LAPD manhunt: cops in stand-off after one officer killed, one hurt in shootout during search for Dorner
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By Tracy Connor, Staff Writer, NBC News
Police were surrounding the flaming mountainside cabin where former LAPD cop Christopher Dorner barricaded himself Tuesday after killing one sheriff’s deputy and wounding a second, law enforcement sources said.
Black smoke and flames could be seen coming from the cabin, but it was unknown how the fire started or even whether Dorner was trapped inside.
A shootout and standoff began after police received a report around 12:22 p.m. that someone fitting Dorner’s description had stolen a car from a home near the ski resort area of Big Bear, police said.
A ground and air search ensued, and authorities located the pickup on Highway 38.
A spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game said one of its wardens was the “very first person to spot Mr. Dorner … They both got out of the vehicles and exchanged gunfire.”
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The warden was not hurt and Dorner, who was already wanted for three slayings linked to a revenge-fueled rampage, was not captured, agency spokesman Andrew Hughan told NBCLosAngeles.com.
Gunfire erupted during the hunt for former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, who was charged with murder on Monday. The unfolding drama brought officers to a cabin in the mountains where the suspect was barricaded inside. NBC's Miguel Almaguer reports.
“The suspect fled into the forest and barricaded himself inside a cabin,” said a statement from the San Bernardino Sheriff’s office.
“A short time later there was an exchange of gunfire between law enforcement and the suspect ... Two law enforcement officers are being airlifted to a local hospital with unknown injuries.”
The wounded officers were taken to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where Sheriff John McMahon later confirmed one had died and one was in surgery. Their names were not released.
Meanwhile heavily armed cops were massed around the cabin where the suspect – identified as Dorner by high-ranking LAPD sources – holed up after crashing the stolen truck.
In the largest manhunt in LAPD history, hundreds of investigators have spent a week searching for Dorner, who is accused of killing a retired captain’s daughter and her fiancé on Feb. 3 and a police officer on Feb. 7.
Dorner’s burned-out truck, a Nissan Titan, was found in Big Bear last week and scores of officers have been combing the mountain, going door-to-door to see if they could find signs of forced entry.
At an afternoon press conference, LAPD commander Andy Smith wouldn't confirm the ex-LAPD officer was holed-up in the cabin, but said he had a message for Dorner: “Enough is enough. It’s time to turn yourself in.”
“Everyone is very hopeful that this thing ends without any further bloodshed,” Smith said. “The best thing for him now would be to surrender…and he can face the criminal justice system.”
LAPD officers rushed to the scene to assist San Bernardino deputies and were also sifting through hundreds of clues about Dorner’s activities in recent days.
“Until this guy is in handcuffs … none of the people in our department are going to rest,” Smith said.
Dorner, an ex-cop and Navy reservist detailed his plans and hit list in an online manifesto — a 11,000-word declaration of war against the LAPD in which he makes it clear he would not be taken alive.
“Self Preservation is no longer important to me,” he wrote. “I do not fear death as I died long ago on 1/2/09.”
That’s the date that Dorner got his walking papers from the LAPD after being fired for making a false statement about an officer he accused of brutalizing a suspect.
Police say Dorner exacted revenge on the lawyer who represented him at the internal review, retired captain Randy Quan, by gunning down his daughter, Monica Quan, 28, and her boyfriend, Keith Lawrence, 27, in their car as they returned home to Irvine, Calif., after the Super Bowl.
Four days later, authorities said, Dorner ambushed police officers who were guarding other potential targets in Riverside and Corona, Calif., killing one of them.
LAPD officials said earlier Tuesday they were sifting through 1,000 clues and, including a video that may show the suspect stocking up on scuba gear before the killing spree.
"With a thousand clues or tips, you have to prioritize," LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman said.
Police confirmed they were even looking into the possibility Dorner had fled to Mexico — the destination he mentioned when he tried to steal a boat in San Diego last Wednesday.
"It is frustrating," Neiman said. "We are hopeful that these investigative leads will lead to a conclusion."