February 12th, 2013
11:45 PM ET

Police: Body found in cabin in hunt for Dorner

  • Person believed to be renegade ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner killed deputy, wounded another in shootout at California cabin Tuesday, authorities say
  • Hours later, SWAT team stormed cabin, which caught fire; sheriff's department says suspect believed dead
  • Police: Encounter came after suspect, in stolen vehicle, exchanged gunfire with warden, and then fled to cabin in San Bernardino National Forest
  • Dorner was subject of seven-day manhunt, suspected in three other deaths
  • We'll have updates below as we get them; full story here; also see KCAL/KCBS, KABC, KTLA.

[Updated at 3:43 a.m. ET Wednesday] The San Bernardino Sheriff's Office said early Wednesday morning that investigators have located charred human remains in the debris of the burned-out cabin where law-enforcement officers exchanged gunfire with a suspect believed to be Dorner.

The sheriff's office said the body has not been identified, and that identification will be attempted through forensic means.

[Updated at 12:33 a.m. ET Wednesday] New details about the suspect's encounter and shootout with game wardens before the shootout with sheriff's deputies at the cabin: Game wardens saw the suspect in two vehicles Tuesday.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Lt. Patrick Foy says two game wardens first chased the suspect as he was driving a purple Nissan in the San Bernardino National Forest. The wardens, in a patrol truck, had been told to look out for the Nissan, and they saw it driving in the opposite direction behind two buses.

Foy says the wardens did a U-turn and tried to follow the Nissan, but they lost him. Authorities now believe the suspect passed the buses and turned onto a different road, called Glass Road.

Later, three different wardens in two vehicles were driving on Glass Road and saw a white pickup truck traveling erratically toward them. One of the wardens believed he saw Dorner driving the truck.

The truck's driver fired a gun at one of the wardens' vehicles, Foy said. A warden got out and returned fire as the suspect drove away.

Foy said no warden was injured. He said he didn't know whether the suspect was shot.

Authorities say they believe the suspect ditched the second vehicle and entered a cabin, where he eventually exchanged gunfire Tuesday afternoon with San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies, killing one and wounding another.

Hours later, according to police, a SWAT team stormed the cabin, which caught fire after police detonated smoke devices inside the structure, a law enforcement source told CNN.

The San Bernadino County Sheriff's Department says it believes a body is in the cabin, but investigators have yet to examine the cabin because it was still smoldering.

[Updated at 11:45 p.m. ET] The San Bernardino Sheriff's Department is echoing the LAPD's refutation of reports that Dorner's body was found in the burned cabin, but it acknowledges investigators believe a body is there.

"We believe (the suspect) is still inside the cabin that caught fire," SBSD spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said.

Later, she said, "(Investigators) believe a body is in there," but that investigators still haven't been inside the cabin to look for one.

"It is too hot. (It's) still smoldering" and not safe to enter, Bachman said, adding that officials believe there still is live ammunition in the smoldering cabin.

"We believe that the person that barricaded himself inside the cabin and engaged in gunfire with our deputies ... is still inside there even though the building burned," she said.

[Updated at 11:13 p.m. ET] Los Angeles police are now contradicting media reports that a body was found in the cabin.

No such thing was found in the cabin, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman told reporters moments ago, because cabin is still burning and is too hot to search.

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.

[Updated at 10:40 p.m. ET] We're awaiting a news conference from authorities regarding today's events. Could happen quite soon.

[Updated at 10:02 p.m. ET] A body believed to be that of Christopher Dorner has been pulled from the burning cabin, multiple law enforcement sources tell CNN contributor Tom Fuentes. The sources say they were told this by LAPD.

Law enforcement personnel will conduct a forensic exam to identify the body, the sources say.

[Updated at 9:53 p.m. ET] Some details on the surviving deputy who was wounded in today's shootout at the cabin: That deputy still is in surgery and is expected to live, San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Jodi Miller says.

That deputy was one of two deputies who were wounded in a shootout at the cabin in Califorina's San Bernardino National Forest on Tuesday afternoon. The other deputy was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital, authorities said.

