How I Would Re-Write the Manhunt

Yesterday, as the massive LAPD manhunt scoured the Southern California region for fired LAPD officer Chris Dorner, I realized this was an amazing story. I mentioned to several people that this would have been a great suspense or thriller novel. A disgruntled and dishonored veteran and ex-police officer releases a manifesto and attempts to clear his name by resorting to the only option left, a vengeful campaign against those that have wronged him. A city is on edge as the manhunt and the attacks escalate. It would have made a great novel.

But today, as the story continues to play out, I realize I would have made some creative detours.

For one, I would want the reader to connect with the bad guy. Running around and killing innocent people doesn’t make him likeable at all. And let’s be honest, here. Despite what I’ve read on social media from people defending his actions, he is attacking innocent people. The ex-captain’s daughter and fiancé that he killed on Sunday had no idea who he was. They had no direct impact on his life. The officers he shot had no personal grudge with him. They had never met him. Yet he made them targets. If he had truly gone after the people who had wronged him, he might get some sympathy or understanding from readers. In reality, he is seen by most as a homicidal mad man.

The ex-officer talks a lot about racism in the police department. This is actually no surprise to most people. But he loses creditability when he says is targeting all officers. Sure there are some officers that are bad, but just as many are good. Just as many knew the LAPD had a bad reputation and joined to try to make a change from the inside out. We shouldn’t judge someone by the color of their skin and we shouldn’t judge someone by the clothes they wear or the profession they choose. Again, his actions would lose most readers.

The mistaken identity situation where three innocent people were shot at by the LAPD is pure gold for suspense writing. It is sad and I am glad to hear no one was seriously injured. I’m sure the LAPD (and the tax payers) will have to pay dearly for the mistake. In a novel, the incident would be important to show the tenseness in the force as well as indicate the possibility that the ex-officer could be right about his corruption claims. Unfortunately, in real life, it just shows how worried the officers are for their own safety and how easily one mistake can further ruin the reputation of the department.

The search moving from coastal San Diego to the mountains of Big Bear are also a plus in a fiction novel. The disabled boat and the burned out truck could be great plotlines if these connected to his character in some way. If these events could be used to show his planning and cunningness, the reader might root for him. Unfortunately, it looks like the San Diego spotting was a failed attempt to flee the country. Still no word on the reason for torching his vehicle. If he ends up still in Big Bear, it was probably another mistake that only caused the police to move in faster.

Although this story is still unfolding, it probably won’t end well for the fired officer. Sources say much of what he claims in his manifesto isn’t accurate. We’ll have to wait for the media to dig in for the truth. And don’t fear. They will, because there is a very interesting story here.

 As for the ending I’d write?  I’d probably have him find the only cop willing to listen to him. After a week-long manhunt and trust growing between the ex-officer and the cop, he’d turn himself in as the cop agrees to look into the corruption, and with the media behind him bring down any guilty parties.

Again, the important part is that this would end with no loss of innocent lives.


*Remember: This is not fact or fiction. These are just my musings.


Born in La Mirada, California, Melissa M. Garcia has lived most of her life in the sometimes gritty, but always entertaining landscape that is Southern California. She graduated from California State University in Long Beach with a degree in English/Literature. Garcia is the author of the Luc Actar crime series (including Falling Angels and Chasing Demons) and the Death Valley Mystery series (Stranger: A Death Valley Mystery). She has also published an e-book collection, Faith Departed: Short Stories of Mystery, Crime, and Despair.

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