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Charred body, believed to be gunman, found in cabin

By Gillian Flaccus and Tami Abdollah

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 07:26 p.m. HST, Feb 12, 2013


BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif. » The manhunt for the former Los Angeles police officer suspected of going on a killing spree converged today on a mountain cabin where authorities believe he barricaded himself inside, engaged in a shootout that killed a deputy and then never emerged as the home went up in flames.

A single gunshot was heard from within.

If the body of Christopher Dorner is found inside, as authorities suspect, the search for the most wanted man in America over the last week would have ended the way he had expected — death, with the police pursuing him.

Thousands of officers had been on the hunt for the former Navy reservist since police said he launched a campaign to exact revenge against the Los Angeles Police Department for his firing. They say he threatened to bring "warfare" to officers and their families, spreading fear and setting off a search for him across the Southwest and Mexico.

"Enough is enough. It's time for you to turn yourself in. It's time to stop the bloodshed," LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said at a news conference held outside police headquarters in Los Angeles, a starkly different atmosphere than last week when Dorner was on the loose and officials briefed the news media under heavy security in an underground hallway.

A short time after Smith spoke, smoke began to rise from the cabin in the snow-covered woods near Big Bear Lake, a resort town about 80 miles east of Los Angeles. Flames then engulfed the building — images that were broadcast on live television around the world. TV helicopters showed the fire burning freely with no apparent effort to extinguish it.

"We have reason to believe that it is him," said San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Cynthia Bachman, adding that she didn't know how the fire started. She noted there was gunfire between the person in the cabin and officers around the home before the blaze began.

Until today, authorities didn't know whether Dorner was still near Big Bear Lake, where they found his burned-out pickup last week.

Around 12:20 p.m. toay, deputies got a report of a stolen pickup truck, authorities said. The location was directly across the street from where law enforcement set up their command post on Thursday and not far from where Dorner's pickup was abandoned. The owner of the vehicle taken today described the suspect as looking similar to Dorner.

A warden for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife traveling down Highway 38 recognized a man who fit Dorner's description traveling in the opposite direction. The officer pursued the vehicle and there was a shooting at 12:42 p.m. in which the wildlife vehicle was hit numerous times and the suspect escaped on foot after crashing his truck.

After holing up in the cabin, there was a second gunbattle with San Bernardino County deputies, two of whom were shot. One died and the other was expected to live after undergoing surgery.

"We're heartbroken," Big Bear Lake Mayor Jay Obernolte said of the deputy's death and the wounding of his colleague. "Words can't express how grateful we are for the sacrifice those men have made in defense of the community and our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families."

The man believed to be Dorner never came out of the cabin, and a single shot was heard inside before the cabin was engulfed in flames, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press.

The official later told the AP that a charred body was found in the burned cabin and reiterated that even after Los Angeles and San Bernardino authorities disputed it in news conferences. The official requested anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

Earlier, a SWAT team surrounded the cabin and used an armored vehicle to break out the cabin windows, the official said. The officers then pumped a gas into the cabin and blasted a message over a loudspeaker: "Surrender or come out."

The armored vehicle then tore down each of the cabin's four walls, like peeling back the layers of an onion, the official said.

Police say Dorner began his run on Feb. 6 after they connected the slayings of a former police captain's daughter and her fiance with an angry Facebook rant they said he posted. Threats against the LAPD led officials to assign officers to protect officers and their families.

Within hours of the release of photos of the 6-foot, 270-pounder described as armed and "extremely dangerous," police say, Dorner unsuccessfully tried to steal a boat in San Diego to flee to Mexico and opened fire on two patrol cars in Riverside County, shooting three officers and killing one.

Jumpy officers guarding one of the targets named in the rant shot and injured two women delivering newspapers Thursday in Torrance because they mistook their pickup truck for Dorner's.

Police found weapons and camping gear inside the charred truck in Big Bear. Helicopters using heat-seeking technology searched the forest from above while scores of officers, some using bloodhounds, scoured the ground and checked hundreds of vacation cabins — many vacant this time of year — in the area.

A snowstorm hindered the search and may have helped cover his tracks, though authorities were hopeful he would leave fresh footprints if hiding in the wilderness.

Dorner's anger with the department dated back at least five years, when he was fired for filing a false report accusing his training officer of kicking a mentally ill suspect. Dorner, who is black, claimed in the rant that he was the subject of racism by the department and fired for doing the right thing.

He said he would get even with those who wronged him as part of his plan to reclaim his good name.

"You're going to see what a whistleblower can do when you take everything from him especially his NAME!!!" the rant said. "You have awoken a sleeping giant."

Chief Charlie Beck, who initially dismissed the allegations in the rant, said reopened the investigation into his firing — not to appease the ex-officer, but to restore confidence in the black community, which long had a fractured relationship with police that has improved in recent years.

One of the targets listed in the manifesto was former LAPD Capt. Randal Quan, who represented Dorner before the disciplinary board. Dorner claimed he put the interests of the department above his.

The first victims were Quan's daughter, Monica Quan, 28, a college basketball coach, and her fiance, Keith Lawrence, 27. They were shot multiple times in their car in a parking garage near their Orange County condo.

