LOS ANGELES -- The Cal State-Fullerton Titans return to the basketball court today for the first time since the murder of assistant women’s basketball coach Monica Quan a week ago in a case that has led to the largest manhunt in Los Angeles Police Department history.
The bodies of the 28-year-old coach and her 27-year-old fiancé, Keith Lawrence, a public safety officer at USC, were discovered Sunday, slumped in the driver’s and passenger’s seats of Lawrence’s car in the garage of their Irvine, Calif., condominium, and riddled with gunshot wounds.
The allegations are that the pair were the first victims of Christopher Jordan Dorner, who, according to various documents, launched a campaign of retribution against those he deems responsible for his firing from his job as an LAPD officer. Dorner is also accused of killing one Riverside police officer and wounding another; of the attempted murder of two LAPD officers; and of the attempted robbery of a boat from a San Diego marina, where he left the 81-year-old occupant of the boat tied up but otherwise unharmed.
Dorner, who is also a naval reserve officer, was fired by the LAPD as the result of an incident in 2007, when he accused his field training officer, Sgt. Teresa Evans, of using excessive force in kicking a suspect who suffered from schizophrenia and dementia in the course of arresting him. Though the alleged victim and his father corroborated Dorner’s charges, three independent witnesses came forward in support of Evans’ innocence and Dorner was ultimately fired for lodging a false complaint against a fellow officer. Dorner sued the department for wrongful termination, but his suit was dismissed and Dorner lost his appeal in October 2011.
In the wake of his termination by the LAPD, Dorner, by his own account, lost his military security clearances, his command of a Navy security forces reserve unit, and is due to be discharged from the military this month, which is believed to have served as the trigger for this week’s shooting rampage.
Dorner posted a long and angry “manifesto” on his Facebook wall, which though since taken down, has been republished by multiple news agencies, accusing the department of racism and lying and threatening several current and former police officers and their families. In his manifesto, Dorner, while stopping short of admitting his guilt of the Quan, Lawrence and Riverside police murders, took credit for having committed “horrendous murders” and “drastic and shocking actions” in an effort to clear his name.
“I will bring unconventional and asymmetrical warfare to those in LAPD uniform whether on or off duty,” Dorner warned. “Your lack of ethics and conspiring to wrong a just individual are over. Suppressing the truth will leave (sic) to deadly consequences for you and your family. There will be an element of surprise where you work, live, eat and sleep,” he wrote. “I never had the opportunity to have a family of my own. I’m terminating yours.”
On Wednesday, after discovering and analyzing the online manifesto, the LAPD announced Dorner as the principal suspect in the Quan and Lawrence murders. Quan, who was in her second season as an assistant coach of the Titans, is believed to have been targeted because her father, Randal Quan, an attorney and former LAPD captain, unsuccessfully represented Dorner during the police disciplinary board proceedings surrounding Dorner’s firing. Dorner’s manifesto accuses Quan of disloyalty, stating:
“Never allow a LAPPL union attorney to be a retired LAPD Captain …. He doesn’t work for you, your interest, or your name. He works for the department, period. His job is to protect the department from civil lawsuits being filed and their best interest which is the almighty dollar. His loyalty is to the department, not his client.”
After discovering Dormer’s manifesto, dozens of LAPD officers and their families named or referred to in the document as potential targets were placed under police protection, a skirmish line was established outside LAPD headquarters, and motorcycle officers were ordered to patrol in police cruisers in teams of two or more. But even those measures proved inadequate when on Thursday, two LAPD officers in Corona, Calif., checking on the welfare of one of the individuals mentioned in Dorner’s manifesto were fired on by a gunman, allegedly Dorner, armed with a rifle, when they started to follow a truck matching the description of Dorner’s pickup. One officers was grazed in the head, but is expected to be okay; the second was not wounded.
Later that day, Dorner allegedly ambushed two Riverside police officers as they sat in their cruiser at a traffic light on routine patrol. One officer was killed, while the other was wounded and is reported to be in stable condition following surgery. A third Riverside police officer was wounded in a separate incident, initially believed to have been related to Dorner but now described by police as under “unknown circumstances.”
