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Charred remains positively ID'd as ex-L.A. cop

Feb. 15, 2013 - 06:15AM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 15, 2013 - 06:15AM  |  
Christopher Dorner
Christopher Dorner (Los Angeles Police Department via AP)
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BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif. — The burned remains found in the ashes of a Southern California mountain cabin have been positively identified as fugitive former Los Angeles police officer Christopher Dorner, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said Thursday.

Dorner's dental records were used to make the identification, said spokeswoman Jodi Miller.

She did not provide a cause of death.

Authorities and reporters heard a single gunshot late Tuesday afternoon as the 1920s-era cabin in nearby Seven Oaks burned after SWAT officers fired pyrotechnic tear-gas "burners" inside and tore down its walls. Sheriff John McMahon said Wednesday that his deputies "did not intentionally burn down that cabin to get Mr. Dorner out."

Law enforcement officials had cornered the 33-year-old Dorner in the cabin, where he retreated after stealing two vehicles and trading gunfire with state game wardens. He then killed one deputy and wounded another in a firefight that McMahon described as being "like a war zone."

Despite the lack of confirmation about the body, authorities expressed confidence Tuesday night and Wednesday that the remains were Dorner's.

"We believe the investigation is over at this point." McMahon said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

The cabin's owners, Jim and Karen Reynolds, said they, not two housekeepers as widely reported, had discovered Dorner, a former Navy reservist, when they visited their unoccupied apartment unit Tuesday morning.

"We happened to walk in on him," Karen Reynolds said Wednesday night. "He tried to calm us down, saying very frequently he would not kill us."

The couple said Dorner tied them up, put washcloths in their mouths, used a cord to tie pillowcases over their heads and told them to keep quiet while he fled in their car. They said after he had been gone about a minute, they broke free and were able to contact authorities.

"You could tell he was professionally trained," Karen Reynolds said of Dorner, who was fired from the Los Angeles Police Department in 2009 after he was found to have falsely accused his training officer of police brutality.

In an online manifesto he had vowed revenge on LAPD and dozens of others. By the time he died, Dorner was accused of murdering two law enforcement officials and wounding four others. He was also suspected of having murdered the daughter of a former LAPD captain involved in Dorner's dismissal and her fiancé.

Who gets credit for finding Dorner is crucial for Los Angeles officials handling the $1 million reward offered from public and private sources.

Thursday night, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck addressed that issue.

"More than 20 jurisdictions and entities are involved in this reward, so all of them will be coming together to collectively determine whether any individual or individuals qualify for it," they said in a statement. "Our personal hope is that the reward will be distributed, but we must follow the rules and respect the procedures of each entity."

Contributing: William M. Welch in Los Angeles and John Bacon in McLean, Va.

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