Manhunt for former LAPD officer culminates in shootout, cabin fire
In this image taken from video provided by KABC-TV, the cabin in Big Bear, Calif. where ex-Los Angeles police officer Christopher Dorner is believed to be barricaded inside is in flames Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. (AP Photo/KABC-TV) MANDATORY CREDIT: KABC-TV
This undated photo released by the Los Angeles Police Department shows suspect Christopher Dorner, a former Los Angeles officer. Seeking leads in a massive manhunt, Los Angeles authorities on Sunday put up a $1 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Christopher Dorner, the former Los Angeles police officer suspected in three killings. (AP Photo/Los Angeles Police Department)
Police stand at a road block at Hwy. 38 and Bryant Street just north of Yucaipa, Calif. as a gunfight between police and fugitive ex-Los Angeles cop Christopher Dorner takes place farther up the highway in the Seven Oaks community, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. (AP Photo/The Press-Enterprise, Stan Lim) NO SALES; MAGS OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
Law enforcement officials respond after Christopher Dorner, the fugitive ex-Los Angeles cop sought in three killings, engaged in a shootout with authorities that wounded two officers in the San Bernardino Mountains near Big Bear Lake, Calif., Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. (AP Photo/The Sun, Rachel Luna) VENTURA COUNTY STAR OUT; RIVERSIDE PRESS-ENTERPRISE OUT; THE VICTOR VALLEY DAILY PRESS OUT
Law Enforcement personnel gear up along Hwy 38 during the hunt for accused killer and fired Los Angeles police officer, Christopher Dorner in Yacaipa, Caif.,Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. Dorner, a man police believe to be the fugitive ex-Los Angeles officer wanted in three killings, was barricaded inside a burning cabin Tuesday after a shootout in a California mountain town that left one deputy dead and another wounded. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
The extraordinary manhunt for the former Los Angeles police officer suspected of three murders converged yesterday 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. Officials were waiting for the fire to burn out before approaching the ruins to search for a body.
If the man inside proves to be Christopher Dorner, 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 the 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 officials briefed the news media under tight security with Dorner on the loose.
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 yesterday, authorities didn’t know whether Dorner was still near Big Bear Lake, where they found his burned-out pickup last week.
About 12:20 p.m. local time yesterday, deputies received 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 Thursday and not far from where Dorner’s pickup was abandoned. The owner of the vehicle taken yesterday 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.