Christopher Dorner shootout: Cabin on fire, search for suspect
San Bernardino County Sheriff Department officials said officials are trying to determine Dorner's whereabouts. It's unclear whether police have been able to get into the cabin.
Law enforcement sources said "a tactical operation" was underway at the cabin but did not provide additional details. A spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Department said gunfire was heard just before the fire began.
A tall plume of smoke was rising from the area where the standoff occurred. Hundreds of law enforcement personnel swooped down on the site near Big Bear after the gun battles between Dorner and officers that broke out in the snow-covered mountains where the fugitive had been eluding a massive manhunt since his truck was found burning in the area late last week.
Law enforcement personnel in military-style gear and armed with high-powered weapons were involved in a tense standoff after Dorner took refuge in the cabin Tuesday afternoon.
One San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy died of his wounds after he and another deputy were wounded in an exchange of gunfire outside the cabin in which hundreds of rounds were fired, sources told The Times. The deputy was airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where he died of his wounds.
The afternoon gun battle was part of a quickly changing situation that began after Dorner allegedly broke into a home, tied up a couple and held them hostage before fleeing with their white pickup truck, authorities said.
Then Dorner was allegedly spotted by a state Fish and Wildlife officer in the pickup truck, sources said. A vehicle-to-vehicle shootout ensued. The officer's vehicle was peppered with multiple rounds, according to authorities.
Dorner crashed his vehicle and took refuge in a nearby cabin, sources said. One deputy was hit as Dorner fired out of the cabin and a second deputy was injured when Dorner exited the back of the cabin, deployed a smoke bomb and opened fire again in an apparent attempt to flee. Dorner was driven back inside the cabin, the sources said.
During the unprecedented manhunt, officers had crisscrossed California for days pursuing the more than 1,000 tips that poured in about Dorner's possible whereabouts -- including efforts in Tijuana, San Diego County and Big Bear -- and serving warrants at homes in Las Vegas and the Point Loma area of San Diego.
Statewide alerts were issued in California and Nevada, and border authorities were alerted. The Transportation Security Administration also had issued an alert urging pilots and other aircraft operators to keep an eye out for Dorner.
The search turned to Big Bear last week after Dorner's burning truck was found on a local forest road.
At the search's height, more than 200 officers scoured the mountain, conducting cabin-by-cabin checks. It was scaled back Sunday -- about 30 officers were out in the field Tuesday, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said.
Dorner allegedly threatened "unconventional and asymmetrical warfare" against police in a lengthy manifesto that authorities say he posted on Facebook. The posting named dozens of potential targets, including police officers, whom Dorner allegedly threatened to attack, according to authorities.
Records state that the manifesto was discovered by authorities last Wednesday, three days after the slaying of an Irvine couple: Monica Quan, a Cal State Fullerton assistant basketball coach, and her fiance, Keith Lawrence, a USC public safety officer.
Quan was the daughter of a retired LAPD captain whom Dorner allegedly blamed in part for his firing from the force in 2009.
-- Phil Willon, Joel Rubin, Andrew Blankstein, Robert J. Lopez, Matt Stevens and Kate Mather