The names of the deputies have not been released.

[Updated at 9:40 p.m. ET] The Los Angeles Police Department has scheduled a media briefing at midnight ET.

We're still waiting for details about the fire at the cabin, which began more than two hours ago.

[Updated at 9:14 p.m. ET] Earlier, we reported that U.S. Marshals Service district chief Kurt Ellingson told us a suspect tried to get out the back door of the cabin at some point today and was pushed back inside. But there are now conflicting reports about whether the suspect ever emerged.

Ellingson says authorities are not sure whether the suspect came out.

[Updated at 8:52 p.m. ET] Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa tells reporters that "on behalf of the people of Los Angeles, our hearts and prayers are with the San Bernardino deputy who was shot and killed today."

"Our prayers are with the family, with the people of San Bernardino, with the police and the sheriff’s department of that county. I want to thank them for their bravery.”

The suspect, Dorner, was a Los Angeles police officer from 2005 to 2008.

[Updated at 8:44 p.m. ET] Personnel are clearing a road so that firefighters can extinguish the flames at the cabin, authorities familiar with the operation.

[Updated at 8:34 p.m. ET] At some point today, a suspect tried to get out the back door of the cabin, but he was pushed back inside, U.S. Marshals Service district chief Kurt Ellingson told CNN's Brian Todd.

We're still waiting for details about the fire at the cabin, which began about an hour ago.

[Updated at 8:19 p.m. ET] Kyle Martin, son of the cabin's owner, says six cabins are on the 10-acre property. Martin says he believes the suspect barricaded himself in the main cabin, behind which the five smaller cabins exist.

[Updated at 8:09 p.m. ET] Kyle Martin, son of the cabin's owner, told CNN that he believes no one was staying at the cabin Tuesday before the suspect entered it.

[Updated at 8:07 p.m. ET] More details on the authorities' recent assault on the cabin, which is on fire: It's not clear whether the suspect is still in the cabin, but the area is surrounded by law enforcement personnel, San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said.

No one is allowed to go near the fire, including fire department personnel, she said.

"There was active gunfire before the fire" between the suspect and law enforcement, she said. Bachman said she was not aware of any communications with the suspect.

[Updated at 7:57 p.m. ET] The cabin is indeed on fire, but authorities aren't sure whether Dorner is inside, a San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman said.

Authorities also aren't certain that Dorner was the person they chased to the cabin and fatally shot a sheriff's deputy, but that the suspect has been described as looking like Dorner and "we have reason to believe that it is him," she said.

She added that she's not aware of any hostages at the cabin.

[Updated at 7:46 p.m. ET] Back to the casualties in this afternoon's shootout: After confirming that one of two wounded deputies had died, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said the second deputy was in surgery, "but he should be fine."

That shootout was a few hours ago; we're still awaiting details of what law enforcement sources say was a separate police assault on the cabin that began about 30 minutes ago. The cabin still is on fire.

[Updated at 7:43 p.m. ET] While we're awaiting information about what law enforcement sources say was a police assault on the cabin, here's some details about the vehicle that the suspect allegedly stole:

A friend of the vehicle's owner tells CNN that a man, who police believe was Dorner, emerged from the woods in the Big Bear Lake area Tuesday and pointed a gun at the owner, who was in the vehicle with his dog.

The gunman ordered the owner and the dog out of the vehicle, and then drove off with it, the friend said, citing the owner.

The carjacking was then reported to police, leading to this afternoon's events. A recap: Police say they found the suspect driving the stolen vehicle about 5 miles to the southeast (actually a 27-mile drive around Sugarloaf Mountain), and the suspect ran into the woods and entered a cabin, where a shootout involving the suspect killed one officer and wounded another.

[Updated at 7:33 p.m. ET] More details on authorities' current assault on the cabin: Fire, as well as smoke from devices that the officers detonated, have engulfed the structure, according to authorities familiar with the operation. Ammunition is exploding inside, the sources said.

