Charred human remains have been found in the
burned cabin where police believe fugitive ex-cop Christopher Dorner was
holed up after trading gunfire with law enforcement, authorities
If the body is identified
to be Dorner’s, the standoff would end a weeklong manhunt for the
officer and Navy Reserve lieutenant who is believed to be responsible
for a string of revenge-fueled shootings following his firing by the Los
Angeles Police Department several
years ago. Four people have died, allegedly at Dorner’s hands.
The latest burst of
gunfire Tuesday came after the suspect, attempting to flee law enforcement
officials, shot to death a San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy and
seriously injured another, officials said. He then barricaded himself in a wooden cabin outside
Big Bear, not far from ski resorts in the snow-capped San Bernardino Mountains
east of Los Angeles, according to police.
Just before 5 p.m., authorities smashed the cabin's windows, pumped in tear
gas and called for the suspect to surrender. They got no response. Then, using
a demolition vehicle, they tore down the cabin's walls one by one. When they
reached the last wall, they heard a gunshot, officials said, and then the cabin burst into flames.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said he would not consider the manhunt
over until a body was identified as Dorner.
"It is a bittersweet night," Beck said as he drove to the hospital
where the injured deputy was located. The deputy is expected to survive,
but it is anticipated that he'll need several surgeries. "This could
much better, it could have ended worse. I feel for the family of the
lost his life."
According to a manifesto that authorities say Dorner posted on Facebook, he felt that the LAPD
unjustly fired him several years ago, after a disciplinary panel determined that he lied
in accusing his training officer of kicking a mentally ill man during an
arrest. Beck has promised to review the case.
The manifesto vowed "unconventional and asymmetrical
warfare" against law enforcement officers and their families. "Self-preservation is no longer important to me. I do not
fear death as I died long ago."
Last week, authorities said they had tracked Dorner, 33, to a wooded
area near Big Bear
Lake. They said they found his torched gray Nissan Titan with several
weapons inside, and that the only trace of the suspect was a short trail
of footprints in newly fallen snow.
On Tuesday morning, two maids entered a cabin in the 1200 block of Club View
Drive and ran into a man who they said resembled the fugitive, a law
enforcement official said. The cabin was not far from where Dorner's singed
truck had been found and where police had been holding news conferences about
The man tied up the maids, and he took off in a purple Nissan parked near
the cabin, the official said.
About 12:20 p.m., one of the maids broke free and called police.
Nearly half an hour later, officers with the California Department of Fish
and Wildlife spotted the stolen vehicle and called for backup, authorities said. The suspect
turned down a side road in an attempt to elude the officers but crashed the
vehicle, police said.
A short time later, authorities said, the suspect carjacked a light-colored
pickup truck. Allan Laframboise said the truck belonged to his friend. Rick
Heltebrake, who works at a nearby Boy Scout camp.
Heltebrake was driving on Glass Road with his Dalmatian, Suni, when a
hulking African American man stepped into the road, Laframboise said.
Heltebrake stopped. The man told him to get out of the truck.
"Can I take my dog?" Heltebrake asked, according to his friend.
"You can leave and you can take your dog," the man reportedly said. He then
sped off in the Dodge extended-cab pickup -- and quickly encountered two
Department of Fish and Wildlife trucks, officials said.
As the suspect zoomed past the officers, he rolled down his window and fired
about 15 to 20 rounds, authorities said. One of the officers jumped out and shot a high-powered
rifle at the fleeing pickup, they said, and the suspect abandoned the vehicle and took off on
Police said he ended up at the Seven Oaks Mountain Cabins, a cluster of
wood-frame buildings about halfway between Big Bear Lake and Yucaipa. The
suspect exchanged gunfire with San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies as he
fled into a cabin that locals described as a single-story, multi-room
The suspect fired from the cabin, striking one deputy, law enforcement
sources said. Then he ducked out the back of the cabin, deployed a smoke bomb
and opened fire again, hitting a second deputy. Neither deputy was identified
by authorities. The suspect retreated back into the cabin.
The gun battle was captured on TV by KCAL-TV Channel 9 reporter Carter Evans, who said
he was about 200 feet from the cabin. As Evans described on air how deputies
were approaching the structure, he was interrupted by 10 seconds of gunfire.
Deputies drew their weapons and sprinted toward Evans. Someone yelled for
him to move -- then about 20 more seconds of shooting erupted.
"Hey! Get … out of here, pal," someone shouted. Evans was
The gunfire gave way to a tense standoff. Mountain residents locked their
doors and hunkered down.
Holly Haas, 52, who lives about a mile from where the shootout unfolded,
said she heard helicopters buzzing on and off until about 3:30 p.m. One dipped so
close to her home, she said, "I could throw a rock and hit it."
Others watched the standoff unfold on television. At her home, Candy
sat down to watch TV when, to her surprise, she spotted her rental cabin
-- where the suspect was believed to be holed up -- on the screen.
She said she contacted police and told them that the furnished, 85-year-old cabin had
no cable, telephone or Internet service. No one had booked it for Monday.
"There should have been nobody," she recalled saying. "Nobody
in any way."
Within hours, authorities moved in on the cabin. The fire broke out, setting
off ammunition that had apparently been inside. On TV, viewers saw only the
orange flames and curls of black smoke.
LAPD Chief Beck said his officers have been providing
around-the-clock protection for more than 50 people thought to be Dorner's
targets since the manifesto was discovered.
Police say Dorner's first victims were the daughter of the retired LAPD
official who represented him at his disciplinary hearing and her fiance. Monica Quan and Keith Lawrence were
found shot to death Feb. 3 in their car in their condo complex's parking structure.
Days later, Dorner allegedly attempted to steal a boat in San Diego in a
failed bid to escape to Mexico.
By Feb. 7, authorities said, he had fled to the
Inland Empire. In Corona, police said, he fired at an LAPD officer searching
for him at a gas station. About half an hour later, he allegedly opened fire on two
Riverside officers, killing Michael Crain, 34, and injuring his partner.
Early on in the manhunt, officers mistakenly fired on three people in the
Torrance area -- two Latina women and a white man -- while searching for Dorner,
who is 6 feet tall and 270 pounds.
After his truck was found in Big Bear, authorities swarmed the area, where
many cabins sit empty during the winter.
At the height of the search, more than 200 officers scoured the mountain,
while others sifted through more than 1,000 tips that poured in after officials
offered a $1-million reward.
Just as some officials began to speculate that the former cop had failed to
survive in the wilderness, Dorner apparently surfaced.