BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif. — Police scoured mountain peaks for days, using everything from bloodhounds to helicopters with high-tech equipment in their manhunt for a revenge-seeking ex-cop. They had no idea he was so close, possibly holed up in a vacation cabin across the street from their command post.
It was there that Christopher Dorner might have taken refuge last Thursday, four days after beginning a deadly rampage that claimed four lives.
The search ended Tuesday when a man believed to be Dorner bolted from hiding, stole two cars, barricaded himself in another vacant cabin miles away and mounted a last stand in a furious shootout in which he killed one sheriff's deputy and wounded another before the building erupted in flames.
He never emerged from the ruins, and hours later a charred body was found in the basement of the burned cabin along with a wallet and personal items, including a California driver's license with the name Christopher Dorner, an official briefed on the investigation said.
The coroner's office is studying the remains to positively determine the identity. It was not clear how the cabin caught fire.
Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Andrew Neiman said Wednesday the agency had returned to normal patrol operations but about a dozen of the more than 50 protective details guarding possible Dorner targets would remain in place until the remains are positively identified.
This really is not a celebration, he said.
Neiman would not answer any questions regarding what occurred in the mountains of San Bernardino County the previous day.
Dorner, 33, had said in a lengthy rant that police believe he posted on Facebook last week that he expected to die in one final, violent confrontation with police.
San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon on Wednesday identified the deputy killed in Tuesday's shootout as Jeremiah MacKay, 35.