Body found after Dorner manhunt
Christopher Dorner in a recent surveillance video at an Orange County hotel in a still image released by the Irvine Police Department. Photograph: Irvine Police Department/Reuters
Investigators have found charred human remains in a burned out cabin in the mountains above Los Angeles following a fiery standoff with a gunman suspected to be a fugitive former Los Angeles police officer, authorities said.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff's department said that identification of the remains would be attempted using forensic analysis.
After a shootout and a forest standoff last night, Christopher J Dorner, the former Los Angeles police officer sought in the region's largest manhunt, was apparently killed in the cabin as it burned down around him - but officials had said they needed time to sort through the rubble.
Dorner, a self-described survivalist believed to be heavily armed, had holed up in the rental cabin hours earlier and engaged deputies in a shootout, killing one deputy and wounding a second.
The dramatic chain of events, which included hostage-taking and a chase in vehicles and on foot, played out in the sun-dappled, snowy San Bernardino Mountains.
It was unclear how the fire at the cabin began, but the authorities said that no one escaped the blaze and that Dorner was believed to be alone inside.
Officers, shouting orders through loudspeakers for Dorner to surrender, heard what they believed to be a single gunshot from within.
News organisations widely reported that Dorner's body was found in the building, but a spokesman from the Los Angeles Police Department said Tuesday evening that they did not have the body.
Even after officers retrieve the body, it could take days or weeks to identify it, officials said.
Cindy Bachman, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County sheriff, said in an evening news conference, "We believe that he was still inside the cabin," but that it was not safe to enter because of the heat.
Both the suspect and the police were believed to have used smoke grenades during the shootout.
The two deputies who were shot were airlifted to nearby Loma Linda University Medical Center; the second deputy's condition was not disclosed Tuesday evening, but he was expected to recover.
The standoff drew scores of police officers and sheriff's deputies from surrounding jurisdictions, led by the San Bernardino Sheriff-Coroner Department.
The tension heightened as the day wore on, and local schools were locked down.
Law enforcement agencies ordered news helicopters to keep their distance for the protection of the officers involved. The sheriff's online feed to the department's radio scanner was shut down for the same reason.
Reporters were asked to stop posting updates on Twitter.
The police believed that Dorner was monitoring the news, and Cmdr. Andrew Smith, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department, addressed him directly at a news briefing Tuesday afternoon.
"Enough is enough," Smith said. "It's time to stop the bloodshed and let this incident be over."
Officers had been searching the Big Bear area since last week, when Dorner's burning truck was found on a forest road. Dorner, a former reservist in the Navy, had boasted about his sharpshooting and survival abilities.
Days ago, Dorner apparently broke into a couple's home on Club View Drive, the authorities said Tuesday. The street is nestled beside a golf course in a community called Moonridge near Big Bear Lake. Dorner reportedly tied them up as his hostages and stayed out of sight until yesterday afternoon.
Shortly after 12 p.m. Tuesday, the authorities received a report of a stolen white pickup truck and a description that fit Dorner's. Soon after, he was spotted driving a white 2005 Dodge pickup by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The suspect was driving toward the officer in the opposite lane, said Andrew Hughan, a spokesman for the department. The officer recognized Dorner, stepped out of his vehicle and fired at the suspect, who returned fire. Neither was injured, Hughan said.
The officer and a colleague chased the man, who crashed the pickup, fired at them and ran into the cabin.
More officers arrived and surrounded the cabin, and more gunfire was exchanged.
Dorner fired out a window of the cabin before trying to flee from the rear, throwing a smoke bomb to hide his escape, but police gunfire drove him back inside, the Los Angeles Times reported. The newspaper also reported that deputies used smoke bombs to cover their evacuation of the fallen deputies.
At the news briefing, Smith said the Los Angeles Police Department had officers ready to be deployed from the San Bernardino airport, several miles from the cabin. He said the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department had not yet asked for help from the Los Angeles force.
Smith would not say how many officers were at the airport because they did not want to "tip their hand" in case Dorner was watching.
The standoff capped a week of sightings, shootings and false leads in the hunt for Dorner, who was dismissed from the Los Angeles Police Department in 2008 after investigators concluded that he had lied in his claim that a training officer had assaulted a homeless person.
In a 6,000-word manifesto that Dorner published on his Facebook page, he complained that he had been wrongfully dismissed. He cited racism and corruption in the department and threatened several police officials and their families.
Los Angeles police officers guarded 50 families around the clock, taking up a significant amount of department resources.
On Feb. 3, the police in Irvine, California, discovered the bodies of Monica Quan, 28, and her boyfriend, Keith Lawrence, 27, in their car in a parking garage near a condominium complex where they lived. Quan was the daughter of a retired Los
Angeles police captain who played a role in the disciplinary process that led to Dorner's dismissal.
The police believe that Dorner tried to hijack a boat at a marina in Point Loma, a community in San Diego, at 10:30 p.m. last Wednesday. The man mentioned to the boat's captain that he intended to take the craft to Mexico. But the boat became disabled as he was trying to steal it, so he fled instead.
On Thursday at 1:45 a.m., two officers in a protection detail for one of the people threatened by name in the manifesto confronted a man they believed was Dorner near the person's home in Corona. Shots were exchanged, and one of the officers had a graze wound to his head. The gunman fled.
A short while later, two police officers in Riverside were sitting in their patrol car at a stoplight when they were attacked by a man they believe was Dorner.
One of the officers was killed, the other injured. Again, the gunman fled.
At 5:20 the same morning, Los Angeles officers mistakenly shot and wounded two women delivering newspapers, thinking the pickup truck they were driving matched the description of the one Dorner was driving.
Late that afternoon, the police found the suspect's truck in the San Bernardino Mountains near Big Bear Lake. The hunt then focused on that area, which has only a handful of access roads.
New York Times service/Reuters