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Authorities said officers looked for signs that someone had forcibly entered the buildings, or that heat was on inside in a cabin that otherwise looked uninhabited.
Helicopters had landed SWAT officers in a lot near the Reynolds’ condo, and through the weekend they stood in plain view from the cabin, gearing up in helmets, bulletproof vests, with assault weapons at the ready.
According to the Reynolds, the cabin had cable TV, and a second-story view that would have allowed him to see choppers flying in and out.
Timothy Clemente, a retired FBI SWAT team leader who was part of the search for Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph, said searchers had to work methodically. When there’s a hot pursuit, they can run after a suspect into a building. But in a manhunt, the search has to slow down. "You can’t just kick in every door," he said. Police have to have a reason to enter a building.
Officers would have been approaching each cabin, rock and tree with the prospect that Dorner was behind and waiting with a weapon that could penetrate bulletproof vests. In his manifesto posted online, Dorner, a former Navy reservist, said he had no fear of losing his life and would wage "unconventional and asymmetrical warfare" and warned officers "you will now live the life of the prey."
Even peering through windows can be difficult because officers have to remove a hand from their weapons to shade their eyes. Experts said it is likely officers may have used binoculars to help examine homes from a distance, especially when dealing with a man who had already killed three people, including a police officer.
In many cases, officers didn’t even knock on the doors, according to searchers and residents.
"If Chris Dorner’s on the other side of the door, what would the response be?" Clemente said. "A .50 caliber round or .223 round straight through that door."
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