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Dorner Death Scene: SWAT Captain Details Fugitive Ex-Cop's Final Hours

The morning of Saturday Feb. 16, workers were putting fence around the burned cabin where Dorner's charred remains were located after an intense gun battle with deputies, who eventually used pyrotechnic gas that set the cabin afire.

Workers early Saturday Feb. 16 placed fence around the burned husk of a cabin on Seven Oaks Road where fugitive ex-cop Christopher Dorner allegedly shot and killed a deputy, wounded another, and apparently shot himself in the head when SWAT deputies deployed pyrotechnic gas that set the structure afire with him inside.

San Bernardino County sheriff's officials called the move a last resort to get Dorner to surrender. Dorner's charred remains were located in a basement area of the cabin, Sgt. Trevis Newport of the sheriff's Homicide Division said Friday at a news conference.

The first two deputies who confronted multi-murder suspect Dorner at a cabin east of Angelus Oaks on Feb. 12 were both shot, and the next officers on scene found them lying wounded in the line of fire, Capt. Gregg Herbert of the San Bernardino County sheriff's Special Enforcement Division said.

Herbert described a pitched gun battle in which some officers risked their own safety under intense gunfire to rescue fallen comrades.

"When our first SWAT deputies arrived on scene, they observed Detective MacKay and Deputy Collins laying in the road, out in the open," Herbert told reporters.

"The first five officers that showed up quickly formed a plan. They knew they needed to rescue both our downed officers. So as they exchanged gunfire with the suspect in the cabin, trying to push him back so that he couldn't keep shooting at them, they deployed smoke to put a smoke screen up and block the suspect's view of where the deputies were laying on the ground.

"They then raced out into the open, still under fire, because he was firing through the smoke, and they managed to drag both the injured officers back to cover," Herbert said.

"At the same time, additional SWAT deputies were showing up on both sides of the scene. There was a team supervisor that began giving orders trying to set containment, however every time they tried to move, Dorner was shooting at them.

"I arrived a short time later," Herbert said. "There was bullets snapping through the trees as more of the SWAT deputies showed up. Eventually we were able to get two sides of the cabin covered, and we were able to gain some advantage trading gunfire with him so that he quit shooting at us for a certain amount of time.

"As we started to try to get more deputies on the perimeter, he would start shooting at us again, and we had to return fire to protect our deputies. We eventually got containment set on the house to ensure that he couldn't run away into the surrounding forest.

"The entire time we were there, when we would move he would shoot at us, and so the officers were forced to take cover the entire time if they weren't returning fire," Herbert said.

"We elected to insert what's called cold gas into the cabin, in an attempt to force his surrender. We used an allied agency's armored vehicle and deployed cold gas into the cabin. There was no response from the suspect. None. No movement.

"And we felt that based upon his behavior that he was laying in wait for us, if we tried to enter the cabin there was going to be another gun battle, a very close quarters gun battle, so an entry of the cabin was not an option, for the safety of our officers," Herbert said.

"We then made the decision to deploy a pyrotechnic chemical agent which is much more effective in saturating a structure, and getting good saturation, a lot of gas, and hopefully to force Mr. Dorner to surrender or to come out.

"Prior to that, to deploying the pyrotechnic gas, we used our tactical tractor and opened up several windows and walls of the house, the cabin, so that we could try to see inside and see if we could see Mr. Dorner, and have some communication with him, or just to see what he was doing, so we could try to get some tactical advantage," Herbert said.

"We did the porting around the cabin, opened up windows and walls, did not see anything. As we were doing the porting, Mr. Dorner was throwing smoke inside the cabin in an attempt to obscure our view into the cabin. I believe he threw four, as I recall, during the sequence of events as we opened up the windows.

"The time came to insert the pyrotechnic chemical agent, and it was inserted at the southeast corner," Herbert said. "We put the chemical agent in.

"As I watched the chemical agent disperse into the house, there was a good amount of saturation in the cabin, to the point where I saw it was put in basically to the southeast corner and I saw it coming out through the north wall, which indicated to me in my experience there was a lot of gas in there and that should be able to force him out, and hopefully surrender.

"He did not surrender.

"At some point thereafter, assistant division commander Lt. (John) Ginter put out that a fire had started at the southeast corner," Herbert said. "And one thing, before we put that pyrotechnic chemical agent in, we made numerous P.A. announcements identifying him by name, asking him to surrender, telling him who were were, and asking him to come out. And then the pyrotechnic chemical agent was inserted.

"As the fire continued to spread, when probably about a quarter of the cabin was on fire, we heard a distinct single gunshot come from inside the house, which was a much different sounding shot from the shots we had been, he had been shooting at us, which indicated to me a different type of weapon was fired.

"The fire continued to spread throughout the cabin, eventually consumed the entire cabin to the point it was no longer a standing structure," Herbert said. "As the fire continued to burn numerous rounds of live ammunition started detonating inside the house repeatedly. Round after round after round.

"It created a danger for our deputies as well, because those can come outside and hurt somebody if you're not under cover. Eventually the cabin was consumed by fire to the point it was not a standing structure any more. The live ammunition quit detonating and the fire department was allowed to come in and cool what was remaining of the cabin.

"Then eventually the SWAT deputies were pulled back and the scene was turned over to our homicide investigators."

Authorities believe Dorner, who was fired by the Los Angeles Police Department in 2009, is accountable for four killings in the space of ten days: a former LAPD captain's daughter and her fiancé in Irvine on Feb. 3, Riverside police Officer Michael Crain on Feb. 7, and San Bernardino County sheriff's Detective Jeremiah MacKay on Feb. 12.

Crain was a Redlands High School graduate who attended Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, and a Beaumont resident. MacKay worked in the Big Bear area and Yucaipa, and he was a resident of Redlands. Both men leave behind wives and young children.

For a report on the full news conference, click here.

Related News:

  • DORNER'S LAST STAND: Fugitive Kept Trying to Shoot More Deputies at Cabin
  • DORNER INVESTIGATION: Gunshot Wound to Head Appears Self-Inflicted
  • DORNER IS DEAD: Confirmed ID of Charred Remains Made in Autopsy
  • REDLANDS MOURNS: Slain Detective is Second Local Victim Tied to Dorner
  • VIDEO: Thousands Mourn Loss of Slain Riverside Police Officer Michael Crain
  • MANHUNT SHOOTOUT: Angelus Oaks Family Recalls Massive Response on 38
  • DORNER MANHUNT: Mountain Search for Alleged Cop-Killer to Go Thru Night
  • Murder Charges Filed Against Chris Dorner in Redlands High Grad's Death
  • Funeral Service Information for Slain Riverside Police Officer Mike Crain
  • $1 Million Reward Offered For Dorner's Capture
  • LAPD Chief Beck's Full Statement on Reviewing Dorner's Termination Case
  • MANHUNT: Search For Rogue Former Cop Continues
  • DORNER MANHUNT: Armed Deputies Vigilant on Snowbound Mountain Roads
  • Winter Storm Warning for Mountains Where Dorner Search is Under Way
  • DORNER MANIFESTO: Rogue Officer Posted His Plan for 'Last Resort' Online

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Scott A McMillan February 19, 2013 at 04:11 PM
They did what they set out to do: administer street justice.

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