RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A Riverside police officer nearly killed in an ambush by rogue ex-cop Christopher Dorner made his first public appearance since the shooting, at an emotional dinner where he was greeted warmly by friends and admirers and shared a table with the wife of his late training officer.
Officer Andrew Tachias was sitting in his patrol car with Officer Michael Crain on Feb. 7 when Dorner pulled alongside them at a stoplight and opened fire.
Crain was killed. Tachias, who is still recovering, was shot eight times.
"I think he's like all of us. It's ups and downs," Crain's widow, Regina, said of Tachias. "One minute you're fine, and the next you are in a hole."
She added the dinner was the first time she and Tachias, 27, had met.
The officer, whose wounded hands were encased in protective coverings, has said he wants to return to work.
"I'm absolutely speechless for him to be back in this environment," said Officer Scott Levesque, who was among those at the event at Riverside's Original Roadhouse Grill.
The dinner capped a daylong fundraiser for the families of Tachias and Crain. It drew so many people that at one point, the restaurant ran out of silverware, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported (http://bit.ly/X4bhPe).
Tachias, dressed in a gray and black striped hoodie and sporting a beard, was greeted with hugs when he arrived at about 8 p.m. and took a table with Crain's widow.
"To be close to the person who was with him last is comforting to me," Regina Crain said.
Crain's father also attended the event, along with Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz and Lt. Larry Gonzalez, the watch commander on duty when Crain and Tachias were attacked.
Dorner went on a rampage after he was fired by the Los Angeles Police Department for filing a false report.
He killed four people and wounded Tachias before committing suicide Feb. 12 after he was cornered in a mountain cabin near Big Bear Lake.
Authorities surrounded the cabin after a wild chase that began when Dorner tied up a couple and stole their car, crashed it and carjacked another vehicle at gunpoint, then crashed that one and fled to the cabin.