California cabin shootout: Burnt remains found

Last updated 21:31 13/02/2013
Reuters

A gunman, thought to be a fugitive ex-cop, trades gunfire with lawmen at a California mountain cabin, killing one before the building burns to the ground. Sarah Charlton reports.

Dorner
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A CBS screenshot shows flames and smoke coming from the cabin where fugitive Christopher Dorner was believed to be hiding.

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A sheriff's spokeswoman says charred human remains have been found in the burned-out cabin where a fugitive former Los Angeles police officer was believed to be.

San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Jodi Miller says the remains were found late today after a shootout with a gunman that killed one sheriff's deputy and injured another. Authorities believe Christopher Dorner, 33, barricaded himself inside the cabin and a fire later ensued.

Investigators will attempt to determine if the remains are Dorner's through forensic tests.


Photos of the manhunt


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.

The death of a sheriff's deputy in the shootout at the cabin, located in the snow-covered mountains of the San Bernardino National Forest, brought to four the number of killings Dorner is suspected of committing.

An angry, rambling manifesto posted last week on Dorner's Facebook page claimed he had been wrongly terminated from the Los Angeles Police Department in 2008. He vowed to seek revenge by unleashing "unconventional and asymmetrical warfare" on law enforcement officers and their families.

Police tracked the gunman to the forest cabin after he broke into another home near the ski resort community of Big Bear Lake, tying up a couple there and stealing their pickup truck, authorities said.

A state game warden apparently on the lookout for Dorner exchanged gunshots with the driver of the stolen truck. The vehicle was later abandoned and the driver fled into the forest.

Officials of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said the gunman then barricaded himself inside another cabin and engaged in a shootout with police as they closed in on him.

‘‘We’re heartbroken,’’ Big Bear Lake Mayor Jay Obernolte said of the deputy’s death and the wounding of his colleague.

‘‘Words can’t express how grateful we are for the sacrifice those men have made in defence of the community and our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families.’’

The man believed to be Dorner never came out of the cabin, and a single shot was heard inside before the cabin was engulfed in flames, a law enforcement official said earlier today.

FUGITIVE'S FIRST MOVES

Police said Dorner began his run on February 6 after they connected the slayings of a former police captain’s daughter and her fiance with an angry Facebook rant they said he posted. Threats against the LAPD led officials to assign officers to protect officers and their families.

Within hours of the release of photos of the 1.83mm, 122kg man described as armed and ‘‘extremely dangerous,’’ police said, Dorner unsuccessfully tried to steal a boat in San Diego to flee to Mexico and opened fire on two patrol cars in Riverside County, shooting three officers and killing one.

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Jumpy officers guarding one of the targets named in the rant shot and injured two women delivering newspapers because they mistook their pickup truck for Dorner’s.

Police found weapons and camping gear inside the charred truck in Big Bear.

Helicopters using heat-seeking technology searched the forest from above while scores of officers, some using bloodhounds, scoured the ground and checked hundreds of vacation cabins - many vacant this time of year - in the area.

A snowstorm hindered the search and may have helped cover his tracks, though authorities were hopeful he would leave fresh footprints if hiding in the wilderness.

Dorner’s anger with the department dated back at least five years, when he was fired for filing a false report accusing his training officer of kicking a mentally ill suspect.

Dorner, who is black, claimed in the rant that he was the subject of racism by the department and fired for doing the right thing.

He said he would get even with those who wronged him as part of his plan to reclaim his good name.

‘‘You’re going to see what a whistleblower can do when you take everything from him especially his NAME!!!’’ the rant said.

‘‘You have awoken a sleeping giant.’’

Chief Charlie Beck, who initially dismissed the allegations in the rant, said reopened the investigation into his firing — not to appease the ex-officer, but to restore confidence in the black community, which long had a fractured relationship with police that has improved in recent years.

One of the targets listed in the manifesto was former LAPD Captain Randal Quan, who represented Dorner before the disciplinary board. Dorner claimed he put the interests of the department above his.

The first victims were Quan’s daughter, Monica Quan, 28, a college basketball coach, and her fiance, Keith Lawrence, 27.

They were shot multiple times in their car in a parking garage near their Orange County condo.

Dorner served in the Navy, earning a rifle marksman ribbon and pistol expert medal.

He was assigned to a naval undersea warfare unit and various aviation training units, according to military records.

He took leave from the LAPD for a six-month deployment to Bahrain in 2006 and 2007.

He left the service on February 1.

- AP

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