Meanwhile, a truck believed to be Dorner’s was found in flames in the Big Bear ski area outside Los Angeles, leading to a house-to-house search of some 400 homes, and the search for Dorner, who continues to elude capture, has spread throughout Southern California and into surrounding states in a dragnet that has brought in FBI SWAT teams and is described as the biggest manhunt in LAPD history.
Monica Quan, known for her three-point sharpshooting, was a basketball standout at Walnut High School in Southern California, where she has been inducted into the school’s hall of fame after setting records for three-pointers in a season (59) and a game (seven). She earned All-California Interscholastic Federation, All-Baseline League, and all-region honors, while averaging 15 points, six assists, three, steals and two rebounds per game as a senior in 2002.
Quan went on to play at Cal State-Long Beach (now known as Long Beach State) for two seasons before transferring to Concordia University in Irvine for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons, finding an immediate spot in the starting rotation and establishing herself as a key facilitator, leading the team in assists (94) as a junior and ranking second on the team in assists (77) in her final season. She graduated from Concordia in 2007 with a degree in exercise and sport science, completing her master’s in 2009.
|Quan in her playing days at Concordia University of Irvine. (Photo courtesy Concordia University Athletics Media Relations)|
Quan began her coaching career as an assistant at Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, Calif., where she helped lead the Division III program to a 33-18 record in her two seasons with the team, including a 19-7 record and a third-place Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference finish in 2009-10 – the best record for the program in nearly five years. She joined the Titans’ coaching staff in 2011, and though Fullerton continues to struggle, their 11-19 record last season represented a two-game improvement over the previous year.
All four schools mourned Quan’s loss this week, with Concordia suffering a double loss in the death of Lawrence, who played for the Eagles from 2006-08. "Our campus community is shocked and saddened by this tragic news," said Kurt Kreager, Concordia president. "Our prayers go out to the families and friends of Moncia and Keith and know that we mourn along with them."
"Watching Keith and Monica on the court was something to see," said Gary R. McDaniel, executive vice president at Concordia. "They were some of Concordia's finest.”
Players and coaches at Long Beach State, Fullerton’s Big West Conference rival, wore orange ribbons (orange is Fullerton's school color) in Quan’s honor when they took their home floor against Hawaii on Thursday after the relationship between her murder and Dormer’s revenge killing spree was made public. The team also held a moment of silence in the arena in Quan’s honor prior to the game, and head coach Jody Wynn stated, “We are deeply saddened and terribly shocked by the loss of Monica Quan. She was a wonderful young woman and coach with a tremendous heart and great passion for the game of basketball. Monica was loved by all who knew her, and our Beach family, her former teammates and coaches carry heavy hearts. She was a bright young coach with a big smile and a joy to be around. Our thoughts and prayers are with Monica’s family and the Cal State Fullerton women’s basketball program.”
“We have lost a member of our 49er family far too soon and our thoughts and prayers are with her family at this difficult time,” added senior women’s athletics administrator Cindy Masner. “Monica was a young, talented, hardworking and courageous woman who made a difference in so many lives she touched.”
Today's 3 p.m. PST game against Cal State Riverside will be the first day back in action for Fullerton since the murder, and the Titans have announced they will dedicate the game to the memory of their fallen assistant coach.
“We just shared a moment of incredible joy with Monica after her recent engagement, “ said Fullerton head coach Marcia Foster at a press conference Monday before the full circumstances of Quan’s murder were known. “Here’s what I want to tell you: I want to tell you that a really bright light was put out way too soon. Somebody whose passion was impacting young women through the game of basketball has been taken away from us in a very unfortunate situation.
“As a second-year assistant for me, she was someone I counted on to tell me the truth,” Foster continued. “I loved that about her. I loved her work ethic and her passion for life. We are going to have some work to do because too many young women have been affected by this [loss].”
Funeral arrangements are pending.