02.13.13

Is Christopher Dorner Dead?

The manhunt for a rogue ex-police officer in Los Angeles came to an apparent end Tuesday after he holed up in a cabin that then went up in flames.

The dramatic last stand of accused cop killer Christopher Jordan Dorner included hostage-taking, a shootout with police, and a fire. The LAPD was rebutting sources late Tuesday night who told local news outlet KTLA and CBS News that Dorner has been found dead in a burned-out cabin, although San Bernardino Sheriff's officials did confirm that charred human remains were found in the cabin.

LAPD Commander Andy Smith told a news conference late Tuesday that no one has been able to enter the cabin because of high heat and that authorities cannot confirm a body is inside. Dorner, a former LAPD officer himself, had been holed up in the cabin near the Big Bear resort area in Southern California.

The San Bernardino Sheriff's Department said late in the night that charred human remains were found amid the debris in the cabin. Identification will be attempted through forensic means, said sheriff's spokeswoman Jodi Miller. Sheriff's officials would not confirm that the remains are those of Dorner, but indications seem to go in that direction. Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said earlier that they believe the remains are of the person “who fled into the forest and barricade himself in the cabin and shot two of our deputy sheriffs and we believe he is still in the cabin. No one has been inside the cabin. It is not safe to go in there.”

The fire broke out in the cabin at 4:15 p.m. as a huge contingent of police and SWAT members surrounded it. Plumes of smoke could be seen for miles as the building burned. According to media reports, a single gunshot was heard from inside the cabin before the fire. The immediate area had been closed to the public.

Dorner is said to have killed at least three people—including a young couple in Irvine and a police officer in Riverside—during a multi-day revenge rampage aimed at his former colleagues.

Tuesday’s showdown, which followed multiple scuffles across the Los Angeles area over the past several days, began when Dorner broke into a cabin near Route 38 a few days ago and tied up two people, reportedly a housekeeper and her daughter. He kept them hostage until Tuesday morning, when he fled the scene in a purple Nissan.

According to the Riverside County sheriff’s department, at 12:22 p.m., deputies responded to the 1200 block of Club View Drive for the reported stolen vehicle. The caller said the suspect, who looked similar to Dorner, had stolen their truck.

Patrick Foy, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game, said his officers were the first to spot Dorner tucked behind two buses on Highway 38 at 12:45 pm. The officers made a U-turn and radioed for assistance. Foy said Dorner quickly realized he had been recognized and turned down a side road. Another group of wardens turned down the same road and saw a white truck driving erratically at a high rate of speed towardthem. “He carjacked the white pickup,” said Foy.

As the truck passed, the driver rolled down the window, pulled out a pistol, and fired at least a dozen shots at the warden in the first vehicle. The warden pulled over and fired his rifle at Dorner as he drove off. “He was so close they recognized his face,” said Foy. “They were sure enough to put out [a bulletin], and ultimately the suspect started shooting at them.”

"The suspect fled into the forest and barricaded himself inside a [second] cabin," said Jodi Miller of the San Bernardino sheriff's department. "A short time later there was an exchange of gunfire between law enforcement and the suspect."

Dorner's rampage started with a 6,000-word manifesto posted on his Facebook page, in which he pledged to wage "asymmetrical warfare" against the county police department over what he deemed an unfair acquittal.

More than 100 law-enforcement officers were involved in a weekend search for Dorner, but the search was scaled down on Monday when the U.S. Marshals Service filed federal papers stating that it believed that the rogue cop may have fled to Mexico.