UPDATE: An official briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press on Wednesday that a wallet with a California driver’s license with the name Christopher Dorner has been found in the rubble of a cabin.
A charred body was also found inside that cabin after a shootout and fire Tuesday. Authorities believe the remains are those of former Los Angeles police officer Dorner, but the remains have not been formally identified. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation and says the charred body and personal items were found in the basement of the burned cabin. The area is in the San Bernardino Mountains.
Despite no official confirmation of Dorner’s death, tensions in Southern California police agencies appeared to relax. Some of the police protection that was put in place after Dorner apparently promised to target individuals in the LAPD named in an online manifesto was lifted, said Lt. Andy Neiman of the LAPD.
But dozens of those police units will remain in place. “There are families that are traumatized,” he said.
Various Southern California city attorneys will be examining the details of how or if the reward money offered in the case would be distributed.
Neiman said the reward money is for information that leads to an arrest or conviction of the suspect.
“This is sort of an unusual circumstance,” Nieman said.
Meanwhile, Highways 18 and 330 into the San Bernardino Mountains are reopening. Highway 38 remains closed between Valley of the Falls and Lake Williams, according to Terri Kasinga of Caltrans.
EARLIER: A standoff between law enforcement officials and a former police officer suspected in three killings erupted in gunfire Tuesday afternoon, with one officer killed, another injured and a remote cabin the fugitive was believed to be holed up in burned to the ground.
San Bernardino Sheriff’s officials late Tuesday confirmed that charred human remains were found in the debris of the burned out cabin. Authorities have stopped short of officially confirming that the remains belong to fugitive Christopher Jordan Dorner, however, saying identification will require “forensic means.”
“We still believe he was inside the cabin when it caught fire,” said Cindy Bachman, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
If authorities determine the man is indeed Dorner, Tuesday’s shooting would mark the fourth killing he is believed to have carried out.
Los Angeles Police Department Cmdr. Andrew Smith just after 8 p.m. said authorities had not been able to enter the wreckage of the cabin. Smith flatly denied reports of a body in the cabin being identified as Dorner’s.
The cabin was smoldering and too hot to enter, with live ammunition believed to be inside, Bachman said around 8:30 p.m.
“It’s a huge crime scene,” Bachman said. “I anticipate (the investigators) being here most of the night.”
A man matching the description of Dorner, 33, a former LAPD officer and Navy reservist who became the target of an intense manhunt after the shooting deaths of an Irvine couple and a Riverside police officer, was seen Tuesday afternoon by authorities investigating reports of a stolen vehicle about 12:20 p.m.
A California Fish and Wildlife warden driving on Highway 38 about 12:45 saw the vehicle, a purple Nissan, going in the opposite direction, Fish and Wildlife Lt. Patrick Foy said.
Authorities have not confirmed reports that Dorner tied up a pair of housekeepers in a Big Bear residence during a home invasion robbery near where the Nissan was stolen.
The warden attempted to make a u-turn to follow the Nissan, but his viewpoint was blocked by two school buses and he didn’t see the vehicle turn onto Glass Road, Foy said. Several other wardens responded to help search for the Nissan on Glass Road.
Authorities believe that Dorner crashed the Nissan, then carjacked a white pickup. A warden saw him driving the second vehicle, at which point authorities say Dorner rolled down the window of the vehicle and fired at another warden with a handgun, striking the warden’s vehicle multiple times.
“He was shooting as he was driving,” Foy said.
One warden stopped and returned fire, Foy said. It wasn’t clear if Dorner or the vehicle was struck by the more than 15 rounds fired by the warden.
Authorities believe Dorner abandoned the second vehicle and fled on foot, barricading himself into a cabin.
A subsequent gunbattle between the man and police left two law enforcement officers injured.
The officers were airlifted to a hospital.
Authorities say one of the officers died, while the other officer was in surgery and is expected to survive.
Law enforcement officials surrounded the cabin, as several prolonged volleys of gunfire could be heard.
The cabin was engulfed in flames about 4:20 p.m., according to radio chatter, followed by unconfirmed reports of a single gunshot heard inside the structure.
Law enforcement officials are waiting for the fire to die down before searching the remains of the cabin.
The fire at the cabin was started by gasoline, Bachman said, but it wasn’t immediately known who ignited the blaze.
Irvine Police Chief David Maggard urged people to keep their focus on the victims.
