Still A Sense Of Tension In San Bernardino Mountains After Shootout

Feb 13, 2013
Originally published on February 13, 2013 9:44 pm



It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.


I'm Robert Siegel. And we begin this hour in Southern California, where there are more questions than answers about yesterday's gun battle between police and a man thought to be Christopher Dorner. Dorner is the former LAPD officer who's been on the run. He's accused of setting out on a killing spree to avenge his dismissal from the force, and he's blamed for the deaths of four people in the past week.

The manhunt for Dorner culminated yesterday in a standoff and exchange of gunfire and then a fire at a mountain cabin. But there's still no official confirmation that it was Dorner's body that was pulled from the charred rubble. NPR's Kirk Siegler is with us from Angelus Oaks in the San Bernardino Mountains and Kirk, law enforcement won't say for sure that it was Dorner in the cabin. What are they saying? It seems clear that it was he, no?

KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: Yes, Robert. I mean, all sign are pointing to the fact that that was Christopher Dorner in there. But law enforcement are waiting for a positive ID after a forensic analysis on the body they pulled out of the burn site before they'll give a definitive answer. Now, we are getting reports that Christopher Dorner's ID may have been recovered up there and some of his personal belongings. I need to stress, though, that those are unconfirmed at this point.

We may get more information later today at the next scheduled briefing, but it may also take a couple of days. We just don't know at this point.

SIEGEL: What more have you learned about that incident yesterday and, for that matter, the days that led up to it?

SIEGLER: Robert, we're starting to piece together some of details about the events leading up to what culminated as a big fire at the cabin. You know, it appears there was a tense several-hours-long standoff between Dorner and literally hundreds of law enforcement officers who surrounded the cabin, hundreds of rounds of gunfire apparently went off. Deputies tried to break through windows at one point to get into the structure.

They also fired off tear gas and there are new reports from the L.A. Times today that some of that gas that was lobbed at the cabin was highly flammable. And there are also some statements from witnesses about what was evidently at times an epic car chase down the hill coming toward us, but overall there are still of lots outstanding questions, as you say, about what went down up there.

SIEGEL: Now, the Big Bear area, where you are, is, I gather, about 80 miles from Los Angeles, a very small place. What are people there saying about this ordeal?

SIEGLER: Well, we're hearing that some people are certainly ready for life to get back to normal after a tense few days. But there's still a sense of tension up here. One of those people I spoke to was Amy Ruiz. She and her mom clean vacation cabins up in the area where Dorner was believed to have been holed up.

AMY RUIZ: I won't feel easy until they confirm what happened and it was - you know, yeah, it was him but until they confirm that he passed or they have him in handcuffs, I will not be calm.

SIEGLER: So overall, Robert, of course, there is still some tension up here and some nerves, as you just heard, but there's also a real sense that this whole saga is wrapping up and a real sense of relief.

SIEGEL: Now, in addition today, Kirk, there was a funeral for a Riverside police officer, the man who was killed allegedly by Christopher Dorner last week.

SIEGLER: Yes. Today, Michael Crane being remembered at a very well-attended funeral, a military salute, bagpipes played. He was remembered as a trusted colleague, a former Marine, a father. Friends of his and his wife spoke at the funeral, telling stories, getting very emotional. There, of course, will be more memorials, including for the San Bernardino sheriff's deputy killed up here yesterday in that shootout with Christopher Dorner.

SIEGEL: OK. Thank you, Kirk.

SIEGLER: You're welcome, Robert.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Kirk Siegler, speaking to us from the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.