LOS ANGELES, Calif.--A fired Los Angeles police officer who was accused of killing four people and whose charred remains were found inside a burned-out Big Bear cabin after a shootout with law enforcement authorities died from a single gunshot wound to the head, San Bernardino County sheriff's officials said today.
Sheriff's officials said more testing was being done, but it appeared that 33-year-old Christopher Jordan Dorner--who was suspected of killing two people in Irvine, a Riverside police officer and a San Bernardino sheriff's detective--committed suicide as tear gas and flames enveloped the cabin.
Dorner's remains, which were found in the basement of the cabin, were identified Thursday using dental records, officials said.
Dorner died at the end of a fierce standoff and gunfight Tuesday afternoon at a Seven Oaks cabin in Big Bear. Sheriff's deputies eventually fired tear gas canisters into the cabin and a fire erupted, burning the
structure to the ground.
San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon insisted today that deputies did not intentionally set fire to the cabin to get Dorner out of the cabin, despite comments heard on scanner broadcasts by some law enforcement officers at the scene saying they should burn the structure down. McMahon said the comments were not made by command personnel and were unauthorized off-hand remarks by deputies or officers who were under heavy fire.
McMahon also defended his deputies' search of the area following the discovery Feb. 7 of Dorner's burning truck in the area. Dorner had apparently been hiding out in a cabin in the 1200 block of Club View Drive--overlooking the sheriff's command post.
McMahon said deputies went to the cabin that night and found the door locked, and nobody responded to a knock. Investigators later discovered that the cabin's owners--66-year-old Jim and 56-year-old Karen Reynolds--had actually left the door unlocked, an indication that Dorner had already entered the cabin and was hiding inside when deputies knocked at the door.
The sheriff said he supported the job done by deputies on the search, saying he did not authorize them to kick in cabin doors.
Dorner was discovered shortly after noon Tuesday when Jim and Karen Reynolds entered the cabin to prepare it for a pending rental. Dorner tied them up and stole their car, crashed it and carjacked a truck before winding up in the Seven Oaks cabin, where the gunbattle and fire ensued.
During the exchange of gunfire, San Bernardino County sheriff's Detective Jeremiah MacKay, 35, was killed, and Deputy Alex Collins was wounded.
Collins was expected to make a full recovery.
Authorities said Dorner's killing spree began Feb. 3, when the former Navy Reserve lieutenant allegedly gunned down the daughter and future son-in-law of an ex-police captain who represented him at a hearing that resulted in his dismissal from the LAPD.
The bodies of 28-year-old Cal State Fullerton assistant women's basketball coach Monica Quan and her fiance, 27-year-old USC public safety Officer Keith Lawrence, were found in Lawrence's car in the parking structure of their Irvine condominium building.
The next day, Dorner allegedly posted a 6,000-word manifesto online, vowing to kill named LAPD officers and their families. About 50 Los Angeles police officers and their families were under police protection during the manhunt.
On Feb. 7, Dorner was allegedly involved in a shootout with Los Angeles police guarding an officer's home in Corona, leaving one officer with a graze wound to the head, police said. About 20 minutes later, he allegedly fired on a pair of Riverside police officers stopped at a red light, killing Officer Michael Crain, 34, and wounding the other, who was expected to recover.
Crain, an 11-year department veteran and ex-Marine, is survived by his wife, Regina, and two children, Ian, 10, and Kaitlyn, 4. He was buried Wednesday at Riverside National Cemetery after a memorial service at Grove Community Church. Among the thousands of people paying their final respects were Gov. Jerry Brown, Attorney General Kamala Harris, military veterans and thousands of police officers from around the state and country.