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Dorner dispatch recording: 'We have an officer down'

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In the harrowing first minutes of the police shootout with suspected killer Christopher Dorner on Feb. 12 near Big Bear, officers scrambled to help two wounded officers who were ambushed outside a mountain cabin.

“We need an airship! We have an officer down! Officer down!’’ one of the first responders shouted into his police radio.

“Copy. Officer down. Officer down,’’ a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s dispatcher responded,  her
stress palpable.

Voices from the gun battle were captured in 12 hours of static-filled sheriff’s dispatch recordings released by the San Bernardino County attorney’s office Monday.

The recordings provided a minute-by-minute narration of law enforcement officers scouring the San Bernardino Mountains after receiving a 911 call from the couple that Dorner kidnapped. One of the kidnapping victims, Karen Reynolds, managed to break free after being tied up by Dorner and called police.

Dorner, a fired Los Angeles police officer who is suspected of killing four people and wounding three others, died during the standoff from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head, according to
coroner’s officials.

On the recordings, officers closing in on Dorner near Angelus Oaks were calling out to one another on the radio, and to sheriff’s dispatchers, hoping someone had caught sight of the violent fugitive.

Dorner, hidden inside one of the cabins, opened fire without warning.

“Shots fired! Seven oaks cabin! Seven oaks cabin!” one of the officers called in.

“Returning fire.”

Within a minute, the first call of an officer down went over the police airwaves. Then came another distressing call.

“Another officer down!” a deputy called in.

“Copy: another officer down,” a dispatcher acknowledged.

“We don’t have eyes on the subject,” an officer said.

Officers at the scene of the shooting reported that Dorner was tossing smoke canisters. They radioed  for an armored police vehicle to help rescue the downed officers, who lay wounded in a clearing in front of the cabin. Nearly 10 minutes had elapsed since the officers were ambushed.

Where’s the rescue helicopter, officers at the scene asked.  Incoming, the dispatcher assured them.

“The [deputies] are still down in the kill zone. So we're waiting to get the vehicle to move them out,’’ an officer at the scene said. “We’re going to be popping smoke and moving vehicles to get the [deputies] out.’’

The two wounded officers were quickly loaded onto a black Chevrolet pickup truck and sped away — forced to wait more minutes to get them onto a helicopter to Loma Linda University Medical Center. The frustration was easy to detect in the officers' voices.

Sheriff’s Det. Jeremiah MacKay was killed in the shootout and Deputy Alex Collins was seriously
wounded.

After surrounding the century-old cabin, a sheriff’s tactical unit fired pyrotechnic tear gas canisters inside. Within minutes, the cabin was on fire. Officers heard one shot fired from inside — a shot they described as sounding different than other gunfire coming from inside the house. They suspect it was  Dorner taking his own life.

The cabin burned to the ground.  Dorner’s body was found in the basement.

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Twitter: @philwillon

phil.willon@latimes.com

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