The pursuit of Christopher Dorner, 33, a former LAPD officer who was the focus of a manhunt after a series of shootings in Southern California, came to a dramatic end on Tuesday. After a shoot-out caught on camera by CBS, the cabin in Big Bear Lake, California, where Dorner was holed up, began to burn. It’s believed that the body found inside is Dorner’s.
Social media played a strange and prominent role in the Dorner case. The San Bernadino District Attorney sent out an imploring tweet mid-siege asking reporters to stop tweeting about the cabin raid — perhaps because at least one journalist was listening to the police scanner and reporting on officers’ plans — and police also asked traditional media not to fly overhead with helicopters or to run their cameras, allegedly because of safety concerns. (Media reports that a drone was being used to track Dorner’s movements appear to be false, though that might have been safer for those involved. One officer was killed and another injured during the shoot-out.) Neither the district attorney nor the sheriff’s office responded to an inquiry about how tweeting about the Dorner case was endangering officers, and the DA later deleted that tweet.
Before that, Dorner turned to social media as an outlet to air the reasons why he planned to go on a shooting rampage. He posted an 11,000-word manifesto to Facebook explaining that the deaths were “a necessary evil that I do not enjoy but must partake and complete for substantial change to occur within the LAPD and reclaim my name.” The rambling manifesto names members of the LAPD that he planned to target, thanks mentors, and contains a multitude of pop-culture references, including an appreciation of Michele Obama’s new bangs, regret over missing out on seeing the Hangover III, and shout-outs to Charlie Sheen — who is “effin awesome” — and Anonymous — who is unfairly “hated [and] vilified.” The latter reciprocated the sentiment with their own call to “raise arms against the LAPD, for justice and for the lulz.”
Rap Genius — a site that interprets and decodes rap songs, often with the Wikipedia-style crowd-sourced help of its users, that has attracted $15 million in funding from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz — decided that Dorner’s manifesto deserved its attention. Houston Barnett-Gearhart, 21, a University of Arizona drop-out who Rap Genius brought on to expand its…