Rogue Ex-LAPD Officer Believed Dead After Standoff
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Photo by Joe Klamer / Getty Images
As police scoured mountain peaks for days, using everything from bloodhounds to high-tech helicopters, the revenge-seeking ex-cop they wanted was hiding among them, holed up in a vacation cabin across the street from their command post.
Key Events In Dorner Manhunt
— Sunday, Feb. 3: An assistant women's college basketball coach and her fiance are found shot to death in their car in Irvine, Calif. Police learn later the woman was the daughter of a retired Los Angeles police captain who represented Dorner in disciplinary hearings that resulted in his dismissal from the force.
— Monday, Feb. 4: Some of Dorner's belongings, including police equipment, are found in a trash bin in suburban San Diego, linking him to Irvine killings.
— Wednesday, Feb. 6: Police announce finding Dorner's manifesto online.
— 10:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 6: A man matching Dorner's description makes a failed attempt to steal a boat from a San Diego marina. An 81-year-old man on the vessel is tied up but otherwise unharmed.
— 1:30 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 7: LAPD officers, protecting a person named in the manifesto, chase a vehicle they believe is Dorner's. One officer is grazed in the forehead by a bullet during a shootout, and the gunman flees.
A short time later, a shooter believed to be Dorner ambushes two Riverside police officers during a routine patrol. One officer is killed, and the other critically injured.
— 2:20 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 7: A shuttle bus driver turns in a wallet with an LAPD badge and a picture ID of Dorner to San Diego police. The wallet was found fewer than five miles from the boat, near San Diego International Airport.
— 5 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 7: LAPD officers guarding a manifesto target in the Los Angeles suburb of Torrance open fire on a truck they mistakenly believe to be Dorner's. A mother and daughter delivering the newspaper are injured.
A short time later, Torrance police are involved in a second shooting involving a different truck they also mistake for Dorner's. Nobody is hurt.
— 8:35 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 7: Police find a burned-out pickup truck near the Big Bear ski area in the San Bernardino Mountains. Six hours later, authorities identify it as Dorner's.
— 9:40 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 7: Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego is locked down after a Navy worker reports seeing someone who resembles Dorner. Military officials later said Dorner had indeed checked into a hotel on base earlier in the week — on Tuesday — but had left on Wednesday.
— 4 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 7: Authorities search a Las Vegas-area home belonging to Dorner and leave with several boxes of items. They say no weapons were found but decline to disclose what was discovered.
— Friday, Feb. 8: Dozens of searchers hunt for Dorner in the freezing, snowy San Bernardino Mountains after losing his footprints near the site where the truck was found. Authorities search Dorner's mother's house in La Palma and collect 10 bags of evidence and also take five electronic items for examination. Police also search a storage locker in Buena Park.
— Saturday, Feb. 9: Helicopters equipped with heat-seeking technology resume search for Dorner in the mountains near Big Bear. Authorities reveal that weapons and camping gear were found in Dorner's burned truck.
— Sunday, Feb. 10: Authorities announce $1 million reward for information leading to Dorner's arrest.
— Monday, Feb. 11: Riverside County prosecutors charge Dorner with murdering a police officer and the attempted murder of three other officers in a potential death penalty case. Authorities receive more than 700 tips since the reward was announced.
— 12:20 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 12: Police are summoned after a man resembling Dorner steals a purple Nissan in the San Bernardino Mountains. The vehicle is quickly spotted by California Department of Fish and Wildlife wardens on Highway 38. After briefly losing the suspect, the wardens see a white pickup truck driving toward them erratically and at a high rate of speed. Wardens say Dorner rolled down his window and opened fire as he drove past them in the opposite directions.
One of the wardens was able to get out and fire at the driver, who escaped on foot after crashing his truck.
— 12:40 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 12: State Fish and Wildlife wardens are involved in a shootout with the suspect. Two San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies are wounded in a second exchange of gunfire and are transported to Loma Linda Medical Center.
— 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 12: Police surround the cabin where the suspect is holed up and gunfire erupts before a blaze engulfs the structure and law enforcement officers wait for the fire to burn out.
— 4:50 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 12: A San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman confirms one of the two wounded deputies has died, and the other is in surgery and expected to survive.
— 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 12: A law enforcement officials tells the AP a charred body has been found in the rubble of the burned cabin. They don't confirm the identity, although authorities earlier said they believed the man in the cabin was Dorner.
It was there that Christopher Dorner apparently took refuge last Thursday, four days after beginning a deadly rampage that would claim four lives.
