Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Christopher Dorner is Dead: Police Recover Suspect's Remains at Big Bear Cabin

Police won't officially confirm the identification of the body until tests are concluded, and I'll update if it's not Dorner.

See the Los Angeles Times, "Dorner manhunt: Investigators work to ID charred human remains."

And here's the background report from this morning's hard-copy of the newspaper, "Dorner manhunt leads to deadly standoff":

Big Bear Shooting
Last week, authorities had tracked Dorner to a wooded area near Big Bear Lake. They found his torched gray Nissan Titan with several weapons inside. The only trace of Dorner was a short trail of footprints in newly fallen snow.

On Tuesday morning two maids entered a cabin in the 1200 block of Club View Drive and ran into a man who they said resembled the fugitive, a law enforcement official said. The cabin was not far from where Dorner's singed truck had been found and where police had been holding press conferences about the manhunt.

The man tied up the maids, and he took off in a purple Nissan parked near the cabin. About 12:20 p.m., one of the maids broke free and called police.

Nearly half an hour later, officers with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife spotted the stolen vehicle and called for backup. The suspect turned down a side road in an attempt to elude the officers but crashed the vehicle, police said.

A short time later, authorities said the suspect carjacked a light-colored pickup truck. Allan Laframboise said the truck belonged to his friend Rick Heltebrake, who works at a nearby Boy Scout camp.

Heltebrake was driving on Glass Road with his Dalmatian, Suni, when a hulking African American man stepped into the road, Laframboise said. Heltebrake stopped. The man told him to get out of the truck.

"Can I take my dog?" Heltebrake asked, according to his friend.

"You can leave and you can take your dog," the man said. He then sped off in the Dodge extended-cab pickup — and quickly encountered two Department of Fish and Wildlife trucks.

As the suspect zoomed past the officers, he rolled down his window and fired about 15 to 20 rounds. One of the officers jumped out and shot a high-powered rifle at the fleeing pickup. The suspect abandoned the vehicle and took off on foot.

Police said he ended up at the Seven Oaks Mountain Cabins, a cluster of wood-frame buildings about halfway between Big Bear Lake and Yucaipa. The suspect exchanged gunfire with San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies as he fled into a cabin that locals described as a single-story, multi-room structure.

The suspect fired from the cabin, striking one deputy, law enforcement sources said. Then he ducked out the back of the cabin, deployed a smoke bomb and opened fire again, hitting a second deputy. Neither deputy was identified by authorities. The suspect retreated back into the cabin.

The gun battle was captured on TV by KCAL 9 reporter Carter Evans, who said he was about 200 feet from the cabin. As Evans described on air how deputies were approaching the structure, he was interrupted by 10 seconds of gunfire.

Deputies drew their weapons and sprinted toward Evans. Someone yelled for him to move — then about 20 more seconds of shooting erupted.

"Hey! Get … out of here, pal," someone shouted. Evans was unharmed.

The gunfire gave way to a tense standoff. Mountain residents locked their doors and hunkered down.

Holly Haas, 52, who lives about a mile from where the shootout unfolded, said she heard helicopters buzzing on and off until about 3:30. One dipped so close to her home, she said, "I could throw a rock and hit it."

Others watched the standoff unfold on television. At her home, Candy Martin sat down to watch TV when, to her surprise, she spotted her rental cabin on-screen — where the suspect was believed to be holed up.

She contacted police and told them that the furnished, 85-year-old cabin had no cable, telephone or Internet service. No one had booked it for Monday.

"There should have been nobody," she recalled saying. "Nobody in any way."

Within hours, authorities moved in on the cabin. The fire broke out, setting off ammunition that had apparently been inside. On TV, viewers saw only the orange flames and curls of black smoke.

As night fell, authorities had yet to enter the building, said San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Bachman. "They believe there is a body in there," she said.