Investigators have not been able to enter the still smoldering remains of the California mountain cabin where they believe fugitive ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner barricaded himself today, but they believe he was still there as the structure burned to the ground, police said tonight.
Cindy Bachman, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, which is the lead agency in the action, said the cabin in the San Bernardino Mountains near Big Bear was still too hot and dangerous for investigators to enter.
She said, however, that a suspect they believe is Dorner entered the cabin and did not come out as it burned to the ground.
"We believe that he was still inside the cabin [as it burned down], yes," Bachman said.
"Right, we believe, correct, we believe, we believe that the person that barricaded himself inside the cabin engaged in gunfire with our deputies and other law enforcement officers, is still inside there, even though the building burned, yes," she said.
Bachman spoke shortly after the Los Angeles Police Department denied reports that a body was found in the cabin, contradicting what law enforcement sources told ABC News and other news organizations.
Police around the cabin told ABC News they saw Dorner enter but never leave the building as it was consumed by flames, creating a billowing column of black smoke seen for miles.
One sheriff's deputy was killed in a shootout with Dorner earlier today, believed to be his fourth and final victim after killing an LAPD officer and two other people this month, including the daughter of a former police captain, and promising to kill many more in an online manifesto.
Cops said they heard a single gunshot go off from inside the cabin just as they began to see smoke and fire. Later they heard the sound of more gunshots, the sound of ammunition being ignited by the heat of the blaze, law enforcement officials said.
Police did not enter the building, but exchanged fire with Dorner and shot tear gas into the building.
One of the largest dragnets in recent history, which led police to follow clues across the West and into Mexico, apparently ended just miles from where Dorner's trail went cold last week.
Police got a break at 12:20 p.m. PT, when they received a 911 call that a suspect resembling Dorner had broken into a home in the Big Bear area, taken two hostages and stolen a car.
The two hostages, who were tied up by Dorner but later escaped, were evaluated by paramedics and were determined to be uninjured.
Officials say Dorner crashed the stolen vehicle and fled on foot to the cabin where he barricaded himself and exchanged fire with deputies from the San Bernardino Sheriff's Office and state Fish and Game officers.
Two deputies were wounded in the firefight and airlifted to a nearby hospital, where one died, police said. The second deputy was in surgery and was expected to survive, police said.
Police sealed all the roads into the area, preventing cars from entering the area and searching all of those on the way out. Are schools were briefly placed on lockdown.
Believing that Dorner might have been watching reports of the standoff, authorities asked media not to broadcast images of police surrounding the cabin, but sent him a message.