Los Angeles police are still waiting on the results of tests of charred remains for proof positive that Christopher Dorner is dead, as a lengthy manhunt for the former cop-turned-killer ended in a “bittersweet” shootout Tuesday evening.
One official with knowledge of the police investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity said investigators found a California driver’s license with the name Christopher Dorner on it, along with a wallet and various personal items, inside the cabin, according to The Associated Press.
One deputy was shot and killed at the Big Bear Lake cabin shootout; another was seriously injured.
“It is a bittersweet night,” said LA Police Chief Charlie Beck, in a report from the Los Angeles Times, as he drove to the hospital to visit one wounded deputy . “This could have ended much better, it could have ended worse. I feel for the family of the deputy who lost his life.”
The hospitalized deputy is expected to need several surgeries, the L.A. Times reported.
The two maids Mr. Dorner reportedly tied Tuesday morning, before fleeing in their car, were not injured, according to various media. And neither was the man whose pickup truck was later hijacked, according to the L.A. Times. After taking the maids’ car, Mr. Dorner reportedly carjacked a truck from Rick Heltebrake.
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“Can I take my dog?” Mr. Heltebrake asked Mr. Dorner, according to statements reported in the L.A. Times.
“You can leave and you can take your dog,” Mr. Dorner reportedly told Mr. Heltebrake, according to the L.A. Times.
Mr. Dorner was charged in the murder of three — a couple and a police officer — days earlier, prompting the biggest manhunt in California history.
It apparently came to a violent, fiery end Tuesday night after fugitive ex-Los Angeles cop Christopher Dorner’s cabin hideout was engulfed in flames in a remote corner of the San Bernardino mountains.
Dorner, 33, whose anger over being fired from the force fueled a weeklong shooting spree that left four dead, never emerged from the cabin near Big Bear Lake even as it burned to the ground and smoke rose from the snow-covered mountains.
Police and fire units were standing down and allowing the cabin to burn after it caught fire Tuesday afternoon. The sound of ammunition exploding inside the cabin could be heard.
Authorities on the scene told the Associated Press overnight that charred remains believed to be the body of Dorner were found inside the burning cabin — but officials cautioned that tests would be needed to establish positive identification.
“We have reason to believe that it is him,” said San Bernardino County sheriff’s spokeswoman Cynthia Bachman.
A single shot was heard inside before the cabin was engulfed in flames, a law enforcement official told AP.
Dorner barricaded himself in the cabin Tuesday after a firefight in Big Bear that left one officer dead and another wounded. KTLA-TV reported that officers pumped tear gas into the cabin and blasted a message over a loudspeaker urging him to surrender.
The station, citing a law-enforcement source, said that police deployed a vehicle to tear down the walls of the cabin “like peeling an onion” after receiving no response from the suspect. The source of the fire was unknown at press time, although it could have been triggered by the tear gas or set by the suspect.
San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies set up two perimeters around the remote cabin, located several miles from the town of Big Bear, while evacuating neighbors and setting up roadblocks designed to stop Dorner from escaping.
“The best thing would be for him to surrender,” said Los Angeles Police Department commander Andrew Smith in an afternoon press conference. “If he’s watching this, the message for himself is, ‘Enough is enough. It’s time to turn yourself in, it’s time to stop the bloodshed, it’s time to let this event and let this incident be over.’”
Dorner reportedly broke into a cabin off Highway 38 and held a couple hostage until he left Tuesday morning in a white pick-up truck. He was spotted by state Fish and Game officers and exchanged gunfire with them before crashing his truck and fleeing on foot to the cabin.
Cmdr. Smith said he was unaware whether there was anyone else in the cabin. At one point, the suspect reportedly set off smoke grenades near the cabin in an unsuccessful effort to escape.
Authorities closed air traffic over the cabin during the standoff, but then allowed helicopters to film the area after the cabin caught on fire.
Dorner, who left behind an angry and rambling manifesto vowing revenge on the LAPD for firing him in 2009, shot and killed two police officers and the daughter of a police captain before disappearing Thursday evening.
Dorner said he was fired for making a false report after he accused a training officer of kicking a homeless man. In his manifesto, Dorner, who is black, said he was the victim of racism and named several dozen people associated with the LAPD as targets.
The funeral for Riverside police officer Michael Crain, one of the shooting victims, is scheduled to be held Wednesday.
A multi-agency manhunt involving hundreds of officers turned up his burnt-out truck in Big Bear but no sign of the former police officer. Dorner said he wanted his name cleared and that he would refuse to be captured alive.
“Unfortunately, I will not be alive to see my name cleared,” said Dorner in the 11-page manifesto. “That’s what this is about, my name. A man is nothing without his name.”