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Published: Wednesday February 13, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday April 17, 2013 MYT 12:03:23 PM

Ex-cop reported dead in burning US mountain cabin (updated)

LOS ANGELES: A former US cop wanted for multiple murders was reported dead Tuesday in a burning mountain cabin, after a six-day manhunt that jangled nerves in southern California and beyond.

Christopher Dorner's body was found inside the cabin near the California ski resort of Big Bear, where he had barricaded himself in after a shootout with police that left one officer dead and injured another.

The embittered 33-year-old had allegedly already killed three people before going on the run last week, after posting a chilling online manifesto threatening to kill more officers.

He was cornered in the snow-covered San Bernardino mountains after nearly a week-long manhunt, which focused on Big Bear before expanding amid reported sightings elsewhere in California and a suggestion that he had fled to Mexico.

The LA Times said a single shot was heard as police moved in on the cabin, suggesting Dorner may have taken his own life, although that was not immediately confirmed.

Officers broke the cabin windows, pumped in tear gas and called for Dorner to surrender over a loudspeaker, the LA Times said. When they got no reply, they deployed a vehicle to rip down the cabin walls.

It did so "one by one, like peeling an onion," a law enforcement official told the newspaper. When it got to the last wall, a single gunshot was heard, before flames began to spread through the structure.

NBC and local KTLA 5 television both reported that a body believed to be Dorner's had been found in the cabin.

KTLA 5 television cited LA Police Department (LAPD) spokesman Commander Andrew Smith as saying: "We believe he is dead. We believe he was in that cabin. We believe he was burned up in that cabin."

Police launched a massive manhunt last week for Dorner, after he allegedly killed a couple and a policeman, and injured another three officers, while pledging online to kill officers in revenge for his 2008 sacking.

Smith, the LAPD spokesman, said the confrontation got underway after a vehicle was reported stolen from another cabin near Big Bear by someone who looked like Dorner.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's office immediately launched a ground and air search, and located the vehicle nearby.

"Shortly thereafter, this individual barricaded himself in one of the cabins there and an exchange of gunfire occurred. During that exchange of gunfire, two officers were injured," Smith said.

KTLA 5 said more than 200 officers had surrounded the cabin near Big Bear, where Dorner's pickup truck was found last week shortly after the manhunt was launched.

Earlier, local media reported that the suspect had initially tied up a couple in a cabin, before fleeing. Smith did not confirm those details.

The disgruntled ex-cop threatened to murder police and their families in his rambling manifesto, pledging to "bring unconventional and asymmetrical warfare to those in LAPD uniform whether on or off duty."

Some 50 LAPD officers and families had been placed under special protection. The couple murdered two weeks ago included the daughter of a former LAPD officer linked to Dorner's dismissal.

EARLIER REPORT:

LOS ANGELES: Former US cop and triple murder suspect Christopher Dorner was believed pinned down in a mountain cabin Tuesday, after exchanging gunfire with police near a California ski resort, officials said.

Two officers were injured, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) spokesman Commander Andrew Smith said, confirming reports that the 33-year-old had barricaded himself near the snow-covered town of Big Bear, east of Los Angeles.

Broadcaster KTLA 5 said more than 200 officers were surrounding the cabin near Big Bear, where Dorner's pickup truck was found last week at the start of a massive six-day manhunt.

"Everyone is very hopeful that this thing ends without any further bloodshed. We hope we can take this guy into custody and hope he doesn't hurt anybody else," Smith told reporters.

The six-foot (1.80-meter) naval reservist is accused of killing a couple on February 3, then ambushing two policemen on Thursday and injuring another before going on the run.

The LAPD and other law enforcement agencies launched a huge manhunt, which centered on Big Bear after Dorner's pickup truck was found there - although there had been no sign of him until now.

Smith said the incident started when a vehicle was reported stolen by someone who looked like Dorner. The San Bernardino County Sheriff's office immediately launched a ground and air search, and located the vehicle nearby.

"Shortly thereafter, this individual barricaded himself in one of the cabins there and an exchange of gunfire occurred. During that exchange of gunfire, two officers were injured," he said.

"We hope none of these officers were seriously injured, which we don't know at this point. The best thing for him would be to surrender and allow us to take him into custody and he can face the criminal justice system."

Earlier, local media reported that the suspect had initially tied up a couple in a cabin, before fleeing. Smith did not confirm those details.

He added that officers were not 100 percent sure that Dorner was the suspect in question.

"We're not positive. And until we get this guy in custody, until he's in handcuffs and in jail, we're not going to know for sure," Smith said.

"They said he was similar in appearance... He was up in that area at one time. So, you know, the likelihood is that it's him, but we can't say for sure."

Local television station KTLA 5 reported that smoke grenades had been used, while schools in Big Bear were on lockdown.

Roads in the area were closed off.

Live television pictures showed police cars stopped on a mountain road, with officers crouching behind vehicles, pointing a gun into the woods beside the road. Smoke drifted up from a driveway next to a road.

Shortly after the cabin standoff began, police ordered news helicopters out of the area, to avoid giving information to Dorner if he was watching television inside the cabin.

Dorner, who posted a chilling online manifesto threatening to kill police and their families over his 2008 sacking, was charged Monday over the killing of officer Michael Crain, a 34-year-old father of two.

The disgruntled ex-cop threatened to murder police and their families in his rambling manifesto, pledging to "bring unconventional and asymmetrical warfare to those in LAPD uniform whether on or off duty."

Some 50 LAPD officers and families have been placed under special protection. The couple murdered two weeks ago included the daughter of a former LAPD officer linked to the fugitive ex-cop's dismissal. Big Bear Lake Mayor Jay Obernolte said it was only a question of time before Dorner was caught.

"We have faith in law enforcement personnel up here that he won't be able to hide for long," he said. "We're certainly hoping that he can be captured or subdued without any more loss of life or injury to law enforcement personnel." - AFP

Tags / Keywords: World, News, crime, Christopher Dorner, Los Angeles Police Department, cabin Big Bear

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