Dorner manhunt: Maids surprised suspect in cabin, escaped, called cops
The discovery of a man who police believe to be Christopher Dorner began when two maids ran into him Tuesday morning as they arrived to clean a vacant cabin in the Big Bear area near where the fugitive ex-cop’s car was set ablaze last week.
The two maids entered a cabin in the 1200 block of Club View Drive, close to Snow Summit and Bear Mountain Resort, and surprised a man who they said resembled the fugitive, a law enforcement official said. The man tied up the maids, and then took off in a purple Nissan parked near the cabin, authorities said.
One of the maids was eventually able to break free and called 911 at 12:20 p.m., officials said
Nearly half an hour later, officials said, the suspect was driving on California 38 when he passed a marked vehicle driven by officers of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
They recognized the suspect as he passed and swung their vehicle around in pursuit, officials said.
The suspect attempted to evade them by turning off onto Glass Road, and at some point crashed and abandoned the small car.
A short time later, authorities said, the suspect carjacked a light-colored pickup truck. Allan Laframboise said the truck belonged to his friend Rick Heltebrake, who works at a nearby Boy Scout camp.
Heltebrake was driving on Glass Road with his Dalmatian, Suni, when a hulking African American man stepped into the road, Laframboise said. Heltebrake stopped. The man told him to get out of the truck.
"Can I take my dog?" Heltebrake asked, according to his friend.
"You can leave and you can take your dog," the man reportedly said. He then sped off in the Dodge extended-cab pickup — and quickly encountered two Department of Fish and Wildlife trucks.
As the suspect zoomed past the officers, he rolled down his window and fired about 15 to 20 rounds, officials said. One of the officers jumped out and shot a high-powered rifle at the fleeing truck, they said.
The suspect subsequently crashed that truck and ran into the woods, authorities said. He ended up in a cabin, and a firefight ensued, they said. Two San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies were shot; one was pronounced dead at a hospital, and the other underwent surgery. Hundreds of rounds were fired in the firefight.
Just before 5 p.m., authorities smashed the cabin's windows, pumped in tear gas and called for the suspect to surrender. They got no response, officials said. Then, using a demolition vehicle, they tore down the cabin's walls one by one. By the time they got to the last wall, authorities heard a single gunshot, a source said.
Then flames began to spread through the structure, and gunshots, probably set off by the fire, were heard, officials said.
Charred human remains have been found in the debris of the cabin, authorities said late Tuesday night.
Investigators will attempt to identify the remains through forensic means, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.
For days, multiple law enforcement agencies from across Southern California laid out a dragnet for the Dorner, 33, who is accused of going on a revenge-fueled rampage following his termination from the LAPD in 2008. In addition to the San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy who was fatally wounded Tuesday, Dorner allegedly killed the 28-year-old daughter of a former LAPD captain, her fiance and a Riverside police officer.
-- Phil Willon in Angelus Oaks, and Julie Cart, Matt Stevens, Andrew Blankstein and Joel Rubin in Los Angeles