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Charred Body of Ex-LAPD Cop Found in Cabin

Staff Report
NBCNews.com

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A charred body was found Tuesday night in the torched mountainside cabin where former LAPD cop Christopher Dorner barricaded himself after killing one sheriff's deputy and wounding a second in a gun battle, a law enforcement source told NBC News.

Black smoke and flames were seen coming from the rustic rental in the late afternoon, but it was unknown how the raging fire started.

The sources could not confirm the body that was found inside was Dorner – the target of Los Angeles' biggest manhunt ever.

Shortly before 7 p.m. local time, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told Telemundo "it's over," but declined to elaborate when asked follow questions.

The shootout and standoff began after police received a report around 12:22 p.m. local time that someone fitting Dorner's description had stolen a car from a home near the ski resort area of Big Bear, police said.

The man told NBCLosAngeles.com that a man who looked like Dorner came up to him with a rifle and demanded his pickup, and let him take his dogs out of the back before he fled.

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."

The warden's truck was riddled with bullets but he was not hurt, agency spokesman Andrew Hughan told NBCLosAngeles.com.

Dorner, who was already wanted for three slayings linked to a revenge-fueled rampage, "fled into the forest and barricaded himself inside a cabin," the San Bernardino Sheriff's office said in a statement.

 "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.

No more shots were fired from inside the cabin in Angelus Oaks, but sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said there was no indication that the suspect had been wounded.

Bachman said there was no timetable for when police would try to enter the captain where the gunman — identified as Dorner by high-ranking LAPD sources – holed up after abandoning the stolen truck.

"When it's safe to do so," she said. "We have to let it burn simply because there's an armed and dangerous suspect inside."

She would not answer questions about whether it was possible the shooter had somehow escaped and was on the loose in the woods as nightfall approached.

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."

Among the newest leads, a video that was posted on TMZ that appears to show Dorner purchasing scuba equipment at Sport Chalet in Torrance, Calif., on Feb. 1. Neiman said police had not nailed down if it was Dorner and could not say why he would be buying underwater gear.

A criminal complaint filed in federal court last week also revealed that investigators have been tracking an associate of Dorner — someone with the initials J.Y. — whose family has property not far from where Dorner's vehicle was abandoned and torched.

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