Three members of a jazz band were shot by Los Angeles police Monday afternoon in relation to a massive hunt for an avenging ex-cop, police and witnesses said.
Police were reportedly acting on a tip in their search for Christopher Jordan Dorner when they stopped a van at an Arco station on La Cienega Boulevard near Interstate 405.The van was carrying three members of a Dave Brubeck tribute band and their manager.
Police then allegedly started shooting at the blue 1989 Ford Aerostar, hitting three men and riddling the van with bullet holes.
The three men, later identified as members of The Brubeck Ambassadors Jazz Band, were treated at the scene for gunshot wounds before being taken to an area hospital in stable condition, police said. The band’s manager was unharmed.
The shooting occurred as local, state and federal police are conducting a massive search for Dorner, 33, an ex-LAPD officer who is suspected of fatally shooting an Orange County couple and three Riverside police officers, one of whom died.
Dorner reportedly declared in an online manifesto that he is seeking revenge against former LAPD colleagues he blames for ending his career. Authorities are offering $1 million for information leading to Dorner’s arrest. Dorner's truck was found in Big Bear, Calif., last week.
All three of Monday's shooting victims are white. Dorner is described as African-American, 6 feet tall and 270 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.
At a hastily-called news conference, LAPD Lt. Joseph Fryday said officers were following up on a tip that “a suspicious van was driving around Los Angeles, with Dave Brubeck music blasting from it at a high volume.”
Fryday said Dorner admitted to being a fan of Brubeck, “which created the suspicion that Dorner might be in the van.”
“Whenever you drive around Los Angeles, it’s typically hip-hop and pop music blaring at an increased volume from people’s cars,” Fryday said. “It’s rare to hear jazz music blaring from a vehicle at a high volume, so the officers decided to follow up on the call.”
Brubeck, who died last year at age 91, is highly regarded among jazz fans as a brilliant pianist and composer.
Dorner identified Brubeck’s 1959 “Take Five” hit jazz song as “the greatest piece of music ever, period” in a lengthy manifesto he posted on his Facebook page, in which he also identified and praised his favorite entertainers.
Fryday dismissed claims that the latest shooting is a sign of amplified fear among the police and of their inability to capture Dorner, who has been missing since last week.
“If anything, this latest shooting demonstrates just how dedicated police across the state are to bringing Christopher Dorner to justice for the crimes he has committed,” Fryday said.
“The public should be assured that we are doing everything we can to capture Christopher Dorner, even if it means shooting at every car and every person in California.”
The Monday shooting follows several embarrassing incidents for police in their search for Dorner, who remains at large.
In one incident, police in Torrance shot a mother and daughter who were delivering newspapers. In another case of mistaken identity, police rammed an innocent motorist off the road because his pickup matched the description of Dorner’s truck.
San Diego police also cornered an innocent man while acting on a lead that Dorner was hiding out in a motel.
Band manager recalls incident
The Brubeck Ambassadors' manager Reuben Kincaid, 67, who was in the van and was unharmed, told reporters on Tuesday that he and three band members was driving home from a concert at a VFW Hall in Long Beach when they decided to stop for gasoline. He said they were leaving the Arco gasoline station when they “were surrounded by cop cars out of nowhere” and told to stop.
“We stopped and the cops just started shooting at us,” Kincaid said. “I was in the back, and I held up a trombone case for protection and prayed for dear life.”
After the shooting ended, Kincaid said police surrounded the van. He said he heard an officer yell, "Damn it! Not again!"
Kincaid said the Bakersfield, Calif.-based quintet formed in 1995 and performs Brubeck’s music throughout California and at various jazz festivals. He said the band’s name comes from “The Real Ambassadors,” a jazz musical Brubeck created in collaboration with musician Louis Armstrong.
The two other members of the band “wisely took separate cars,” Kincaid said.
Kincaid said he and the band members in the van had been listening to selections from its latest CD, which includes a cover of “Take Five.” That may have led to the police tip, he said.
“Two of us are a bit hard of hearing after decades of playing music,” Kincaid said, “so we probably play our CDs a bit louder than normal.”
However, Kincaid questioned how police could still open fire on the van without warning, especially when all the members of the band are white and do not match Dorner’s physical appearance.
“The youngest member is 52 and the oldest member is 73,” Kincaid said. “And we're white. How the heck do you mistake any of us for a large black guy?”
Kincaid declined to say if he was considering legal action against the police.
“I have a feeling the LAPD will not come out of this looking good,” he said.
Other celebrities, rapper placed on alert
In his lengthy Facebook manifesto, Dorner offered praise and critiques to various actors, musicians, politicians, radio hosts and journalists whom he admired, including Brubeck.
Fryday told reporters that all of the celebrities named in Dorner’s manifesto – who include director Todd Phillips, actors Charlie Sheen and Christoph Waltz, musician Norah Jones and comedians Louis CK, Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld and Dennis Miller – have all been told to “remain home and do not leave without informing us where you’re going.”
Police also confirmed reports that they have placed hip-hop star and actor LL Cool J, who physically resembles Dorner, on high alert.