As the last embers of the inferno that engulfed a cabin held by Christopher Dorner died down on Wednesday, police attention shifted to the cleanup – tying up loose ends of their investigations, making sure the body inside really was that of the fugitive ex-cop, and closing the cases on the killing spree that ended four lives.
But for Southern Californians touched by Dorner’s rampage, the agony of the past week and a half will continue.
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Randal Quan, who worked hard as a police captain and then as a lawyer defending his colleagues when their jobs were in jeopardy, must live without his daughter.
Monica Quan had grown up beautifully, becoming an assistant basketball coach at Cal State Fullerton and becoming engaged to a young man who may have followed her father’s footsteps into a law enforcement career.
The Lawrence family was proud of Keith, Monica’s fiancé, who worked as a safety officer at USC and dreamed of a career among the ranks of those who protect and serve.
Two young children will grow up without their father, Riverside police officer Michael Crain, gunned down by Dorner while sitting in his patrol car at a traffic light. Crain’s partner, whom police have not yet named, was injured, and continues to fight for his life at a local hospital.
Crain’s wife, Regina, will have the company of hundreds of her lost husband’s colleagues at a funeral service planned for Wednesday, but she will still have to face a future without him. The scars left on her children, still unknown, will surely haunt all three of their lives.
The family of a San Bernardino sheriff’s deputy killed during Dorner’s last stand will also experience these ripples of grief. The deputy, who was not identified as of Wednesday morning, died after coming to help two state Fish and Wildlife wardens who had spotted the fugitive on the winding, snowy roads around Big Bear Lake on Tuesday.
Other victims will also require healing: a mother and daughter who may have happened upon Dorner’s hiding spot when they came in to clean it will not soon forget that a killer tied them up and stole their car; a second San Bernardino County deputy still fighting for life at Loma Linda Medical Center.
Rick Heltebrake, who operates a boy scout camp in the mountains, will not soon forget the big man who pointed a gun at him and stole his pickup truck for a last stand.
"Christopher Dorner came out of the trees," Heltebrake said. Seconds later, Heltebrake said, he heard gunfire.
Those who love these survivors will try to help.
But in time the attention will die down, much like the embers from Dorner’s last hellfire on the mountain.
They will be left with their trauma and their grief.