(CBS) - On Feb. 7, the day Christopher Dorner allegedly shot a police officer in Southern California, a business student in Lake City, Fla., went online and created a Facebook page supporting the fugitive ex-cop.
Less than a week later, more than 14,000 people have "liked" the page on Facebook, and, according to its creator, the accompanying website is getting nearly 20,000 unique visitors each day.
"I read his manifesto and it seemed to me like he was a good guy forced into a bad situation," says Edward Drotzer, 25. "I never expected the site would get the amount of support it did."
Anyone who remembers the cheering freeway throngs for O.J. Simpson before he was arrested for murdering his wife and her friend knows that public declarations of support for criminals - especially those who attempt to run from police - are not uncommon. You can still go online and buy t-shirts supporting Colton Harris-Brown, aka the "Barefoot Bandit," the Washington teenager who stole an airplane as part of his attempt to evade capture in the summer of 2010.
Drotzer, who is a student at Florida Gateway College, told Crimesider that he created the website and Facebook page because the depiction he was seeing of Dorner in the media - that of a crazed killer - didn't jive with what he read in Dorner's so-called manifesto.
"He didn't seem like a PTSD guy going on a crazy rampage," says Drotzer. "A lot of people hear 'cop killer' and assume he's nuts, but I understand that he was kind of backed into it."
Dorner, 33, was fired from his job as an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department in early 2009. According to the Los Angeles Times, his termination traced back to a complaint he made against a fellow officer in July 2007, alleging she had kicked a mentally ill suspect in the face. The LAPD found that complaint to be false - even though the man's father testified his son had told him he'd been kicked in the face by an officer - and the Times reports that police disciplinary records about the incident contended that it "irreparably" destroyed Dorner's credibility.
On Feb. 9, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck
Drotzer says that since creating the web pages he's gotten messages from lots of people telling them about incidents they've had with police brutality involving the LAPD. Many of the comments on the Facebook page are virulently anti-police, but the back and forth is definitely not all pro-Dorner. There is name-calling, but also reasoned debate.
One woman posted: "Clearly the worst mistake the LAPD made was HIRING this man in the first place! God bless ALL of his innocent victims..." By contrast, another posted a quote from John F. Kennedy: "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
Drotzer says his family supports his work on the site and he has a couple of friends helping him keep it updated. With most signs pointing to Dorner having died last night in a flaming cabin, Drotzer hopes the website - and particularly the discussion it has sparked - will live on.
Just before noon on Feb. 13, a site administrator posted this note: "The question remains, Will we let it end here? Or will we take to the streets, peacefully?"Complete coverage of Christopher Dorner on Crimesider