RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com) — When tragedy fades from headlines the public moves on to the next story, perhaps forgetting the people touched by the incident, the ones whose lives will never be the same.
For one Riverside widow, the pain never goes away. Regina Crain’s husband, Michael, was shot in cold blood by Christopher Dorner while he was on the run last February.
“It bothers me a little that people are starting to forget Mike’s name,” Crain said to CBS2’s Pat Harvey. “They don’t know who I’m talking about until I say Dorner.”
Dorner’s rampage began with the brutal murders of a young couple in Irvine. It set off a nine-day manhunt that ended in a hail of gunfire on a Big Bear cabin.
It was right in the middle of this wave of terror, before dawn on Feb. 7, when Riverside police Officer Michael Crain came face to face with Dorner at the intersection of Arlington and Magnolia avenues.
The officer was sitting in a marked patrol car at a traffic stop when, seemingly and out of nowhere, Dorner opened fire on Officer Crain, killing him and wounding his fellow officer.
“I can’t go through the intersection. I can’t sleep in my room,” Regina Crain said.
She has trouble moving things her husband left behind the day he died.
“Certain things I have that I will not move, like his eye mask on the nightstand. That’s sitting there. And a glass of water he never finished – it’s dry now,” the widow said.
“What about the gravesite? Have you visited the gravesite?” Harvey asked her.
“Maybe, someday, I will go to his grave, but right now, no,” Crain said.
Michael Crain was an 11-year veteran officer with the Riverside Police Department and he had served two tours with the Marines in Kuwait.
But his wife Regina will always remember him as the doting father of his two children, Ian and Kaitlyn.
“How’s Kaitlyn doing?” Harvey said.
“Luckily, because she is so imaginative and young enough, she thinks her daddy is in another place and that’s ok, ‘He can watch me from where he is at,’” Crain said.
“You know, it almost sounds like Kaitlyn has been taking care of you,” Harvey said.
“She does. If I’m having a bad day I’m honest with her, I’ll tell her…There’s been quite a few times I’ve just lost it and she knows. She doesn’t try to say much or ask me why. She knows there are many things that trigger me crying. She pats me and tells me, ‘Everything will be alright,’” the mother said.
Crain says the outpouring of community support helped her through that first month after her husband’s death.
“This one is from a woman whose father was a private detective. It says, ‘Dear Regina, we are family now.’ I put it away and I thought maybe I should have the kids meet up with her,” Crain said. “She said that, ‘When we got the horrible news about Mike we cried for Ian and Katilyn because we know the awful, awful pain in their little hearts and the future they will face without their daddy, and they were five, eight and 11 when he passed.’”
Crain is learning to live with the pain as she tries to return to having a normal life.
“A lot of times I will dream he is still here, and then it hurts when I wake up,” Crain said. “And then I am in tears when I wake up. One of them was so real.”
“I just want everyone to know it’s nobody’s fault except for the person who killed my husband, and he’s gone,” she said.
This young mother says she’s working on becoming a teacher and hopes to go back to school in the fall.
“Just taking a class in art. I had to take a beginning painting or drawing, so I started drawing and this is the result,” Crain said as she held up a charcoal drawing. “It’s an outlet definitely. One day a week, six hours. You get in there and it’s like no time had passed because drawing had taken it away.”
Crain is preparing herself for memorials this year honoring those killed in the line of duty. This year is the first time her husband will be among those named, along with Deputy Jeremiah Mackay, who was also slain by Dorner. She’s expected to meet the President at the White House in May.
“I was thinking I was better…but now with everything coming up, it’s getting back to not being able to eat again, not being able to sleep again. I’m sure that will all pass as soon as all this stuff passes but it’s kind of déjà vu a little bit,” she said.
Two memorials sit in front of Beaumont’s Civic Center, one honoring deceased veterans and the other commemorating police officers and firefighters who have died in the line of duty. Michael Crain’s name is now engraved on both memorials.
“I’ve learned a lot about grief and the steps, and, you know, you always hear about the steps…You don’t go through one step and then another, so there are days that you kind of jump around,” Crain said. “There are days that I’m really angry. And there are days that I’m driving and I’ll want to call Mike, and then I think oh, that’s right, he’s not there.”