UpdatedPolice were surrounding the flaming mountainside cabin where former LAPD cop Christopher Dorner barricaded himself Tuesday after killing one sheriff’s deputy and wounding a second, law enforcement sources said.
Black smoke and flames could be seen coming from the rental cabin in the late afternoon, but it was unknown how the raging fire started or even whether Dorner was still trapped inside.
A 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.
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 was not hurt and Dorner, who was already wanted for three slayings linked to a revenge-fueled rampage, was not captured, agency spokesman Andrew Hughan told NBCLosAngeles.com.
Gunfire erupted during the hunt for former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, who was charged with murder on Monday. The unfolding drama brought officers to a cabin in the mountains where the suspect was barricaded inside. NBC's Miguel Almaguer reports.
“The suspect fled into the forest and barricaded himself inside a cabin,” said a statement from the San Bernardino Sheriff’s office.
“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, declining to answer questions about whether it was possible that Dorner 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.
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.