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Dorner manhunt: 'A bittersweet night,' Chief Beck says

February 12, 2013 |  8:04 pm

As he traveled to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where a wounded San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy was undergoing surgery, a somber Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said: “It is a bittersweet night. This could have ended much better, it could have ended worse. I feel for the family of the deputy who lost his life.”

The deputy who died was allegedly shot by Christopher Dorner, the subject of an intense manhunt in the Southland for more than a week.

Beck cautioned that, while it appeared the saga had reached its final chapter, authorities wouldn’t call the hunt for Dorner over until a body was recovered and identified as his. To underscore this point, Beck said he had ordered the security details guarding more than 50 LAPD officers thought to be targets of Dorner to remain in place Tuesday night.

PHOTOS: Manhunt for ex-LAPD officer

Beck said he had been in communication with authorities at the cabin where Dorner was believed to have been hiding and confirmed that officers heard a single shot fired as they used heavy machinery to tear down the cabin's walls. Afterward, no shots were heard, leading authorities to speculate that Dorner had killed himself as officers closed in, Beck said.

Beck did not know what caused the cabin to catch fire.

“People on the scene are as confident as they can be without seeing the body that it is Dorner inside,” Beck said.

INTERACTIVE MAP: Searching for suspected shooter

Earlier Tuesday, a tall plume of smoke was rising as flames consumed the wood-paneled cabin. Hundreds of law enforcement personnel had 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 took up positions in the heavily forested area as the tense standoff progressed. 

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.

ALSO:

Christopher Dorner shootout: Body found in burned cabin

Christopher Dorner: Police demolish cabin, hear single gunshot

Christopher Dorner: LAPD on edge, awaits word on suspect's fate

-- Joel Rubin

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