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Report: L.A. fugitive in gun battle with police

6:34 PM, Feb 12, 2013   |    comments
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by Doug Stanglin and William M. Welch, USA TODAY

A dramatic daylight gunfight broke out Tuesday between law enforcement officers and a man they believe to be Christopher Dorner, the fugitive ex-cop wanted in three murders and a revenge shooting rampage across Southern California.

At least two officers were wounded, and efforts to airlift them to a hospital were underway, the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department said..

Dorner fled to a vacation cabin in the ski resort area. He was pinned down and surrounded in the cabin, and it was unknown if the fugitive had been it by gunfire.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department released a statement saying that deputies searching for Dormer responded to a reported stolen vehicle int he 1200 block of Club View Dr., in the Big Bear community in the San Bernardino mountains.

"The reporting party said the suspect took their vehicle and described the suspect as looking very similar to Dorner,'' the department said. "Deputies immediately began a search on the ground and from the air for the vehicle.''

"The vehicle was located at Highway 38 and Glass Road. The suspect fled into the forest and barricaded himself inside a cabin,'' the department said.

"A short time later there was an exchange of gunfire between law enforcement and the suspect. Sheriff's SWAT is on scene.
Two law enforcement officers are being airlifted to a local hospital with unknown injuries,'' it said.

Gunshots could be heard along with tense shouts of officers on a KCAL-TV audio broadcast from the scene in the Big Bear area.

The station reported state fish and game officers exchanged shots with the fugitive after Dorner was stopped in a truck, then broke and ran on foot after exchanging gunfire. Authorities responded to the location and gave chase Tuesday when Dorner fled in a stolen car.

All roads out of the area were closed, and skiers were instructed not to try to leave the area immediately.

The area is in Big Bear region where a search for Dorner has been under way since his pickup truck was found there Thursday. Road blocks were up throughout the area.

San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Jodi Miller said a stolen vehicle report from a residence was received at 12:20 p.m. local time.

The station reported it was in an area with vacation homes in the Big Bear community of San Bernardino County, a mountainous area east of Los Angeles.

San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies are calling for all available units to respond to an area of Highway 38, just south of Big Bear where a woman was found tied up and a suspect was fleeing the scene, according to sheriff's dispatchers on police scanners, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported.

Federal authorities earlier said they suspect that the former Los Angeles police officer wanted in connection with three killings has fled to Mexico, according to a federal criminal complaint.

The complaint was filed in federal court last week against Dorner, who has been on the run since embarking on what police allege is a revenge-driven shooting spree Feb. 6 in Southern California.

More than 1,000 tips have come in since Los Angeles offered a $1 million reward, raised from public and private sources.

The manhunt for Dorner, 33, began last Wednesday when he was named the suspect in the Orange County killings of a former Los Angeles police captain's daughter and her fiance the previous weekend.

Hours after police announced they were looking for him, Dorner allegedly fired at LAPD officers, then ambushed two Riverside officers, killing one.

An angry manifesto that police attributed to Dorner charges rampant racism in the LAPD and claims that he was wrongly dismissed for giving false evidence.

He vowed deadly revenge on those in the LAPD responsible for his firing years earlier, and their families. Police now are providing protection for some 50 families thought to be targets.

The search has been particularly urgent because of Dorner's U.S. Navy military training as a sharpshooter. He has also been trained in underwater warfare.

TMZ reported Monday that surveillance video showing a man fitting Dorner's description bought scuba gear at at sporting goods store in Torrance, Calif., two days before the killing spree began.

TMZ reported that police have obtained the video and quoted an unidentified law enforcement source as confirming that Dorner is the man shown in the footage.

TMZ quoted one law enforcement source as saying the video is significant because "it shows what he was up to."

The criminal complaint also says that authorities were tracking a Dorner associate identified only as "J.Y.," who had been spotted in Costa Mesa.

The manhunt, which has covered several states, focused at one point on a resort ski area 80 miles east of Los Angeles, after Dorner's burned-out pickup was found at Big Bear Lake.

The criminal complaint, filed Feb. 7, said that on that day, police spoke with a boat captain in San Diego who reported that a man fitting Dorner's description had subdued him and tried to steal a boat, telling the owner that he was taking it to Mexico, where it could be recovered. The suspect fled after the bow line of the boat got caught in its propeller and stalled.

The complaint also notes that Dorner's personal belongings, including his wallet and I.D. cards, were found near the U.S.-Mexico border at the San Ysidro Point of Entry. In addition, the complaint alleges, a man matching Dorner's description tried to gain access to the Point Loma naval base in San Diego.

Based on its evidence, Craig McClusky, of the U.S. Marshals Service, said in the complaint that there is "probable cause" to believe that Dorner has "moved and traveled in interstate and foreign commerce from California to Mexico with the intent to avoid prosecution."

Investigators raided the Hotel Tapatio in Tijuana Monday looking for Dorner, but turned up no evidence on the property concerning the fugitive, ABC10 in San Diego reported. More than 20 officers searched the hotel following a tip from the public. 


Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A law enforcement official says a person believed to be the fugitive ex-Los Angeles cop sought in three killings has exchanged gunfire with authorities in the San Bernardino Mountains.

The officer requested anonymity because the officer was not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing investigation.

The officer tells The Associated Press it's believed Christopher Dorner committed a residential burglary of a cabin and had a couple tied up in the cabin. One was able to get away and make a call.

Authorities responded to the location and gave chase Tuesday when Dorner fled in a stolen car. Gunfire was exchanged.

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