[Updated at 7:30 p.m. ET] One of two sheriff's deputies shot Tuesday by a man suspected to be Dorner has died, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon told reporters at California's Loma Linda University Medical Center.

[Updated at 7:26 p.m. ET] The cabin appears to be on fire. Authorities began an assault on the structure minutes ago.

Authorities have penetrated the structure and were bringing equipment to tear openings into the cabin, a source familiar with the operation said.

[Updated at 7:22 p.m. ET] Black smoke is rising high in the air from the cabin area, video from CNN affiliate KABC shows. The video appeared to be taken from a distance; authorities had asked news helicopters to keep well away.

[Updated at 7:20 p.m. ET] Authorities have launched tear gas at the cabin, and a tactical operation is under way, Former FBI Assistant Director Tom Fuentes tells CNN.

[Updated at 7:18 p.m. ET] A California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman says he believes one of his agency's game wardens was the first law enforcement official to confront the suspect in the stolen vehicle, and exchanged gunfire with him.

The game warden was on patrol and saw the vehicle approaching in the Big Bear area, the spokesman said. The warden got out of his vehicle and fired at the suspect, the spokesman said. It's not clear from the spokesman's interview that the suspect left his vehicle at that point.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department says the suspect left the stolen vehicle Tuesday afternoon as authorities confronted him, ran into a forest and eventually entered a cabin, where a shootout happened.

[Updated at 7:08 p.m. ET] A little more on the geography: The area where the suspect got out of the vehicle and fled into the San Bernardino National Forest (and then into a cabin) is about 5 miles southwest, as the bird flies, of the spot where the vehicle was reported stolen near Big Bear Lake. But the most direct series of roads between the two locations is about 27-mile drive around Sugarloaf Mountain.

[Updated at 6:46 p.m. ET] One of the two law enforcement officers hurt in today's shootout has died, CNN affiliates and the Los Angeles Times have reported. The Times cited law enforcement sources.

We're awaiting a news conference at the medical center.

[Updated at 6:42 p.m. ET] We're about to get an update on the two injured sheriff's deputies. A news conference is expected to begin shortly at California's Loma Linda University Medical Center.

[Updated at 6:19 p.m. ET] A reporter with CNN affiliate KCBS captured audio of gunfire during an encounter between police and the suspect. It's unclear which party was shooting during the audio recording, which runs for more than a minute. Here it is:

[Updated at 6:19 p.m. ET] Aerial footage from KCAL and KCBS shows officers stopping and checking the interiors of vehicles on a road in the Big Bear area.

[Updated at 6:15 p.m. ET] LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith tells reporters that authorities aren't 100% sure that the suspect in the cabin is Dorner, but they believe it's him.

"The likelihood is that it is him, but we can't say for sure," Smith said.

Smith called on Dorner to surrender. "Everyone is very hopeful that this thing ends without further bloodshed," he said.

"If he's watching this, the message for (him) is enough is enough," Smith said. "It's time to turn yourself in. It's time to end the bloodshed."

Smith said authorities believe the suspect has access to TV. Smith asked television stations to not show live signals of the cabin area "because it puts our officers at a tactical disadvantage."

Earlier today, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon has asked that news helicopters pull back or leave the area of the barricaded suspect. (See 5:36 p.m. entry.)

[Updated at 6:03 p.m. ET] The two deputies who were injured in this incident have been airlifted to Loma Linda Medical Center, a San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Jodi Miller says. No information on their conditions has been released.

Moments ago, LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith told reporters that the deputies were injured during the gunfire exchange between officers and the suspect at the cabin where the suspect barricaded himself. This squares with what a law enforcement source told CNN earlier.

Smith told reporters that LAPD officers are waiting for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department to give them authorization to assist in today's incident.

[Updated at 6 p.m. ET] We're expecting to hear from the Los Angeles Police Department soon. A news conference is expected to start in a few minutes.

[Updated at 5:36 p.m. ET] San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon has asked that news helicopters pull back or leave the area of the barricaded suspect.

