Bret Berens has lived in Angelus Oaks and Forest Falls in the San Bernardino Mountains for years, so he's seen his share of deputies and firefighters, but he never saw an emergency response like he saw Tuesday afternoon.
"I was here, it was a little after 12, 12:20, and I saw four sheriff's heading up fast, like 80 miles an hour," said Berens, 27, whose family owns the Oaks Restaurant in Angelus Oaks.
He described what he saw around the same time as a reported shootout involving a suspect believed to be fugitive Christopher Jordan Dorner, at a cabin on Glass Road in the Seven Oaks area, several winding miles east of Angelus Oaks on State Route 38.
"Then it seemed like hundreds of law enforcement," Berens said, standing at the register inside the Oaks. "Three hundred, four hundred cop cars, from all over Southern California. Seven SWAT vehicles. There were 80 cops outside the restaurant. The rest of them were moving. Deputies, CHP, black-and-whites. Armored vehicles too. Many, many unmarked cars."
Two San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department deputies were shot in the exchange of gunfire at the cabin, department officials said. One was later confirmed deceased at Loma Linda University Medical Center.
Berens held his 3-year-old son Noah just before 8 p.m. Feb. 12 outside the Oaks, surrounded by a crowd of news reporters, tv trucks, and deputies' patrol cars.
"It sounds like they got him," Berens said. "Let's hope so. They haven't confirmed it yet. It's still not safe to go in there.
"We're all self-reliant up here but of course real grateful for the law, what they do, the sacrifices they make."
Among the law enforcement agencies that responded Tuesday afternoon were Beaumont police, Redlands police, Fontana police, as well as San Bernardino County deputies from Yucaipa, Highland and Loma Linda.
After sundown as conflicting reports emerged about a body inside the burned cabin on Glass Road, heavily armed U.S. Marshals in body armor and helmets prepared themselves in the Oaks Restaurant parking lot to head east to an investigation that appeared would go overnight and longer.
Whether the cabin contained the remains of Dorner, the rogue ex-LAPD cop and military-trained marksman, by late Tuesday authorities said he was believed accountable for four killings in the past ten days: a San Bernardino County deputy on Feb. 12, a Riverside police officer on Feb. 7, and a former LAPD captain's daughter and her fiancé in Irvine on Feb. 3.
Glass Road is near the area known as Barton Flats, close to the headwaters of the Santa Ana River watershed, below the 38 and the San Gorgonio Wilderness, which includes the highest point in Southern California, San Gorgonio Mountain, estimated 11,500 feet elevation.
Angelus Oaks is about 20 miles northeast of Redlands and about 80 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.
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