7:20 p.m. The extraordinary manhunt for the former Los Angeles police officer suspected of three murders converged Tuesday on a mountain cabin where he was believed to have 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, and a charred body was found inside.
If the man inside proves to be Christopher Dorner, 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 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 Tuesday, 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.
3 p.m. LOS ANGELES — Fugitive former police officer Christopher Dorner allegedly shot and wounded at least two San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies during a shootout with authorities in the Big Bear, Calif., area Tuesday afternoon, sources said.
Dozens of law enforcement officers were racing to the last reported scene of a gun battle near the 7 Oaks Road cabin area near Big Bear.
"There are deputies everywhere on the ground and on foot," said Cindy Bachman, a San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman.
The shooting occurred after Dorner burglarized a home, tied up a couple and stole a white pickup truck, sources said. San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Jodi Miller confirmed deputies responded to a vehicle theft about 12:20 p.m. PST, and the resident who reported the theft said the suspect matched Dorner's description.
The U.S. Forest Service confirms there was an exchange of gunfire between officers on foot and the suspect, in the Santa Ana River drainage, north of State Highway 38 and south of Big Bear Valley. At least one officer of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife was involved, said John Miller, San Bernardino National Forest spokesman. That officer is not believed to be injured.
Dorner's status was not immediately known as the gunfight continued.
Officers have crisscrossed California for days pursuing the more than 1,000 tips that poured in about Dorner's possible whereabouts - including efforts in Tijuana, Mexico, San Diego County and Big Bear - and serving warrants at homes in Las Vegas and San Diego's Point Loma.
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 Wednesday, three days after the slaying of a couple in Irvine, Calif.: Monica Quan, a California State University, Fullerton, assistant basketball coach, and her fiance, Keith Lawrence, a public safety officer at the University of Southern California.
Quan was the daughter of a retired LAPD captain whom Dorner allegedly blamed in part for his firing from the force in 2009.
Federal documents also provide new details on Dorner's alleged attack against officers early Thursday in Riverside County.
The first shooting was in Corona after an eyewitness reported a person matching Dorner's description at a gas station, telling an LAPD officer "who was detailed to the area to protect one of the officials whom Dorner had threatened," according to the court records.
"When the officer drove by the gas station, the suspect exited his vehicle and fired an assault rifle at the officer, hitting the officer's vehicle," according to the court records.
The LAPD later said the officer received a grazing wound.
About 30 minutes later, Dorner opened fire on Riverside police officers "who were in the area searching for Dorner," the documents said. On that detail, the account conflicts with a statement provided to the media by Riverside police officials, who said the officers were stopped at a red light and were not looking for Dorner.
Riverside Officer Michael Crain, 34, a married father of two who served two tours in Kuwait as a rifleman in the Marines, was killed in the attack. His partner remains hospitalized, Police Chief Sergio Diaz said, and it was unclear if he would be able to return to active duty.
Dorner was charged Monday with one count of murder, with special-circumstance allegations in the killing of a peace officer and the discharge of a firearm from a vehicle, in connection with Crain's death. He faces three additional charges of attempted murder.
Riverside District Attorney Paul Zellerbach said because of the special-circumstance allegations, Dorner could be eligible for the death penalty if convicted.
— Wire reports
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