Big Bear Lake, CA, February 16, 2013 — During a press conference Friday, multiple authorities recapped the previous eight days of the Christopher Dorner investigation.
San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon expressed pride in the heroic efforts of peace officers who put themselves in imminent danger to protect the public and each other, and thanked the allied law enforcement agencies who provided essential support during the incident. He also explained the delay of local deputies in positively identifying the truck found on forestry road 2n10 on February 7, saying they were wisely reluctant to go into what could have been ambush situation. Instead, they waited for a tactical team that included reinforcements from off the mountain.
“I don’t believe we made any mistakes at this point. Our deputies and the SWAT team performed their search flawlessly during heavy snow. They did not give up, they continued through the night, and if we hadn’t sent them home, they would’ve continued until they dropped,” said McMahon.
As for the condominium complex owned by the Reynolds family, where Dorner found shelter, McMahon explained he had not authorized deputies to force entry into residences that showed no signs of a break-in. Reports are that when sheriff’s deputies checked the residence Thursday evening, the door was found locked and no one inside responded to attempts at contact. Law enforcement did not get word until February 12 of the fact that the unit had been unlocked for several days during the search.
Captain Gregg Herbert stepped up to elaborate on the tactics used during the deadly confrontation at the Seven Oaks cabin, in particular. According to Herbert, deputies responding to the scene found tracks in the snow in front of the cabin where Dorner had taken refuge. Dep. Alex Collins, Det. Jeremiah Mackay and other officers were consulting on a plan when Dorner began firing at them, striking Collins and Mackay multiple times. The other deputies returned fire while dodging an onslaught of bullets and attempting to rescue the injured men. Specialized SWAT personnel arriving to assist were also met with rapid fire. Once the injured deputies were extracted, SWAT personnel gave several verbal commands for Dorner to exit the cabin and surrender. With no response from the suspect, cold gas was deployed into the cabin, but Dorner continued to fire at their every movement. Tactical decisions were made with the intention of forcing his surrender. The home was destroyed after officers fired pyrotechnic tear gas containers known as “burners” into the building. Adding to a series of close calls with the fugitive, owners of the burned-down cabin said just two days prior, relatives had been staying there.
Sgt. Trevis Newport addressed the arsenal of weapons Dorner had at his disposal. Newport said they recovered numerous high-capacity magazines, large amounts of ammunition, numerous canisters of CS gas and smoke; tactical style load-bearing vest; and multiple assault rifles equipped with suppressors; 308 caliber bolt action rifle, equipped with scope and suppressor; semi-automatic hand guns; and a military-style Kevlar helmet. What remains to be answered is how Dorner was able to move undetected from the crash site to the Club View cabin with such a large cache of weapons.
Capt. Kevin Lacy revealed that the autopsy conducted by the Riverside County Coroner’s Division determined the cause of death to be a single gunshot wound to the head. It is suspected to be self-inflicted, but the manner of death is still officially under investigation.