BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif.
As soon as he heard officers were chasing the suspected cop killer in a stolen truck, San Bernardino County Sheriff's Deputy Roger Loftis was certain: His buddy Jeremiah MacKay would be there.
In 15 years with the department, "Jer" had earned about a dozen and a half awards for 10851s -- the California penal code for grand theft auto. Once, while heading to a bar to celebrate another award, MacKay noticed there were no keys in the ignition of the car next to him at a traffic light, and he veered off.
He waltzed into the bar two hours later, a grin stretched across that fair, freckled face, a copy of an auto recovery record in his hand.
Last week, Loftis knew the 35-year-old detective had been working around the clock, scouring the San Bernardino Mountains in the search for former Los Angeles Police Officer Christopher Dorner. When an announcer reported that two deputies had exchanged fire with the suspect, Loftis, 54, got a sick feeling in his stomach. He sent his friend a text.
"I know you're busy," he typed. "But let me know you're OK. ASAP." There was no answer.
About an hour later, a colleague called with the news: MacKay, husband and father of two, was dead. He was one of four people authorities say were killed by Dorner, 33, during his weeklong stint as America's most wanted fugitive. It ended Tuesday in a shootout with police, and what officials said was a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.
Couple were just engaged
Dorner claimed his first victims on Feb. 3.
Monica Quan, 28, was an assistant women's basketball coach at California State University, Fullerton. She was also the daughter of retired LAPD Capt. Randal Quan -- who had represented Dorner in his department disciplinary hearings before he was fired in 2009.
She lived in an Irvine condominium with boyfriend Keith Lawrence, a University of Southern California cop. On Jan. 26, Lawrence, 27, had strewn the apartment floor with rose petals, took a knee and proposed, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Just over a week later, at 9:10 p.m., Quan and Lawrence were found slumped in their car in the parking lot of their condo complex. They were fatally shot.
Around that same time, Dorner posted his 11,000-word manifesto titled "Last Resort" on Facebook.
"This was a necessary evil that had to be executed in order for me to obtain my NAME back," Dorner wrote. "The only thing that changes policy and garners attention is death."
Officers shot at stoplight
On Feb. 7, Dorner struck again.
Around 1:30 a.m. two LAPD officers assigned to protect one of the people named in Dorner's manifesto spotted him in the Riverside County community of Corona. During a shootout, one officer was grazed on the forehead.
A short while later in nearby Riverside, SWAT team Officer Michael Crain and trainee Andrew Tachias were in the middle of a graveyard shift.
Crain, a 34-year-old former Marine, had served two tours of duty in Kuwait before joining the Riverside force in 2001. The two were waiting at a stoplight when someone -- believed to be Dorner -- raced up and opened fire on them. Tachias, 27, was critically wounded; Crain was pronounced dead at a hospital.
MacKay finds killer's tracks
Jeremiah and Lynette MacKay married in late 2011. Lynette had a 7-year-old daughter from a previous relationship; about four months ago, she gave birth to a son.
As a bagpiper for the Inland Empire Emerald Society, MacKay had played at many memorials and funerals for fallen officers. He knew this hunt was perilous, but he knew just as well that Dorner had to be stopped.
And he was determined to be the one who did it.
Hours after he left the house Tuesday morning, MacKay was on the trail.
Not far up a road from where Dorner had stolen a truck, some game wardens spotted the vehicle speeding erratically. Dorner opened the window and fired.
According to sheriff's department officials, MacKay and his partner, Alex Collins, followed where they believed the truck had gone. They were unaware Dorner had crashed it. They saw tracks in the snow leading to a cabin and got out of their cruiser.
They stopped about 30 yards from the cabin to devise a plan when shots were fired. Neither had a chance to return fire. Both were hit multiple times. A doctor told Loftis that MacKay died immediately. Collins survived but has undergone multiple surgeries.
By day's end, Dorner would be dead.
Services for victims
A joint memorial service for Quan and Lawrence is planned for next Sunday at Irvine's Concordia University, where they met.
On Wednesday, Crain was buried with full honors. His 10-year-old son, Ian, joined officers carrying his father's coffin out of the church to the mournful drone of bagpipes.
MacKay's funeral is scheduled Thursday in San Bernardino. The Los Angeles Police Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, with whom he'd often played, will be there to send him off.