No ID Yet On Charred Body Found After Police Manhunt
Authorities in Southern California released some new details Wednesday about the gunfight and fire that apparently ended the manhunt for fugitive former cop Christopher Dorner. He's accused of four murders. While authorities say their search for him is over, they still haven't positively identified the body.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
The manhunt for fugitive former police officer Christopher Dorner is officially over. Dorner was wanted for four murders. Tuesday he apparently perished in a burning mountain cabin, after a chase and a gunfight.
Yesterday, authorities offered new information about the ordeal. NPR's Kirk Siegler reports.
KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: When San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon faced reporters yesterday afternoon, he stopped short of confirming that it was Christopher Dorner recovered from the burned out cabin.
SHERIFF JOHN MCMAHON: Our coroner's division is working on trying to confirm the identity through forensics. And we should know that at some point here soon.
SIEGLER: But McMahon did make clear that the largest manhunt in California history is over. And in the brief news conference, he offered a few more details that are helping explain how the dramatic series of events unfolded. McMahon confirmed that deputies lobbed two types of tear gas canisters into the cabin where Dorner was holed up. And one was flammable. But he insisted they weren't trying to start a fire.
MCMAHON: I can tell you that it was not on purpose. We did not intentionally burn down that cabin to get Mr. Dorner out.
SIEGLER: Sheriff McMahon also confirmed yesterday that Dorner stole two separate vehicles, as he led authorities on a roughly 30 mile chase to where the standoff came to a violent end. One was a Nissan that belonged to Karen and Jim Reynolds. They own the condo up the mountain in Big Bear where Dorner allegedly hid while the manhunt was underway. The couple told reporters, last night, they entered their condo on Tuesday to find Dorner, who tied them up and held them captive for about 15 minutes before he fled.
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SIEGLER: What's remarkable is seeing the Reynolds' condo just a couple hundred yards from chairlifts that that whisk skiers up the Bear Mountain Resort. And it's even closer to the command post where authorities briefed reporters for most of the past week.
BRANDON REPPOND: From where I live, I can look off my front deck. And I'm looking at two windows in the unit he was in. So he was looking at me, if I'm looking at him.
SIEGLER: Brandon Reppond came home from snowboarding Tuesday to find the snowy street in front of his building once again closed off.
REPPOND: I thought I was safe because there was 200 units of all different agencies across from my house. So I thought I was in a safe place and I was right next to him.
SIEGLER: But that sense of shock and amazement is giving way to a feeling here that people just want things to get back to normal - so do police across Southern California. The LAPD has scaled back its protection details of officers targeted in Christopher Dorner's alleged manifesto.
Nevertheless, the funeral yesterday for the Riverside Police officer, Dorner is accused of killing last week, was a somber reminder of all of the violence in recent days.
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SIEGLER: Thousands packed a church to pay their respects to slain Officer Michael Crain. He was remembered as a trusted colleague, a former Marine and father. Crain's widow, Regina, choked back tears when it was her turn to speak. She said she knew there'd be an outpouring of support.
REGINA CRAIN: But I really did not realize the sheer scale of this and how many people are touched by his life.
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CRAIN: It gives me really great comfort to see that. And I want to thank you all.
SIEGLER: And yesterday's memorial isn't the last. At the news conference back at the San Bernardino County Sheriff's headquarters, deputies stood next to a large photo resting on an easel. It was of 35-year-old Detective Jeremiah McKay, father of two. He was killed Tuesday in the shootout at the cabin Christopher Dorner had barricaded himself into.
Kirk Siegler, NPR News, Big Bear, California. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.