Southern California police on Thursday said that police officers did not intentionally burn down the cabin where suspected cop-killer Christopher Dorner was holed up.
There were reports Wednesday suggesting police may have called for burning Dorner out of the cabin in Big Bear, a mountainous resort area in Southern California’s San Bernadino County. Purported audio recordings were uploaded to the Internet of the police scanner used during the cabin raid, including voices saying there were “burners deployed and we have a fire.” Another voice appeared to say: “We’re going to burn him out” and “burn this [expletive].”
However, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon told The Associated Press that the fire was not set deliberately. “We did not intentionally burn down that cabin to get Mr. Dorner out,” he was quoted as saying.
McMahon said that pyrotechnic tear gas was shot into the cabin before it burst into flames. He did not say if the tear gas caused the fire, adding that the incident was under investigation.
Dorner’s wallet was found at the scene of the charred cabin, but police said they were not able to positively identify the burned body that was discovered there. The manhunt for Dorner, a former Los Angeles Police Department officer who was fired several years ago, was then deemed over.
Dorner shot and killed at least three people, triggering the largest manhunt in Los Angeles history. He posted a manifesto online that said he would target LAPD officers and their families.
Before officers closed in on his apparent location in Big Bear, Dorner hijacked a pickup truck driven by a local man Rick Heltebrake on a rural mountain road.
“I don’t want to hurt you. Start walking and take your dog,” Heltebrake recalled Dorner as saying Tuesday. He said that Dorner, who was wearing camouflage and a bulletproof vest with ammunition, pointed an assault rifle at him.
On the day police tracked him down, Dorner tied up a couple, Karen and Jim Reynolds, who own the Mountain Vista Resort, where the alleged cop-killer was hiding.
“He opened the door and came out at us. He had his gun drawn,” Jim Reynolds told CBS News. “He yelled ‘stay calm’ and ran out.”
The couple said that Dorner did not appear to be a bad man, while saying that they were well aware of his status as an alleged murderer.
“He talked to us trying to calm us down and saying very frequently he would not kill us,” Karen told the station. “He had said ‘I just want to clear my name.’”
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