"Gunfire is being exchanged between law enforcement and the suspect; your personnel are in danger and could contribute to officer safety on the ground," the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department said in a statement.

[Updated at 5:22 p.m. ET] Authorities are now saying that a man believed to be Dorner exchanged gunfire with law enforcement officers after he barricaded himself inside a cabin Tuesday afternoon, the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department says.

Here's the sequence of events from the sheriff's department: Officers got a report of a stolen vehicle in the Big Bear area, and deputies responded to the area at 12:22 p.m. PT and began looking for the vehicle on the ground and from the air.

"The vehicle was located at Hwy. 38 and Glass Rd. The suspect fled into the forest and barricaded himself inside a cabin," the sheriff's department said in a statement. "A short time later there was an exchange of gunfire between law enforcement and the suspect. Sheriff's SWAT is on scene."

Two law enforcement officers are being airlifted to a local hospital with "unknown injuries," the sheriff's department said. Earlier, a high-ranking law enforcement source told CNN that two sheriff's deputies were wounded in a shootout.

[Updated at 5:16 p.m. ET] Authorities have ignited a smoke grenade in the Big Bear area of California to mark a location for police helicopters, a high ranking law official with knowledge of the investigation said Tuesday.

[Updated at 5:15 p.m. ET] Former FBI Assistant Director Tom Fuentes explains to CNN what law enforcement personnel usually mean when they say someone is "pinned down":

"The term commonly means he's not running any more, that they've got him trapped in a home or some other physical location ... . That means he's contained; that doesn’t mean he’s in custody ... but it means he’s not running loose."

Earlier, a high-ranking law enforcement source told CNN that authorities believe they have Dorner "pinned down" in California's Big Bear Lake area after a shootout in which two sheriff's deputies were wounded Tuesday.

[Updated at 5:09 p.m. ET] As a precaution, schools in the Big Bear Lake area are on lockdown, Big Bear Lake Mayor Jay Obernolte says.

[Updated at 5:06 p.m. ET] Authorities believe Dorner is "pinned down" in a rural area about 8 miles south of Big Bear Lake, California, the city's mayor told CNN.

Mayor Jay Obernolte says his thoughts and prayers are with the two deputies who police say were wounded in a shootout Tuesday with Dorner.

"If they were injured in the defense of our community, we owe them a huge debt of gratitude," Obernolte said.

[Updated at 12:10 p.m. ET, Wednesday February 13] We are reinstating these two posts from 5:06 p.m. ET and 5:09 p.m. ET that were previously removed because of internal miscommunication. The information and quotes were always accurate and from the mayor. We regret the error.

[Updated at 4:49 p.m. ET] Two sheriff's deputies have been wounded in a shootout with a suspect believed to be renegade ex-Los Angeles police officer Christopher Jordan Dorner, a high-ranking law official with knowledge of the investigation said Tuesday.

The source says the suspect, believed to be Dorner, shot the deputies as police responded to a report of a home invasion and a carjacking in the Big Bear area of southern California.

After police got a description of the vehicle, police set up a road block, and Dorner approached the officers, the source says. Dorner then opened fire, wounding the two sheriff's deputies, according to the source.

The official said Dorner was pinned down.

[Updated at 4:35 p.m. ET] The San Bernardino Sheriff's Department confirms that authorities were chasing a pickup truck, according to CNN's Casey Wian.

The department hasn't confirmed whether Dorner is connected to the chase. It did say that Dorner wasn't in custody, CNN's Chris Welch reported.

[Posted at 4:31 p.m. ET] Law enforcement officers are responding to reports that ex-LAPD officer Christopher Jordan Dorner has been sighted and may have been involved in a robbery in the Big Bear area of southern California, said law enforcement sources involved in the investigation.

Dorner who indicated he was on a campaign of vigilante justice for what he believes was his unfair termination from the LAPD in 2008 has been the subject of a seven-day manhunt as a suspect in three killings.

Dorner is accused of killing one police officer and wounding two others, as well as killing the daughter of his police union representative and her fiancé.

soundoff (1,814 Responses)
  1. Matt

    Yet one more standoff with government officials which ends in a fire.

