- The case involves multiple victims in multiple attacks.
- Dorner was in the Navy and served in the Persian Gulf. Muhammad, who was executed in 2009, was in the Army and also served in the Gulf region, many years before.
- Dorner is a trained marksman as was Muhammad.
- Schools in some areas where California searches are concentrated are closed. In the sniper case, outdoor public events were canceled.
But differences between the two cases are clearer and, in some ways, should set the broader public at ease, say former detectives, law enforcement officials and a forensic psychiatrist familiar with both cases.
"During the D.C. sniper shooting the public had no idea who was doing it. ... The public saw this as random victimization without rhyme or reason," said Park Dietz, a forensic psychiatrist.
Dietz worked on the Washington sniper case as well as the "Unabomber" mail-bomb case.
"In contrast, in the California matter, the public understands his targets are much more focused. They consist of certain named individuals and their families," he said.
Dorner, 33, is wanted in the killing of two people in Irvine, California, on Sunday and in the shooting of three Los Angeles-area police officers on Thursday, which killed one of them. One of the victims in Irvine was the daughter of a retired Los Angeles police officer who Dorner knows, authorities said.
The technical details of the California case may differ, but the level of fear people feel as they listen to accounts of the manhunt for a well trained suspect who authorities say has a vendetta is similarly acute, said Jim Trainum, a former homicide detective with the Washington Metropolitan Police Department who worked on the sniper case.