Dorner served in the Navy, earning a rifle marksman ribbon and pistol expert medal. He was assigned to a naval undersea warfare unit and various aviation training units, according to military records. He took leave from the LAPD for a six-month deployment to Bahrain in 2006 and 2007.

He left the service on Feb. 1.

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Skyler wrote:
How about that, eh? He lives to die another day. Even if he's caught 'alive' it won't be for long. He'll try to 'escape' and be shot in the process. Deserves every bullet he gets, too.
on February 12,2013 | 11:08AM
frontman wrote:
The end is near and the people in control can paint the picture the way they want it to be. That doesn't mean it will be the truth.
on February 12,2013 | 01:34PM
frontman wrote:
Does this rag make up what it prints??? As of 6:40 HST no body has been found in the house. They haven't entered the house. What a joke of a newspaper.
on February 12,2013 | 05:39PM
Dawg wrote:
HANG HIM REAL HIGH! Where is Dirty Harry when we need him!
on February 12,2013 | 11:28AM
loquaciousone wrote:
At Pebble beach talking to an empty chair.
on February 12,2013 | 11:33AM
pakeheat wrote:
Hmmmmmmm that brings back memories, LOL.
on February 12,2013 | 01:56PM
KARLO wrote:
He's done and unfortunately he's not leaving alive.
on February 12,2013 | 11:53AM
aomohoa wrote:
And why is that unfortunate?
on February 12,2013 | 01:15PM
likewise wrote:
I watched a little bit of the live coverage on tv at lunch. All his old friends from the police department have him cornered. There will be nothing left of him except a gooey, red stain by the time they get done with him. He knows that. He might take himself out first to deny them the pleasure. Either way. Done deal.
on February 12,2013 | 11:53AM
pgkemp wrote:
please kill youself or be killed, spare the taxpayers...........
on February 12,2013 | 12:07PM
Bdpapa wrote:
He's gonna come out shooting after setting the cabin on fire.
on February 12,2013 | 12:35PM
aomohoa wrote:
Wait until the owners come home. What a nasty surprise for them.
on February 12,2013 | 01:16PM
allie wrote:
scary!
on February 12,2013 | 01:09PM
loquaciousone wrote:
Latest report is that another cop died so this lolo is going to get the death penalty.
on February 12,2013 | 01:16PM
ezridah wrote:
"suicide by cop"...if LAPD shoots at truck they think he's in ..imagine what they'll do when they find him.....
on February 12,2013 | 01:18PM
ezridah wrote:
sounds like Waco and the Branch Davidians outcome
on February 12,2013 | 02:10PM
stingray65 wrote:
This guy does want to be in jail or death penalty. He knows that he will die one way or another. That saves lots of money for California tax payers.
on February 12,2013 | 03:07PM
Bumby wrote:
Filing a false report for kicking a mentally ill suspect. Authorities in control report "false" If he falsified the report why would he get this mad?
on February 12,2013 | 03:37PM
lynnh wrote:
I agree, an investigation should be conducted to see if there was a coverup and coruption, which would make his anger justifiable. "BUT", and I stress this, that dose "NOT" give him the right to murder!
on February 12,2013 | 05:41PM
MolokaiChuck wrote:
Stick a fork in him ....he's done!!!!
on February 12,2013 | 03:57PM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
Burn baby burn!
on February 12,2013 | 04:05PM
Mythman wrote:
A marksman medal is not the highest one......expert is the highest.....perfect example of the need for screening for NPD
on February 12,2013 | 04:21PM
residenttaxpayer wrote:
Hope this is the end of this tragic episode...enough lives have been lost due to this maniac. Blaming others for his failures in life. Hopefully this is the last we will see and hear of him.
on February 12,2013 | 04:25PM
Synikal1 wrote:
I would wait till autopsy reports confirm that it is him before celebrating. you never know. he could have kidnap some guy earlier, tied him up, shot him once, untied him and left his body in a positon to look like a suicide before setting the cabin on fire and escaping between all that smoke!
on February 12,2013 | 05:02PM
64hoo wrote:
the killer took the easy way out if its him by shooting himself after setting the cabin on fire. burn in hell and don't rest in peace killer.
on February 12,2013 | 05:04PM
frontman wrote:
Does this rag make up what it prints??? As of 6:40 HST no body has been found in the house. They haven't entered the house. What a joke of a newspaper.
on February 12,2013 | 05:38PM
64hoo wrote:
as of 7;35 p.m. cnn reported that the roadblocks are gone and most of the police have left so its probably his body in the cabin.
on February 12,2013 | 06:47PM
lynnh wrote:
It was MSNBC that falsely reported that a body was found. No police official said anything other than they have not search the house as it was still too hot. Now you know where SA gets their stories and how reliable they are!
on February 12,2013 | 05:51PM
lynnh wrote:
Funny! I post a comment criticizing SA for reporting false information and it gets removed. Hows that for censorship and freedom of speech!
on February 12,2013 | 05:53PM
64hoo wrote:
at 7;35 the cnn reported that the roadblocks have been removed that most of the police are gone and people can drive near the area to get to there cabins. so there is a body in there, it must be him if they removed the roadblocks and are allowing people to travel through there. if he was still alive they would not have removed the roadblock.
on February 12,2013 | 06:42PM
808comp wrote:
Don't think they even know if this is the guy,as you hear all kinds of stories.
on February 12,2013 | 07:13PM
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