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Alleged Calif. Gunman's Fate Unclear After Fire At Cabin

Police patrol a road block on Highway 38 into the Big Bear area where a shoot-out with suspected fugitive Christopher Dorner resulted in the death of one deputy in Angelus Oaks, Calif., on Tuesday.
Michael Nelson
Police patrol a road block on Highway 38 into the Big Bear area where a shoot-out with suspected fugitive Christopher Dorner resulted in the death of one deputy in Angelus Oaks, Calif., on Tuesday.

(This post was last updated at 11:13 p.m. ET.)

The Los Angeles Police Department has rejected news reports that a body was discovered at a mountain cabin in California's Big Bear area where the fugitive accused of killing four people had engaged law enforcement in a hours-long standoff.

"Any reports of a body being found are not true," Cmdr. Andrew Smith said at a news conference Tuesday night.

He said the cabin was still too hot to enter.

The latest development comes amid a day of twists in the manhunt for Christopher Dorner, the former LAPD officer who is accused of killing four people.

Law enforcement had earlier surrounded the cabin in which the suspect, believed to be Dorner, had barricaded himself. The cabin was on fire, and media reports said a single gunshot was heard as authorities moved to demolish it. News reports, citing unnamed sources, said a body had been recovered from the scene.

Here is the chain of events that led to Tuesday's developments, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department: The alleged fugitive stole a car from a home in the area. The homeowners identified him as Dorner. They were unharmed. The fugitive abandoned the vehicle when pursued by sheriff's deputies, and entered an empty, rental cabin. He exchanged gunfire with the deputies, and shot them. One of them died of his wounds at the Loma Linda University Medical Center. The other was wounded, and is in surgery. He is expected to survive.

This photo, released by the Irvine, Calif., Police Department shows suspect Christopher Dorner on surveillance video at an Orange County, Calif., hotel on Feb. 8.
/ AP/Irvine, Calif. Police Dept.
AP/Irvine, Calif. Police Dept.
This photo, released by the Irvine, Calif., Police Department shows suspect Christopher Dorner on surveillance video at an Orange County, Calif., hotel on Feb. 8.

Since Dorner allegedly first shot the two people last week, LAPD launched a massive, multi-state manhunt.

This is a breaking news story. We'll update as we get more.

Update at 11:13 p.m. ET. LAPD Refutes Report Of Body

At a news conference, Cmdr. Andrew Smith said: "Any reports of a body being found are not true."

He said the department will continue to provide protection to those believed to be Dorner's targets until a body is recovered and identified as Dorner.

Update at 10:10 p.m. ET. Body Found

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that police recovered a body at the cabin where Dorner had barricaded himself. It may take days to come up with a positive ID, the newspaper reported, citing a source.

Here's more from The Associated Press:

"A single gunshot was heard from within, and a charred body was found inside.

"If the man inside proves to be Christopher Dorner, as authorities suspect, the search for the most wanted man in America over the last week would have ended the way he had expected — death, with the police pursuing him."

Update at 8:54 p.m. ET. Single Gunshot Heard

Both the L.A. Timesand The Associated Press are now reporting that a single gunshot was heard as authorities moved into the cabin where Dorner is believed to be holed up.

Here's more from L.A. Times:

"According to a law enforcement source, police had broken down windows, pumped in tear gas and blasted a loud speaker urging Dorner to surrender. When they got no response, police deployed a vehicle to rip down the walls of the cabin 'one by one, like peeling an onion,' a law enforcement official said.

"By the time they got to the last wall, authorities heard a single gunshot, the source said. Then flames began to spread through the structure, and gunshots, probably set off by the fire, were heard.

"Dorner's body has not been found. The police search will be focused in the basement area, the source said."

Update at 8:22 p.m. ET. News Conference

Cindy Bachman, the spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, said law enforcement authorities have surrounded the cabin.

She also confirmed that one of the deputies shot by the fugitive is dead. The other is expected to survive.

"We're expecting a long night," she said.

Update at 7:33 p.m. ET. Cabin On Fire

The cabin in which California fugitive Christopher Dorner is reported to be holed up is on fire. It's unclear what has caused the fire, or where Dorner is.

Update at 7:23 p.m. ET. Sheriff's Deputy Dead

One of the sheriff's deputies allegedly shot by Christopher Dorner is dead, according to the Los Angeles Times and other media. Another deputy was wounded in the shootout near the cabin in the Big Bear area.

Update at 6:09 p.m. ET. 'Enough Is Enough':

Commander Andrew Smith, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department, says that what Dorner needs to do now is turn himself in.

"Enough is enough," Smith said a televised news conference minutes ago. "It's time to turn yourself in."

Smith repeated the information released by the San Bernardino Sheriff's office, but he added that two officers were shot during an exchange of fire with the suspect.

Smith also cautioned that while it's likely that this suspect is Dorner, "we can't confirms it's him ... until he's in handcuffs."

Update at 5:27 p.m. ET. A No-Fly Zone:

ABC News has a bit more detail on today's narrative:

"The suspect is believed to have broken into a home nearby and briefly taken two women hostage before stealing a car. Officials say the suspect crashed the vehicle and fled on foot before barricading himself in a cabin.

"The two women were evaluated by paramedics and were determined to be uninjured."

The FAA has also placed the area surrounding the cabin under a no-fly zone.

Update at 5:36 p.m. ET. Stolen Vehicle Leads To Search:

The San Bernardino Sheriff's office sent this report:

"On Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 12:22 p.m, deputies working the Big Bear area search for Christopher Dorner responded to the 1200 block of Club View Dr. for a reported stolen vehicle. The reporting party said the suspect took their vehicle and described the suspect as looking very similar to Dorner. Deputies immediately began a search on the ground and from the air for the vehicle.

"The vehicle was located at Hwy. 38 and Glass Rd. The suspect fled into the forest and barricaded himself inside a cabin. A short time later there was an exchange of gunfire between law enforcement and the suspect. Sheriff's SWAT is onscene.

"Two law enforcement officers are being airlifted to a local hospital with unknown injuries.

"Updates will be sent as new information becomes available."

Update at 5:15 p.m. ET. Barricaded In Cabin?:

The Associated Press and NBC News are reporting that a suspect thought to be Dorner is "barricaded in a cabin."

The AP quotes authorities and NBC News is quoting the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department.

Southern California Public Radio reports that "two deputies were shot in two separate gun battles."

Update at 4:49 p.m. ET. Dorner Tried To Flee To Mexico:

As we watch, this story, it's worth noting Korva's post from earlier in which she details an affidavit where police say they suspect Dorner was trying to flee to Mexico.

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Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.