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Burned remains ID'd as fugitive ex-cop Dorner

By Greg Risling and Tami Abdollah

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 05:38 p.m. HST, Feb 14, 2013


BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif. » Officials say burned remains found in a California mountain cabin have been positively identified as fugitive former police officer Christopher Dorner.

San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Jodi Miller said Thursday that the identification was made through Dorner's dental records.

He styled himself as a Rambo-like guerrilla, someone trained to outwit and outshoot the police at every turn, and while Christopher Dorner left no doubt he could be unforgivingly violent, when it came to keeping ahead of the law during his deadly rampage, he made one mistake after another.

The last one — letting one of two people he tied up get to her cellphone and call police as he made off in their purple car — tipped authorities he was coming.

The angry ex-cop, who authorities say boasted that police agencies had no chance of capturing him except on his terms, appears to have been killed Tuesday in a fierce gun battle after he wrecked two getaway cars and had to make a last stand in a mountain cabin 80 miles east of Los Angeles.

The cabin went up in flames after authorities launched pyrotechnic tear gas canisters into it, and authorities were all but certain the charred body found inside afterward was Dorner's. They are waiting for forensic tests to confirm that, but in the meantime San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said Wednesday that authorities consider the hunt over.

Personal effects, including Dorner's driver's license, were found with the body, an official briefed on the search told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.

Sheriff's deputies were not trying to burn down the cabin with Dorner inside but simply flush him out, McMahon said.

"It was not on purpose," he told reporters Wednesday. "We did not intentionally burn down that cabin to get Mr. Dorner out."

Karen and Jim Reynolds said they came face to face with Dorner around noon on the day of his downfall. The couple said that they found him in their cabin-style condominium just a stone's throw from the sheriff's command post, and believe he had been there since Friday.

The couple said Dorner bound them, put pillow cases over their heads and fled in their purple Nissan. When he did, Karen Reynolds managed to get to her cellphone and call 911. The Reynolds told their story at a news conference Wednesday night, they said, to clear up recent reports that it was two female housekeepers who had found Dorner and been tied up.

Their account could not immediately be confirmed by law enforcement officials, but it matched earlier reports saying it was a married couple, and property records showed them as the owners.

The manhunt, one of the largest in recent memory, began last week after Dorner was linked to the killings of a former Los Angeles police captain's daughter and her fiance.

Soon after the couple was found shot death near their Orange County condo, authorities linked their killings to a long, rambling rant they say Dorner posted on Facebook vowing to get revenge on the Los Angeles police and their families for ruining his reputation by firing him.

Dorner was dismissed for filing a false report wrongly accusing his training officer of kicking a mentally disabled man.

"I will bring unconventional and asymmetrical warfare to those in LAPD uniform whether on or off duty," Dorner had boasted. "You will now live the life of the prey."

As it turned out, none of Dorner's four victims were Los Angeles police officers. The other two were a Riverside officer he ambushed at a traffic light and a San Bernardino sheriff's deputy killed in Tuesday's firefight.

"If you're really trying to kill all those people, if that's really your plan, and you're a great tactician, then you don't tell people," said Jim Clemente, a retired behavioral analyst for the FBI. "You don't tell LAPD in advance so they can put a bunch of bodyguards on people. He went and killed soft targets, innocent citizens who had nothing to do with him at all. He used those to scare people, and he used those sadistically to harm the LAPD officer he wanted to get at."

After the first two killings, Dorner tried to steal a boat in San Diego and flee to Mexico, but the former Navy veteran tangled a rope in the outboard motor and couldn't start it, authorities said. Then he fled to the Big Bear Lake resort area, where his truck axle broke, stranding him on Feb. 7, just ahead of a heavy snowstorm.

He may have caught a break when he found refuge in a vacant vacation cabin just across the street from a command post established for the hundreds of officers frantically searching for him.

Despite a search that involved helicopters and bloodhounds and officers going door-to-door checking hundreds of cabins, Dorner remained out of sight until he was discovered Tuesday at the cabin near the command post.

San Bernardino County Deputy Chief Steve Kovensky said searchers had not seen any forced entry when they checked it, but he could not provide details about exactly when that check was made.

Authorities, for the most part, looked at cabins boarded up for the winter, said Dan Sforza, assistant chief of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and often didn't enter occupied homes where nothing appeared amiss.

As he fled in the Nissan, Dorner managed to elude authorities for a time by pulling behind two school buses and making a quick turn onto a mountain road. But he crashed the car there and had to steal another.

That's when he confronted Rick Heltebrake, a ranger who takes care of a Boy Scout camp nearby, and took his pickup. Heltebrake was checking the perimeter of the camp for anything out of the ordinary when he saw Dorner emerge from behind some trees. He was dressed in military fatigues and holding a semi-automatic-style rifle.

"I don't want to hurt you. Start walking and take your dog," Heltebrake recalled Dorner saying as he pointed the gun at him. He fled with his 3-year-old Dalmatian, Suni, and immediately called police, who quickly found the suspect again.

This time he opened fire as he drove past a car carrying game wardens looking for him. One of them got out of his own vehicle and returned fire from his high-powered, semi-automatic rifle but apparently missed.

Out of options after crashing the pickup, the driver made a break for a cabin and barricaded himself inside, where he made his last stand.

Dorner's mother released a family statement to the FOX affiliate in Los Angeles disavowing her son's actions in his final weeks.

"It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we express our deepest sympathies and condolences to anyone that suffered losses or injuries resulting from Christopher's actions. We do not condone Christopher's actions," said the statement Nancy Dorner gave to KTTV-TV. "The family has no further comments and ask that our privacy be respected during this difficult time."

San Bernardino County Sheriff's Deputy Jeremiah MacKay was killed during that final gunfight and another deputy was wounded.

