The dramatic manhunt for a fugitive ex-LAPD cop who killed at least four people apparently ended when the cabin he holed up in went up in flames, with ammunition exploding and smoke billowing up into the mountain air.
Christopher Dorner, who hours earlier had killed one San Bernadino sheriff’s deputy and wounded another before barricading himself in the cabin, in the San Bernadino mountains, was believed to be inside. Dorner, who vowed not to be taken alive, had been surrounded inside the cabin since early Tuesday afternoon. It was not clear who set the fire in the rural Big Bear community where Dorner apparently has been hiding since sometime last week.
It was a stunning end to a saga that gripped the nation, and had the nation’s third-largest police department on tenterhooks for a week. Dorner, a former Navy man and highly trained marksman, had vowed revenge on the department he believed had wronged him – designating specific targets for death.
Law enforcement sources said sometime within the last few days, Dorner broke into an cabin off Route 38, on the mountain resort area where days ago his truck was found burning. Two people were held there until Tuesday morning, when Dorner left in a white pickup believed to belong to the occupants, who he left bound inside. One managed to escape and call authorities around 12:50 p.m. local time.
Sometime later, fish and wildlife officers spotted the pickup, which they were looking for, and tried to stop it near Big Bear Lake, authorities said. The driver, believed to have been Dorner, fled on foot, exchanging gunfire, sources told Fox News. Hours later, police were believed to have Dorner cornered in another cabin, exchanging gunfire with the suspect.
There was initial confusion as to where a helicopter should land to evacuate the injured officers, so deputies used their own smoke bombs to give them enough cover to carry the wounded to a pickup truck that carried them to the waiting helicopter.
As the forces surrounding the cabin mounted, the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department shut down Highway 38 to create a choke point, sources told Fox News. Four area schools were on lockdown.
The police also asked the media to stop tweeting events in real time and showing live aerial shots of the cabin, theorizing Dorner could be monitoring events on television. A CBS correspondent briefly found himself in the crossfire as he broadcasted from the event, before police ordered him out of the danger zone.