UPDATED February 15, 2013
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The San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department confirmed the identity of the remains found in the burnt out cabin in the Big Bear Area. Because the remains were burned beyond recognition, dental records were used to identify the ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner. This comes just one day after Sheriff John McMahon made a statement that the manhunt for the fugitive had been called off.
In events that started on February 3, with the murder of an engaged couple, and escalating with a massive multi-state and multi-country search, which began on February 7 when Dorner tried to steal a boat in San Diego and shot at officers in Corona and Riverside killing Michael Crain. The trail lead up to Big Bear where his truck was found burned with a broken axle. That is where the trail went cold until February 12.
Tuesday afternoon Jim and Karen Reynolds went to their unoccupied apartment in Big Bear surprising Dorner who was hiding out there. Their apartment was directly across the street from the command outpost of those searching for him. According to Karen Reynolds, Dorner stated he would not kill them. He tied them up, put wash cloths in their mouths, and tied pillows over their heads. Dorner then stole their car, at which time the Reynolds’ broke free and contacted the authorities.
Dorner was then chased by California Department of Fish and Wildlife personnel who identified the stolen car. The pursuit culminated with a shoot out between the two vehicles and one of the wardens exiting the car to fire 20 high powered rounds at Dorner as he continued past them.
During the pursuit, Dorner crashed the car he had stolen and carjacked Richard Heltebrake’s silver truck. According to Heltebrake, Dorner came out of the trees and stood in the road telling Heltebrake to get out, take his dog and walk up the road. As with the Reynolds’, Dorner said he did not want to harm Heltebrake.
A San Bernardino Sheriff patrol car with 2 deputies (found the truck parked in front of a cabin. The deputies were discussing how to proceed when they saw footprints in the snow leading up to one of the cabins. Dorner then ambushed the deputies from the cabin in question) and a shoot out ensued. (Other officers arrived on scene about the same time the shots were fired.) Detective Jeremiah MacKay and Officer Andrew Tachias were both shot, MacKay fatally. The cabin became the last place Dorner would be as he became trapped by officers surrounding the area.
At one point Dorner tried to escape, but was forced back into the cabin by surrounding officers. As night approached, a highly flammable “hot gas” was used to try to force Dorner out. The use of this incendiary device accidentally caught the cabin on fire. There was one shot heard from inside and then the sounds of other ammunition exploding as the fire grew. The cabin was allowed to burn out on its own with no other events reported.
Christopher Dorner’s remains were found after the scene was deemed to be safe to enter. His remains were transferred to the (Riverside County Coroner’s Office) for identification.
UPDATED 2/15/13- San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department’s John McMahon held a press conference today at 4:00pm PST. He stated that the Reynolds’ condominium was checked on Thursday night February 7th. The door was found locked and there was no answer. The Reynolds’ stated that the door had been left unlocked the last time they had left. Officers were instructed not to force entry if the door was locked, there was no answer, and there was not cause to suspect forced entry. The building was then tagged as searched.
Cold gas was used first to try to force Dorner out of the cabin. It was only after the failure of the attempts to coax him out of the cabin using multiple strategies that the more flammable device was used. It was also revealed that the sound of the single shot after the fire started had a different sound than the other shots Dorner had been firing.
Captain Kevin Lacey stated the coroner’s report’s cause of death was a single gun shot wound to the head. It seems to have been self inflicted. His remains were transferred to San Bernardino County Morgue upon completion of the autopsy.