A body has been found in the suspected refuge of rogue ex-cop Chris Dorner in the ski mountains of Big Bear, but it will take forensic tests to determine whether it is his.
“Investigators have located charred human remains within the debris of the burned out cabin. Identification will be attempted through forensic means,” said a statement from San Bernadino County Sheriff-Coroner John McMahon.
"We have reason to believe that it is him," San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Cynthia Bachman told AP. Dorner’s wallet and driver’s license, which apparently survived the fire, were found.
Twitter was agog with questions about Dorner’s wallet, which police had earlier said he dropped in San Diego five days ago. Tweets also asked if driver’s licenses were now flame proof.
CNN and others published on the Web or telecast audio apparently from scanner frequencies with an unnamed person shouting burn the house down.
The Los Angeles Times reported police set fire to the house. “Faced with regular barrages of gunfire, officers confronting suspected murderer Christopher Dorner lobbed highly flammable gas into the cabin where Dorner was believed to be holed up, law enforcement officials with knowledge of the situation said today,” the Times reported.
Because it was dark and dangerous to enter the burned out structure, investigators had been slow to enter it. Even in the daylight there is a risk that burned structures can collapse.
Los Angeles police have said they will not be satisfied the search has ended until they have confirmed it is their former colleague's body or have tracked him down and put him in handcuffs.
Hundreds of bullets had been fired in a deadly standoff with rogue Los Angeles ex-cop Dorner near Big Bear.
Earlier, the Los Angeles Times reported a single shot was heard. This could mean Dorner shot himself.
CNN said tear gas was fired into the house where Dorner was believed hiding at about 4:30 p.m. A SWAT team followed. Flames and smoke were seen rising from the cabin. No effort was being made to put out the fire, but firefighters entered the site at 5:46 p.m. Los Angeles time.
But it remained unknown whether Dorner was inside or had escaped when the assault began.
If he was inside he likely would have died from smoke inhalation, unless he had a protective mask. Surviving the flames would have been much more difficult, indeed unlikely. It was not known whether he had some type of police uniform which would have facilitated an escape.
The Los Angeles Times says the ex-cop, who claims he was victimized by fellow officers and is seeking revenge, was reportedly surrounded. A $1 million reward has been offered.
The Times said at least two deputies were wounded, one of them died, CNN reported. Dorner is an Iraq veteran with superb defensive skills.
In a news conference broadcast live Los Angeles police said a man believed to be Dorner was barricaded in a mountain cabin. Police said they could not confirm there were two hostages.
He is accused of killing three people related to the case. Dorner claims he was framed when he was fired in 2008.
Los Angeles police had 1,045 officers on the case. They said they were prepared to send a large force to Big Bear as soon as San Bernadino County authorized it.
Big Bear is 87 miles east of Los Angeles.
The Huffington Post said: “The former Navy reservist began his run from the law on Feb. 6 after authorities connected the slayings of a former police captain's daughter and her fiancé with an angry manifesto they said Dorner posted on Facebook.” The Post said he vowed he would kill the cops who framed him and their families, causing the police department to assign bodyguards to as many as 50 officers and their families.
Among the dead were Monica Quan, 27, an assistant basketball coach, and her finance, Keith Lawrence, 27, a University of Southern California public safety employee.
Randal Quan, Monica’s father, represented Dorner at his disciplinary hearing. Lawrence, 27, had recently started working for USC's Department of Public Safety as an officer.
The Guardian said Dorner later ambushed a police patrol and killed Officer Michael Crain and wounded one other officer.
The Huffington Post said a former LAPD officer, Joe Jones, posted a statement relayed by Anonymous saying he sympathized with Dorner. Jones said he been a victim of a similar miscarriage of justice.