Sources: Charred Remains Found In Cabin Are Likely Christopher Dorner

By: CNN/CBS News, Posted by Melissa Brunner
By: CNN/CBS News, Posted by Melissa Brunner

BIG BEAR, Calif. (CNN/CBS News) The manhunt for a former Los Angeles police officer suspected of going on a killing spree converged may have ended Tuesday at a mountain cabin where authorities believe he barricaded himself inside, engaged in a shootout that killed a deputy, and then never emerged as the home went up in flames.

Investigators found charred human remains in the burned out cabin's debris, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office, which said forensic techniques would be used to try to identify the body.

Law enforcement sources tell CBS News senior correspondent John Miller that they are confident that a body in a burned cabin in Big Bear, California is believed to be that of Christopher Dorner, the fired former LAPD officer who is suspected of earlier killing three people, and was also the subject of an intense manhunt.

According to those sources, their confidence was based on the facts that the man who stole the truck fit Dormer's description -- that the same individual was chased to the house, that he tossed a green smoke grenade at the officers from inside the house, and used a fifty caliber weapon to fire on them. Based on the fact that the house was surrounded and no one was seen fleeing, the totality of the facts police agencies were advised that they believed there was a body inside and that it was Dorner's.

However, despite earlier media reports, LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith announced at a Tuesday evening press conference that the cabin was too hot for anybody to make entry, and that there has been no body located inside the cabin. The spokesman added that the cabin has yet been searched because the fire is still too hot for anyone to go in there.

The spokesman said the LAPD will continue to protect the LAPD officers that Dorner – accused of targeting police officers because he the LAPD fired him in 2008 – allegedly identified as potential threats in a letter made public last week.

Earlier, sources told CBS News, CNN and other media outlets that Dorner, who was suspected of killing four people, and was the subject of an intense manhunt, had died after being barricaded in a cabin that was later engulfed in flames.

The cabin in which Dorner was believed to be holed up in San Bernardino County, east of L.A, is in flames, CBS Station KCAL Los Angeles had reported. It followed after an earlier shootout Tuesday afternoon between the suspect and authorities that left one deputy killed and another wounded.

A law enforcement official, who wished to remain anonymous because the investigation is ongoing, told The Associated Press that the person believed to be the suspect never came out of the burning cabin.

CBS News correspondent Carter Evans, reported that tear gas was fired into the house, which was surrounded by authorities, before the fire broke out.

Dorner attracted a dragnet and a $1 million bounty on his head after three murders. Officials say he was targeting cops and their families in a rampage of revenge for his firing.

As KCAL reported, Dorner reportedly broke into a couple's home and tied them up -- possibly days ago -- before stealing their vehicle and fleeing the scene Tuesday afternoon. He was spotted by authorities around 1:30 p.m. and repeated gunshots were exchanged on Glass Road.

One of those gun battles was recorded by Evans, who was at the scene. A transcript of that audio as Evans reported follows:

"I hear some screaming. You heard all that gunfire. I see a team of sheriffs deputies in full-on fatigues running towards us right now. We are down on the ground behind the fields of our car right now with the doors open. I'm talking to you on speakerphone. We are right, right in the center of the action here. We are right where this is happening."

Evans later told "CBS Evening News" anchor Scott Pelley that the SWAT team had the cabin surrounded where Dorner is located at the moment and has been moving into position for the last hour or so. "We haven't heard a volley of gunfire like you heard there in the last hour or so," said Evans. "What we have heard are police officers firing tear gas into that building. They've also been laying down suppressive fire to keep Dorner from firing back at them while they've been moving officers into position."

Evans also reported that there are two police helicopters circling overhead, keeping an eye on things from the sky. On the ground, things seemed to have calmed down a bit as authorities seem to have moved into place.

As for whether there is anybody else with Dorner inside the cabin or if there are hostages, Evans said that is nothing at the moment to indicate that. "We have heard reports that may at one point have been someone inside that cabin with him but I've not been able to confirm that with the authorities. at least authorities standing around me right now think Christopher Dorner is the only one in that cabin."

According to KCAL, reporters in the vicinity were asked by the San Bernardino District Attorney's Office to abstain from tweeting about the developing situation.

Police say Dorner's rampage began a week and a half ago when a couple was murdered in Irvine, California. One of the victims was the daughter of a retired police captain who had defended Dorner in a disciplinary hearing that led to his firing by the LAPD police spotted Dorner early last Thursday but he escaped after allegedly shooting two Los Angeles cops.

