The man believed to be a former Los Angeles police officer on a deadly rampage never came out of a California mountain cabin as it burned in the woods following a gunfight that left one sheriff’s deputy dead and another wounded.
The suspect, believed to be 33-year-old fugitive Christopher Dorner, had fled to the cabin in Mentone, Calif., just south of Big Bear Lake, and was surrounded by law enforcement agents.
Shortly after a police tactical unit entered the cabin, flames and smoke could be seen, but it’s unclear what triggered the fire. The Associated Press reports that a single shot was heard inside.
Authorities are now waiting for the fire to burn out before beginning their search for a possible body.
The suspect had earlier been locked in a gunfight with sheriff’s deputies. A spokesperson for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s office, Cindy Bachman, said two deputies were injured in the battle and airlifted to hospital – one was later pronounced dead, and the other was expected to survive.
If the suspected gunman is Dorner, he would now be wanted in connection to four deaths. Dorner, a U.S. Navy veteran, has been on the run since authorities identified him as a suspect in the Feb. 3 killing of Monica Quan, a former police captain’s daughter, and her fiancé in Irvine, Calif.
Police also believe Dorner killed one officer and injured two others in two separate incidents during the intense manhunt.
On Tuesday, the suspect was first confronted by police after allegedly breaking into a home, tying up a couple, and stealing a car.
LAPD said authorities in San Bernardino got a call at 12:22 p.m. local time about the vehicle theft by an individual who fit Dorner’s description.
The suspect eventually abandoned the stolen vehicle and fled to the cabin before exchanging gunfire with police.
The area was sealed off by police and a temporary restriction on flights was also put in place. Checkpoints have been set up on roads surrounding the cabin, with officers checking every vehicle.
Kyle Martin, the owner of the cabin, told CNN the surrounding property is about 10 acres and other cabins were “about a mile away or so.”
Dorner was believed to have been hiding in the wooded mountains surrounding Big Bear Lake for the past few days.
At an afternoon news conference, LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith urged the suspect to surrender.
“Enough is enough,” Smith said. “It's time for you to turn yourself in. It's time to end the bloodshed.”
“Until this guy is in handcuffs and in custody…none of the people in our department will be able to rest,” he added.
Southern California authorities recently offered a $1 million reward for information leading to Dorner’s arrest.
In a searing manifesto posted on Facebook, Dorner has declared war on LAPD, listing names of targets he believes have wronged him.
Dorner was fired from the police department five years ago for falsely accusing his training officer of kicking a mentally ill suspect, but he claims he was a victim of racism.
"You're going to see what a whistleblower can do when you take everything from him especially his NAME!!!" he wrote in his post. "You have awoken a sleeping giant."
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said he would reopen the investigation into Dorner’s firing to assure the public that the police force is fair and transparent.