BIG BEAR, Calif. - The extraordinary manhunt for the former Los Angeles police officer suspected of three murders converged Tuesday on a mountain cabin where authorities believe he barricaded himself inside, engaged in a shootout that killed a deputy and then never emerged as the home went up in flames.
A single gunshot was heard from within, and a charred body was found inside.
If the man inside proves to be Christopher Dorner, as authorities suspect, the search for the most wanted man in America over the last week would have ended the way he had expected - death, with the police pursuing him.
Law Enforcement personnel gear up along Hwy 38 during the hunt for accused killer and fired Los Angeles police officer, Christopher Dorner in Yacaipa, Caif.,Tuesday. Dorner, a man police believe to be the fugitive ex-Los Angeles officer wanted in three killings, was barricaded inside a burning cabin Tuesday after a shootout in a California mountain town that left one deputy dead and another wounded.
Thousands of officers had been on the hunt for the former Navy reservist since police said he launched a campaign to exact revenge against the Los Angeles Police Department for his firing. They say he threatened to bring "warfare" to officers and their families, spreading fear and setting off a search for him across the Southwest and Mexico.
"Enough is enough. It's time for you to turn yourself in. It's time to stop the bloodshed," LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said at a news conference held outside police headquarters in Los Angeles, a starkly different atmosphere than last week when officials briefed the news media under tight security with Dorner on the loose.
A short time after Smith spoke Tuesday, smoke began to rise from the cabin in the snow-covered woods near Big Bear Lake, a resort town about 80 miles east of Los Angeles. Flames then engulfed the building - images that were broadcast on live television around the world. TV helicopters showed the fire burning freely with no apparent effort to extinguish it.
"We have reason to believe that it is him," said San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Cynthia Bachman, adding that she didn't know how the fire started. She noted there was gunfire between the person in the cabin and officers around the home before the blaze began.