|Dorner Not IDed, But Manhunt Considered Over|
|By RUSSELL GOLDMAN (@GoldmanRussell) and MICHAEL S. JAMES||Feb 13, 2013, 2:55 AM|
Though they have not yet identified burned remains found at the scene of Tuesday's fiery, armed standoff, San Bernardino, Calif., officials consider the manhunt over for Christopher Dorner, the fugitive ex-cop accused of going on a killing spree.
"The events that occurred yesterday in the Big Bear area brought to close an extensive manhunt," San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon told reporters this evening.
"I cannot absolutely, positively confirm it was him," he added.
However, he noted the physical description of the suspect authorities pursued to a cabin at the standoff scene, as well as the suspect's behavior during the chase and standoff, matched Dorner, 33.
The charred remains of the body believed to be Dorner were removed from the cabin high in the San Bernardino Mountains near Big Bear, Calif., the apparent site of Dorner's last stand. Cornered inside the mountain cabin Tuesday, the suspect shot at cops, killing one deputy and wounding another, before the building was consumed by flames.
"We did not intentionally burn down that cabin to get Mr. Dorner out," McMahon said tonight, though he noted pyrotechnic canisters known as "burners" were fired into the cabin during a tear gas assault in an effort to flush out Dorner. The canisters generate high temperatures, he added.
The deputies wounded in the firefight were airlifted to a nearby hospital, where one died, police said.
The deceased deputy was identified tonight as Det. Jeremiah MacKay, 35, a 15-year veteran and the father of two children -- a daughter, 7, and son, 4 months old.
"Our department is grieving from this event," McMahon said. "It is a terrible deal for all of us."
The Associated Press quoted MacKay on the Dorner dragnet Tuesday, noting that he had been on patrol since 5 a.m. Saturday.
"This one you just never know if the guy's going to pop out, or where he's going to pop out," MacKay said. "We're hoping this comes to a close without more casualties. The best thing would be for him to give up."
The wounded deputy, identified as Alex Collins, was undergoing multiple surgeries for his wounds at a hospital, McMahon said, but was expected to make a full recovery.
Before the final standoff, Dorner was apparently holed up in a snow-covered cabin in the California mountains just steps from where police had set up a command post and held press conferences during a five-day manhunt.
The manhunt for Dorner, one of the biggest in recent memory, led police to follow clues across the West and into Mexico, but it ended just miles from where Dorner's trail went cold last week.
Residents of the area were relieved today that after a week of heightened police presence and fear that Dorner was likely dead.
"I'm glad no one else can get hurt and they caught him. I'm happy they caught the bad guy," said Ashley King, a waitress in the nearby town of Angelus Oaks, Calif.
Hundreds of cops scoured the mountains near Big Bear, a resort area in Southern California, since last Thursday using bloodhounds and thermal-imaging technology mounted to helicopters, in the search for Dorner. The former police officer and Navy marksman was suspected to be the person who killed a cop and cop's daughter and issued a "manifesto" declaring he was bent on revenge and pledging to kill dozens of LAPD cops and their family members.
But it now appears that Dorner never left the area, and may have hid out in an unoccupied cabin just steps from where cops had set up a command center.
Christopher Dorner Apparently Hid Near the Dragnet's Command Center
His presence was detected Tuesday when two women arrived at the cabin to clean it and were tied up. Dorner stole their car and fled. One of the women eventually worked herself free and alerted police, according to California Fish and Game Department spokesman Andrew Hughan. The Fish and Game officers were assisting in the dragnet for Dorner.
Dorner crashed that car and hijacked a pickup truck as officials from the state Fish and Game Department pursued him.
"I saw some movement in the trees and it was Christopher Dorner," Rick Heltebrake, the pickup's driver, told ABC News. "And he came out onto the road, out of the snow. And he was dressed in all camouflage and had a big assault, sniper-type rifle. And he had a vest on, like a ballistics vest.
"He was dressed up to do some damage it looked like," Heltebrake said. "He said, 'I don't want to hurt you. Just get out and start walking up the road and take your dog with you.'"
Dorner then took off into the woods on foot, where sheriff's deputies pursued him to a rental cabin in which he barricaded himself and began firing.
"There were rounds being fired," McMahon told reporters Wednesday evening. "It was absolutely incredible. It was like being in a war zone."
McMahon called the deputies at the scene "heroes" for persisting in the face of fire from the cabin, noting, "The rounds kept coming but the deputies did not give up."
Some local television stations broadcast police scanner traffic of the firefight, punctuated by the sound of automatic gunfire.
"It was horrifying to listen to that firefight and to hear those words," said LAPD spokesman Lt. Andrew Neiman. "'Officer down' is the most gut-wrenching experience that you can have as a police officer."
Over the course of the next five hours, heavily armed SWAT teams with tank-like vehicles surrounded the cabin, even firing tear gas inside, but never entered the building.
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.
Dorner is accused of killing four people, including the deputy shot on Tuesday. Last Thursday, he allegedly gunned down Riverside police officer Michael Crain, who was laid to rest today.
Crain's shooting and the discovery of an online manifesto pledging to kill dozens of cops launched the dragnet.
Dorner is also suspected of killing Monica Quan and her fiance, who were found shot to death Feb. 3. Quan was the daughter of former LAPD Capt. Randal Quan, who was mentioned as a target of Dorner's fury in the manifesto.
In the 6,000-word "manifesto," Dorner outlined his anger at the Los Angeles Police Department for firing him, and made threats against individuals he believed were responsible for ending his career with the police force five years ago. Dorner's grievance with police goes back five years, to when he was fired after filing what the LAPD determined to be a false report accusing other cops of brutality.
The LAPD assigned 50 protection details to guard officers and their families who were deemed possible targets. The LAPD said today it would maintain the details until Dorner's body was positively identified.
ABC News' Lawrence Dechant contributed to this report.