MacKay, a detective who had been with the department 15 years, had a wife, 7-year-old daughter and 4-month-old son, sheriff's officials said. He had spoken to AP just last weekend, saying he hoped Dorner could be taken into custody without any more violence.

"You just never know if the guy's going to pop out or where he's going to pop out," MacKay told an AP reporter. "We're hoping this comes to a close without any more casualties."

Associated Press writers Christopher Weber in San Bernardino and John Rogers in Los Angeles contributed to this story.

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Forever_Grateful wrote:
Interesting that they found his drivers license in his burned out truck with camping gear and more assault rifles in one story iand again next to his body. My heart and prayers go out to those family and friends of the people who lost their lives because of the mentally tortured soul.
on February 14,2013 | 04:29AM
Mythman wrote:
No story ever mentioned if he saw combat, heavy or light, when in the service. Did he? If not, then PTSD is probably not involved. LAPD screening might not have been effective at screening out mental problems due to having a preference for hiring minorities to fill quotas to address criticism about racial bias toward the community?
on February 14,2013 | 04:42AM
stingray65 wrote:
Hey Dude, he was a Navy Reservist..
on February 14,2013 | 03:42PM
loquaciousone wrote:
He made a lot of mistakes but yet he was able to hole up right across the street from the police command center for a week. Welcome to LA.
on February 14,2013 | 05:24AM
Sunny wrote:
Perhaps he deliberately made mistakes knowing this was the end of the line.
on February 14,2013 | 11:37AM
manakuke wrote:
Those tear gas canisters sure get hot!
on February 14,2013 | 05:28AM
ready2go wrote:
Do you believe that this guy is dead? Prove it. He's too cunning to get caught so easily.
on February 14,2013 | 05:49AM
RichardCory wrote:
Too cunning? Sounds like he screwed up multiple times, and his biggest weakness was his fortunately his unwillingness to kill witnesses.
on February 14,2013 | 07:07AM
Usagi336 wrote:
Was thinking that also. But no matter how many times he screwed up, if he had killed the 2 witnesses, the authorities would be searching in Mexico right now.
on February 14,2013 | 08:45AM
mrluke wrote:
Cunning? The guy was a rank amateur with Rambo delusions.
on February 14,2013 | 07:24AM
control wrote:
thats the problem with enormous egos - always thinking they are better, smarter. It also likely contributed to his troubles with LAPD and his dismissal. So is the NRA going to claim this guy was mentally ill which is their current smoke screen?
on February 14,2013 | 09:45AM
goodday wrote:
They make like he was easy to find. He evaded them so easily despite losing his truck. They used helecopters and dogs, these guys are fools to think he was so easy to find. He had good intentions by trying to expose the corruption in the LAPD, too bad he had to kill people to do it...he should have found another way. Once you kill someone you lose all your credibility.
on February 14,2013 | 06:06AM
WizardOfMoa wrote:
goodday, a good and charitable post.
on February 14,2013 | 08:04AM
peanutgallery wrote:
Good riddance to the punk. If they didn't intend to burn the building once they knew he was in it, they should have. End of story. No court. No appeals. No circus.
on February 14,2013 | 06:08AM
Publicbraddah wrote:
Interesting that they found his driver's license next to his burned out body. How does this happen??
on February 14,2013 | 06:11AM
mrluke wrote:
If a driver's license was within a folded wallet, it probably would have survived the heat from the fire. Ask any firefighter how many items are spared frrom burning in a house fire.
on February 14,2013 | 07:27AM
cojef wrote:
Wonder if the re-opening of the Dorner hearings which led to his firing will disclose any efforts by co-workers to "railroad" this ex-police officer. Wise move by LA, Chief Becker for taking this action to placate a sensitive relationship with the black community which is very fagile to put it mildly, since the Rodney King incident which had serious consequence, a riot of great magnitude. Parts of the hearing's info indicate that he had much disagreement with the Department, in that he requested re-training after returning from deployment in Afghanastan as naval reservist, but was denied, and was put on patrol duties with a training officer. He accused the training officer of kicking a mentally hanicapped arrestee twice, once in the head. Whether these are the issue that causedDorner to "crack" remains a mystery.
on February 14,2013 | 07:06AM
kennysmith wrote:
the LAPD do have target on there back for a real long time now. this is just one person is mad at THE LAPD for not careing of hereing the truth.
on February 14,2013 | 07:34AM
silvangold wrote:
Wow.....I'm not too sure (but will be waiting for a "good" news story that he is dead)....about him being that body in the cabin. It just seems to easy....for the good guys I mean. He seemed to 'smart' hiding from the beginning. until the coroner says it's him and he's r e a l l y dead, them guys better not get too comfortable!
on February 14,2013 | 08:06AM
Slow wrote:
This has been a tragic story but unlike the recent shootings in that the alleged shooter is not a raving, eye-rolling nutcase. There may be many in LAPD who are are very nervous about what should be revealed soon.
on February 14,2013 | 08:37AM
Tarakian wrote:
My condolences to the families of the real victims that the angry "victim" man murdered! He did wrong, not responsible for his own actions and blames others. Those leaders that preach this same political line of victim-hood and blame others should feel shame. Lets put the blame on the one doing the killing and stop blaming the white man or anyone else. Come on, we have a black president in office...twice!
on February 14,2013 | 09:49AM
64hoo wrote:
hes not black hes half white so we don't have a black president I go by bloodline not by pigmentation of the skin.
on February 14,2013 | 03:39PM
rayhawaii wrote:
Sounds like a movie, planned torched building, dead body, switched dental records, DNA test guy paid off. Coming soon to a theater near you.
on February 14,2013 | 02:13PM
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