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Fate of fugitive police officer unclear as manhunt ends

Video by Catherine VIETTE

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-02-13

A fugitive former Los Angeles police officer, Christopher Dorner, was believed to be in a cabin that burned down on Tuesday, but law enforcement officials could not confirm his death. Dorner was suspected of killing four people.

A gunman believed to be an ex-police officer who led California authorities on a six-day manhunt barricaded himself inside a mountain cabin northeast of Los Angeles on Tuesday and traded gunfire with law enforcement officers, killing one before the cabin burned to the ground.

Hours after the cabin went up in flames, investigators said that the charred remains of a body had been found in the ruins, but could not immediately confirm whether they belonged to former Los Angeles policeman Christopher Dorner, 33, who was suspected of a revenge-fueled killing spree in the area.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s department said that they would try to identify the remains using forensic analysis.

The death of a sheriff’s deputy in the shootout at the cabin, located in the snow-covered mountains of the San Bernardino National Forest, brought to four the number of killings Dorner is suspected of committing.

Revenge shooting

An angry, rambling manifesto posted last week on Dorner’s Facebook page claimed he had been wrongly terminated from the Los Angeles Police Department in 2008. He vowed to seek revenge by unleashing “unconventional and asymmetrical warfare” on law enforcement officers and their families.

Police tracked the gunman to the forest cabin after he broke into another home near the ski resort community of Big Bear Lake, tying up a couple there and stealing their pickup truck, authorities said.

A state game warden apparently on the lookout for Dorner exchanged gunshots with the driver of the stolen truck. The vehicle was later abandoned and the driver fled into the forest.

Officials of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said the gunman then barricaded himself inside another cabin and engaged in a shootout with police as they closed in on him.

In addition to the sheriff’s deputy who was shot and killed, another was wounded, Sheriff John McMahon told reporters.

After a lull in the gunfire, the cabin suddenly caught fire, and television news footage showed smoke and flames engulfing the structure in a heavily wooded area.

San Bernardino County sheriff’s spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said a “smoke bomb” had been set off at the cabin before the fire started, but she was uncertain if it had been detonated by the gunman or by law enforcement authorities.

“There is a subject barricaded in the cabin and at this time that cabin is on fire,” Bachman told an earlier news briefing.

“If there is someone inside the house, he is armed and already killed one of our sheriff’s deputies, so we’re not going to allow anyone to go near that house.”

Most extensive manhunt in region’s history

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck has called the search for Dorner the most extensive manhunt in the region’s history.

Dorner’s last confirmed encounter with authorities came early last Thursday, when police said he ambushed two policemen at a traffic light in Riverside, about 60 miles (100 km) east of Los Angeles. One of those officers was killed and the other wounded.

Dorner, a former Navy officer, is also suspected of having exchanged gunfire on Thursday with police and wounding one officer in nearby Corona.

Last Wednesday, he was named as a suspect in the slayings of a campus security officer and his fiancee, the daughter of a retired Los Angeles police captain. In the manifesto posted on his Facebook page, Dorner blamed the captain for his dismissal from the LAPD.

The couple, Keith Lawrence, 27, and Monica Quan, 28, an assistant college basketball coach, were found shot dead on Feb. 3 in their car on the top level of a parking structure in the city of Irvine, south of Los Angeles.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-02-13