Inland Empire News

Chris Dorner manhunt: Charred body found in rubble, officials say

Tuesday, February 12, 2013
A San Bernardino County sheriffs spokesman gives an update on deputies wounded in a shootout in the Big Bear area on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. Barbara McLean speaks to Eyewitness News in the Big Bear area on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. Rick Heltebrake, a carjacking victim,  is seen in this undated photo. A San Bernardino County sheriffs vehicle is parked in the Big Bear area on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013.

A charred human body was found in the rubble of the burned-out cabin where fugitive Chris Dorner was thought to be barricaded, a sheriff's spokeswoman said late Tuesday.

If the body is that of Dorner, the intense and widespread manhunt for the ex-Los Angeles police officer suspected of going on a killing spree will have come to an end.

"Investigators have located charred human remains within the debris of the burned out cabin," a San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner Department press release said. "Identification will be attempted through forensic means."

The late development followed earlier announcements by the Los Angeles Police Department and San Bernardino sheriff's that a body had not been recovered from the cabin, which countered earlier reports.

The dramatic ending began around 12:20 p.m. after a victim called 911 saying a man believed to be Dorner had held them hostage and stolen their car. The suspect had tied up two housekeepers who were working on a cabin. One was able to get away and make the call. Police say the women did not require medical attention and were not hospitalized.

Officials say fish and wildlife wardens spotted the suspect's vehicle and tried to give chase. As the suspect fled, he crashed that vehicle and then carjacked a pickup truck. That's when wardens spotted him again as they passed him on the road. This time, the suspect opened fire.

"He was shooting as he was driving. The suspect rolled his window down and when the second patrol truck came up with the two wardens inside, that's when he engaged in a shooting with our wardens as they were driving. He did hit the truck multiple times," said Lt. Patrick Foy with the California Fish and Wildlife Department.

The wardens narrowly escaped injury. One warden then took aim on the suspect.

"He fired multiple rounds at the suspect as he was driving away. It's unknown whether he was hit or how many times the truck was hit," said Foy.

Moments later, the suspect abandoned the vehicle on Highway 38 at Glass Road and ran into the forest into a cabin. As San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies moved in, the suspect opened fire, hitting two of them, killing one. The second deputy was in surgery and was expected to survive, an official said.

Flames suddenly erupted as the suspect was barricaded inside the cabin. It was unclear how the blaze began. Once the fire started, a single gunshot was heard from inside the cabin, followed by more sounds of gunfire, which authorities said could have been ammunition exploding.

Chris Dorner manhunt: See a timeline of key events

Numerous law enforcement officers were at the scene. All vehicles on highways 38, 330 and 18 were searched in connection to the Dorner manhunt, but the roads have since reopened with the exception of Highway 38, which is open only to residents.

The area is in the Big Bear region where a search for Dorner has been under way since his pickup truck was found there Thursday. Authorities earlier said the search in Big Bear would continue until Dorner is caught, or it has been determined that he is no longer on the mountain. Big Bear Lake-area residents with surveillance cameras on their property were asked to check if they captured footage of the suspect.

Ex-LAPD Officer Chris Dorner manifesto: Read it now

A federal law enforcement source confirmed to ABC News that surveillance video of a man buying scuba gear at a Sport Chalet in Torrance on Feb. 1 was Dorner. The video was obtained by TMZ on Monday. Investigators are also looking into reports that Dorner checked into a Manhattan Beach hotel and wrote his manifesto there.

The LAPD said at a news conference Tuesday morning that it was looking into more than 1,000 tips from the public. Authorities raided a hotel in Tijuana, Mexico, on Monday night, hoping to capture Dorner, but he was not found.

"We had information early on that he had indications of going to Mexico, and so preparations were made to follow up on those leads," said LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman.

See a map detailing the chain of events in the Chris Dorner case

In an affidavit, the U.S. Marshals Service said not only does it believe Dorner might have fled, but he may have had help. Security was extremely tight at the border, causing huge traffic backups. There have been no confirmed sightings of Dorner crossing the border or of him inside Mexico. The affidavit mentioned a possible associate of Dorner's whose family member had property in Arrowbear Lake.

As the search for Dorner expands, the reward for information leading to an arrest is growing. Last weekend, the Los Angeles Police Department made history by announcing its biggest reward ever -- $1 million for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the former LAPD officer and Navy serviceman. On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a motion to add $100,000 to the reward. The County Board of Supervisors and the Riverside City Council are also considering an additional $100,000 each, and the Riverside County supervisors are also hoping to add another $100,000, which would bring the total to an unprecedented $1.4 million. That's the largest bounty in Southern California's history.

Though Dorner, 33, hasn't set foot in front of a judge, he has been officially charged with murder. The Riverside County District Attorney's Office filed criminal charges against the fugitive for the murder of Riverside Officer Michael Crain and three counts of attempted murder of another Riverside officer and two LAPD officers.

The separate shootings on the Riverside officers and LAPD officers happened early Thursday after Dorner became the target of a manhunt. Dorner was identified as the prime suspect in the killings of Monica Quan, a former LAPD captain's daughter, and her fiancé, Keith Lawrence, in Irvine the previous weekend.

Dorner is believed to have posted an online manifesto last week declaring war against the LAPD for wrongly firing him. His rant posted on Facebook identified his targets in his revenge plan. The LAPD has since gone to extreme measures to protect the dozens of families and law enforcement officers mentioned in the suspect's lengthy manifesto.

Anyone with tips on Dorner is asked to contact the LAPD at (213) 486-6860 or (800) 222-8477. Tips can also ben sent via email to dornertf@lapd.lacity.org.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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chris dorner, shooting, san bernardino county, murder, inland empire news
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