The search ended abruptly Tuesday when a man believed to be Dorner bolted from hiding, stole two cars, barricaded himself in a vacant cabin and mounted a last stand in a furious shootout in which he killed one sheriff's deputy and wounded another before the building erupted in flames.
He never emerged from the ruins and hours later a charred body was found inside.
"We have reason to believe that it is him," San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Cynthia Bachman said.
Dorner, 33, had said in a lengthy rant police believe he posted on Facebook that he expected to die in one final, violent confrontation with police, and if it was him in the cabin that's just what happened.
The apparent end came very close to where his trail went cold six days earlier when his burning pickup truck — with guns and camping gear inside — was abandoned on a fire road in the San Bernardino National Forest near the ski resort town of Big Bear Lake.
His footprints led away from the truck and vanished on frozen soil.
With no sign of him and few leads, police offered a $1 million reward to bring him to justice and end a "reign of terror" that had more than 50 families of targeted Los Angeles police officers under round-the-clock protection after he threatened to bring "warfare" to the LAPD, officers and their kin.
Just a few hours after police announced Tuesday that they had fielded more than 1,000 tips with no sign of Dorner, word came that a man matching his description had tied up two people in a Big Bear Lake cabin, stole their car and fled. Authorities didn't immediately give more details on the two people.
Game wardens from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife who were part of the search detail spotted the purple Nissan that had been reported stolen going in the opposite direction and gave chase, department spokesman Lt. Patrick Foy said. The driver looked like Dorner.
They lost the purple car after it passed a school bus and turned onto a side road, but two other Fish and Wildlife patrols turned up that road a short time later, and were searching for the car when a white pickup truck sped erratically toward the wardens.
"He took a close look at the driver and realized it was the suspect," Foy said.
Dorner, who allegedly stole the pickup truck at gunpoint after crashing the first car, rolled down a window and opened fire on the wardens, striking a warden's truck more than a dozen times.
One of the wardens shot at the suspect as he rounded a curve in the road. It's unclear if he hit him, but the stolen pickup careened off the road and crashed in a snow bank. Dorner then ran on foot to the cabin where he barricaded himself and got in a shootout with San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies and other officers who arrived.
Two deputies were shot, one fatally.
A SWAT team surrounded the cabin and used an armored vehicle to break out the cabin windows, said a law enforcement official who requested anonymity because the investigation was ongoing. The officers then pumped a gas into the cabin and blasted a message over a loudspeaker: "Surrender or come out."
The armored vehicle then tore down each of the cabin's four walls.
A single shot was heard inside before the cabin was engulfed in flames, the law enforcement official told The Associated Press.
Until Tuesday, authorities weren't sure Dorner was still in Big Bear Lake, where his pickup truck was found within walking distance from the cabin where he hid.
Even door-to-door searches failed to turn up any trace of him in the quiet, bucolic neighborhood where children were playing in the snow Tuesday night.
With many searchers leaving town amid speculation he was long gone, the command center across the street was taken down Monday.
Ron Erickson, whose house is only about quarter mile away, said officers interrogated him to make sure he wasn't being held hostage. Erickson himself had been keeping a nervous watch on his neighborhood, but he never saw the hulking Dorner.
"I looked at all the cabins that backed the national forest and I just didn't think to look at the one across from the command post," he said. "It didn't cross my mind. It just didn't."
Police say Dorner began his run on Feb. 6 after they connected the slayings of a former police captain's daughter and her fiance with his angry manifesto.
Dorner blamed LAPD Capt. Randal Quan for providing poor representation before the police disciplinary board that fired him for filing a false report.
Dorner, who is black, claimed in his online rant that he was the subject of racism by the department and was targeted for doing the right thing.
Chief Charlie Beck, who initially dismissed Dorner's allegations, said he would reopen the investigation into his firing — not to appease the ex-officer, but to restore confidence in the black community, which had a long fractured relationship with police that has improved in recent years.
Dorner vowed to get even with those who had 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."
Within hours of being named as a suspect in the killings, the 6-foot, 270-pounder described as armed and "extremely dangerous," tried unsuccessfully to steal a boat in San Diego to flee to Mexico. After leaving a trail of evidence, he headed north where he opened fire on two patrol cars in Riverside County, shooting three officers and killing one.
With a description of his car broadcast all over the Southwest and Mexico, he managed to get to the mountains 80 miles east of Los Angeles where his burning truck was found with a broken axle.
Only a short distance from the truck, he spent his final days with a front-row seat to the search mobilized right outside.
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