    February 12, 2013 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeremy

      I think they like that...

      February 12, 2013 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. donklos

    Police press conference just said no body has been found nor identified. People are jumping the gun on that. The head cop says the site is way too hot to enter, so no body found at this time, 8:10 pm PST.

    February 12, 2013 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Weric

    Can we say Waco Texas?

    February 12, 2013 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Callie

    What a sad story! He came back from the Middle East a changed man. How does one receive glowing reports from friends plus colleagues in the military and the only bad description is from the LAPD? The families who lost loved ones. I would like to hear from his mother & sister.

    February 12, 2013 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. KC

    I believe the Officers need more range time to become better shots. Furthermore, why did the LAPD shoot up 2 innocent women? I say an eye for an eye, if the police think they can just shoot up anyone then the police have no right to say they cant be shot at as well.

    February 12, 2013 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. 2pac23

    I will say this...I dont agree with what this man did...But the LAPD is crooket and Caused this. All you racist people are fools, you think the rich people care about you? Yall are nothing but puppets who think yall know so much. But yet while you sit around judging and hating mexicans and blacks the rich elite are busy selling america away. Its not the blacks or mexicans...But yell yall are so distracted with hate yall blame it on blacks and mexicans. Just how they want you. To me this is just whats gonna happen to America if it doesnt change its ways.

    February 12, 2013 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • macdaddy

      crooket?, go back to your trailer.

      February 12, 2013 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Aron

    No body has been found yet, the cabin is way to hot. Where do you guys get your sources from!!!

    February 12, 2013 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Shields

    Why is everyone so certain that he is dead? In my opinion he is not dead until 3 outside parties, outside the state of California, prove without a shadow of doubt genetically that the corpse belongs to a black man and is Dorner- same goes for dental records too.

    This has nothing to do with hero worship, but common sense. These trigger happy morons, the LAPD, shot up 3 people that were neither black or men or 6' tall. And after all the "mistakes" we've seen them make being trigger happy we're supposed to believe that they got him now? For all we know they burned alive someone else while Dorner is elsewhere. And if they did kill someone other than dorner, I hope all you cheering his death will hold the LAPD accountable for that death.

    February 12, 2013 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mentallect

    LAPD set the cabin on fire to silence Dorner forever.

    February 12, 2013 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bobt54

    I am glad they got this guy

    February 12, 2013 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. shawn poland

    gee coopy looks like quite a fool now after announcing a body found. then now no body???? escape routes from the basement??? you liars really need to get your stories straight, and we dont want to hear the bs story of oh you know how early reports are....

    February 12, 2013 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. geladius

    Trial by firing squad. Welcome to America.

    February 12, 2013 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. hellatight

    sssshhhhhhhh....everything is okay....go back to sleep

    February 12, 2013 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Brad Degen

    Watching these events unfold, it still amazes me how you Americans can be lead and mislead so easily by the mainstream media. And then, after all this dies down, you'll let the media divert the focus away from the main issues: 1. The LAPD and its corrupt system within its ranks. 2. The lack of accountability by those in power. 3. The "police state" in California after the first death. If it hasn't been police related would the same amount of time,cash and resources have been spent on apprehending/executing a suspect? 4. The apparent bloodthirsty methods used by the police in regards to trigger happy cops and starting a cabin on fire to get at a suspect. It's times like this I'm glad to be Canadian. And for those who wish to degrade us, remember we have one thing in common with Vietnam: we both kicked your ass!!!

    February 12, 2013 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • tralancey

      Good job, Brad!!! Well said.

      February 12, 2013 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • laura

      So, how can I become a Canadian? My dad was Canadian.

      February 13, 2013 at 1:07 am | Report abuse |
  15. KeepThePeacePeople

    There is noting wrong with smoking out your enemy.

    Dorner the cop killer offed himself instead of coming out and surrendering to the authorities.

    He should have laid down and submitted himself if he had a integrity in his name.

    February 12, 2013 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
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