“This has been a long and difficult nine days for the law enforcement community,” Maggard said in a statement. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of the deputy who lost his life and to our law enforcement family at the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.”
In comments made at LAPD headquarters Tuesday evening, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa offered his thoughts and support to the officers struck by gunfire in San Bernardino.
“Our prayers are with their families and the people of San Bernardino,” Villaraigosa said.
VENDETTA AGAINST LAW ENFORCEMENT
The standoff at the cabin comes six days into an intense manhunt across Southern California for Dorner, who is believed to be targeting law enforcement officers and their families as part of a vendetta against his former LAPD colleagues.
Irvine police on Thursday identified Dorner, 33, as their prime suspect in the slayings of Monica Quan and Keith Lawrence, a newly engaged couple who were found shot to death in a parking garage at an Irvine apartment complex Feb. 3.
Authorities believe that Dorner targeted Quan to retaliate against her father, a retired LAPD captain who represented Dorner during the board of review hearing that led to his dismissal from the department.
In the hours after he was identified as a suspect in the Irvine double-murder, Dorner is believed to have shot at three officers. One of the officers, Michael Crain, 34, was killed, while the other two were injured.
Dorner in an online manifesto declared “asymmetrical warfare” against the LAPD, claiming that he was fired for false pretenses by a department he accused of corruption and prejudice. LAPD officials in recent days have decided reopen the investigation into Dorner’s firing, a decision they say was not meant to “appease” Dorner, but to foster transparency.
The Riverside District Attorney’s Office on Monday became the first agency to file criminal charges against Dorner, including murder and attempted murder.
A MASSIVE MANHUNT
In the aftermath of the Riverside officer’s death, authorities began a massive dragnet across Southern California, which Dorner managed to evade for six days.
The manhunt initially focused on Big Bear Lake, where Dorner’s abandoned, burnt-up truck was found on Thursday morning. More than 100 officers braved the cold temperatures and falling snow in the remote mountainous terrain during a days’ long search for Dorner.
The trail had appeared to go cold in recent days, however, with the number of officers searching Big Bear being scaled back significantly.
With authorities offering $1 million for Dorner’s capture and conviction, the largest such reward in LAPD history, hundreds of tips were reported to a joint task force searching for the fugitive.
False sightings were reported across Southern California, from San Diego to Anaheim to Northridge. But until Tuesday afternoon there had been no trace of Dorner since early Thursday.
Early Tuesday the search for Dorner had appeared to lead south of the border, with reports of Mexican authorities searching a Tijuana hotel after receiving a tip that he was there. That tip also turned out to be false.
According to a federal arrest warrant, a man matching Dorner’s description tried to steal a boat in San Diego about 3 a.m. Thursday. Dorner’s wallet and identification cards were found near the U.S.-Mexico boarder at the San Ysidro point of entry.
The warrant indicated that U.S. Marshals suspected that Dorner could have fled to Mexico.
With Dorner targeting police officers and their families, and with his background of law enforcement and Navy training, the manhunt left agencies across Southern California on edge.
Agencies adjusted their deployment of officers, assigning two officers per patrol vehicle, pulling out motorcycle details and suspending parking-enforcement officers as a precaution.
Police officials targeted in Dorner’s manifesto, as well as their families, were assigned protective details. LAPD officials on Tuesday night indicated that the protective details will continue until they confirm that Dorner is either dead or in custody.
The manhunt also resulted in police opening fire on two occasions on trucks driving in an area where a protected LAPD official lives. On Thursday, two women were shot in one of the trucks but are expected to recover. The same day, the driver in another truck was not struck by gunfire but reported he was injured when a patrol car rammed his vehicle.
The federal search warrant revealed authorities that have been keeping track of some of Dorner’s associates, including a person referred to only as “J.Y.”
The search warrant – filed the day Dorner is suspected of shooting at two patrol cars in Riverside County, killing one officer and injuring two others – does not state that “J.Y.” has assisted Dorner in any way. It states “J.Y.’s” family owns property in Arrowbear, near where Dorner’s truck was found burning in a wooded area. It also states U.S. marshals kept track of “J.Y.”, who was found that same day in Costa Mesa.
Speaking to reporters outside LAPD headquarters Tuesday, Nieman said he would not comment on associates of Dorner’s connected to the manhunt or if Dorner had attempted to reach out to anyone since Thursday.
“This investigation has to stick with what we know,” he said.
If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced Orange County Bail Bondsman to assist you in any bail situation.