He's also accused of ambushing two riverside policemen, killing one of them.

Investigators found Dorner's truck in the mountains northeast of L.A.

CBS News senior correspondent John Miller, who once headed up the major crimes division of the L.A.P.D. reported that there was some kind of confrontation Tuesday that involved a truck that, based on video, was kind of almost rammed into a snow bank and buried in the snow. that confrontation then spilled over with de deputies.

"It appears that Dorner may have been in that house for some time," said Miller. "Ironically, strangely or surprisingly, that house is located almost just across the street from the police command post where they've been running the search operation for a number of days, and not far from where his burned-out pickup truck was found."

According to Miller, the weapon Dorner is using is a sniper rifle -- a 50 caliber Barrett, an extraordinarily high-powered rifle, the kind used by the military. The SWAT resources on the scene from San Bernardino County have the house surrounded. Other armored vehicles and SWAT personnel are on the way from the city to assist if San Bernardino needs them.

Dorner was fired from the LAPD five years ago, when a department board determined that he falsely claimed another officer had kicked a suspect.

Asked about recent decision to reopen the case into Dorner's past with the LAPD, CBS News senior correspondent John Miller, former head of the Major Crimes Division of the LAPD, had earlier said on "CBS This Morning" the police may be testing Dorner.

"Dorner's manifesto says, 'I need to get my reputation back, and I didn't lie, and I shouldn't have been fired. But if I get justice, the killing stops,'" Miller said Tuesday. "I think if the department takes a step of, 'We'll take a second look at the case, if he is a man of his word, then the killing has to stop.' "

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Updated 8:18 PM ET

BIG BEAR, CALIF. A man police believe to be the fugitive ex-Los Angeles officer wanted in three killings was barricaded inside a burning cabin Tuesday after a shootout in a California mountain town that left one deputy dead and another wounded.

The developments raised the possibility that the nearly week-old hunt for America's most wanted man might be coming to an end.

The cabin was on fire and smoke was coming from the structure in the late afternoon after police surrounded it in the snow-covered woods of Big Bear, a resort town about 80 miles east of Los Angeles.

Authorities have focused their hunt for Christopher Dorner there since they said he launched a campaign to exact revenge against the Los Angeles Police Department for his firing.

Authorities say Dorner threatened to bring "warfare" to LAPD officers and their families, spreading fear and setting off a search for him across three states and Mexico.

"Enough is enough. It's time for you to turn yourself in. It's time to stop the bloodshed," LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said earlier in the day at a news conference held outside police headquarters in Los Angeles, a starkly different atmosphere than last week when officials briefed the news media under tight security with Dorner on the loose.

If the man inside the cabin does prove to be Dorner, it will both lower tensions among the more than 40 targets police say he listed in an online rant.

It would also raise them for law enforcement officers who are engaged in a standoff with a former Navy reservist who has warned that he knows their tactics as well as they do.

Until Tuesday, authorities didn't know whether he was still near Big Bear, where they found his burned-out pickup last week.

Around 12:20 p.m. Tuesday, deputies got a report of a stolen vehicle, authorities said. The location was directly across the street from where law enforcement set up their command post on Thursday and not far from where Dorner's burned-out pickup was abandoned.

The people whose vehicle was stolen described the suspect as looking similar to Dorner. When authorities found the vehicle, the suspect ran into the forest and barricaded himself inside a cabin.

U.S. Forest Service spokesman John Miller said the first exchange of gunfire involved state Fish and Wildlife wardens at 12:42 p.m., and then there was a second exchange with San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies, two of whom were shot.

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 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 6-foot, 270-pounder described as armed and "extremely dangerous," police say, Dorner unsuccessfully tried to steal a boat in San Diego to flee to Mexico and then ambushed police in Riverside County, shooting three and killing one.

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

Police found charred weapons and camping gear inside the 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 he would reopen 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.

Asked about recent decision to reopen the case into Dorner's past with the LAPD, CBS News senior correspondent John Miller, former head of the Major Crimes Division of the LAPD, said the police may be testing Dorner.

"Dorner's manifesto says, 'I need to get my reputation back, and I didn't lie, and I shouldn't have been fired. But if I get justice, the killing stops,'" Miller said on "CBS This Morning" Tuesday. "I think if the department takes a step of, 'We'll take a second look at the case, if he is a man of his word, then the killing has to stop.'"

One of the targets listed in the manifesto was former LAPD Capt. 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 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.


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