Christopher Dorner shootout: Body found in burned cabin
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A body was found inside the burned-out cabin Tuesday night where Christopher Jordan Dorner was believed to have kept law enforcement authorities at bay before officers fired tear gas into the structure, a source told The Times.
The body, which was found in the charred rubble of the mountainside cabin, was not positively identified, the source said. The process of determining whether the body is that of the former Los Angeles Police Department officer could take hours or even days, the source said.
As authorities moved into the cabin earlier Tuesday, they heard a single gunshot.
According to a law enforcement source, police had broken down windows, fired tear gas into the cabin and blasted over a loud speaker, urging Dorner to surrender. When they got no response, police deployed a vehicle to rip down the walls of the cabin “one by one, like peeling an onion,” a law enforcement official said.
By the time they got to the last wall, authorities heard a single gunshot, the source said. Then flames began to spread through the structure, and gunshots, probably set off by the fire, were heard.
As darkness descended on the mountainside, Dorner’s body had not been found, authorities said. Police were planning to focus their search in the basement area, the source said.
Earlier Tuesday, a tall plume of smoke was rising as flames consumed the wood-paneled cabin. Hundreds of law enforcement personnel had swooped down on the site near Big Bear after the gun battles between Dorner and officers that broke out in the snow-covered mountains where the fugitive had been eluding a massive manhunt since his truck was found burning in the area late last week.
Law enforcement personnel in military-style gear and armed with high-powered weapons took up positions in the heavily forested area as the tense standoff progressed.
One San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy died of his wounds after he and another deputy were wounded in an exchange of gunfire outside the cabin in which hundreds of rounds were fired, sources told The Times. The deputy was airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where he died of his wounds.
The afternoon gun battle was part of a quickly changing situation that began after Dorner allegedly broke into a home, tied up a couple and held them hostage. He then stole a silver pickup truck, sources said.
Then Dorner was allegedly spotted by a state Fish and Wildlife officer in the pickup truck, sources said. A vehicle-to-vehicle shootout ensued. The officer’s vehicle was peppered with multiple rounds, according to authorities.
Dorner crashed his vehicle and took refuge in a nearby cabin, sources said. One deputy was hit as Dorner fired out of the cabin and a second deputy was injured when Dorner exited the back of the cabin, deployed a smoke bomb and opened fire again in an apparent attempt to flee. Dorner was driven back inside the cabin, the sources said.
During the unprecedented manhunt, officers had crisscrossed California for days pursuing the more than 1,000 tips that poured in about Dorner’s possible whereabouts -- including efforts in Tijuana, San Diego County and Big Bear -- and serving warrants at homes in Las Vegas and the Point Loma area of San Diego.
Statewide alerts were issued in California and Nevada, and border authorities were alerted. The Transportation Security Administration also had issued an alert urging pilots and other aircraft operators to keep an eye out for Dorner.
The search turned to Big Bear last week after Dorner’s burning truck was found on a local forest road.
At the search’s height, more than 200 officers scoured the mountain, conducting cabin-by-cabin checks. It was scaled back Sunday -- about 30 officers were out in the field Tuesday, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said.
Dorner allegedly threatened “unconventional and asymmetrical warfare” against police in a lengthy manifesto that authorities say he posted on Facebook. The posting named dozens of potential targets, including police officers, whom Dorner allegedly threatened to attack, according to authorities.
Records state that the manifesto was discovered by authorities last Wednesday, three days after the slaying of an Irvine couple: Monica Quan, a Cal State Fullerton assistant basketball coach, and her fiance, Keith Lawrence, a USC public safety officer.
Quan was the daughter of a retired LAPD captain whom Dorner allegedly blamed in part for his firing from the force in 2009.
-- Robert Lopez and Andrew Blankstein