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Law Enforcement Denies Intentionally Setting Dorner Cabin Fire

Matt Pressberg |
February 13, 2013 | 7:36 p.m. PST

Executive Producer

The San Bernardino County Sheriff said his officers did not intentionally set the fire that burned down the cabin where it is presumed murder suspect Christopher Dorner was holed up. Charred remains have been found in the cabin near the Big Bear Lake resort area but have not been officially confirmed as Dorner’s, although the sheriff did declare the manhunt to be over.

Authorities denied intentionally igniting Dorner's cabin hideout. (Neon Tommy Screenshot)
Authorities denied intentionally igniting Dorner's cabin hideout. (Neon Tommy Screenshot)
As the L.A. Times reports, in a Wednesday afternoon press conference Sheriff John McMahon said Tuesday’s fire was caused by officers’ use of incendiary tear gas, after attempts to drive Dorner out of the cabin with conventional tear gas proved unsuccessful.

"'We did not intentionally burn that cabin to get Mr. Dorner out,' McMahon said."

Police radio communications from the standoff appear to reveal officers discussing the deployment of “burners” against Dorner, the Huffington Post reports. McMahon was asked about these recordings and responded by calling “burner” a colloquial term for the canisters of the incendiary tear gas used.

Dorner, a former LAPD officer and Navy lieutenant, was believed to have had several high-powered semi-automatic rifles. In the manifesto published on his Facebook page, Dorner also claimed to be in possession of a .50 caliber weapon, which would have the ability to shoot down small aircraft and hit targets over one mile away, making him extremely dangerous even when pinned to a confined location.

Although local and regional law enforcement had swarmed the mountains around Big Bear Lake after Dorner’s burning truck was discovered there last Thursday, the alleged killer had slipped through the wide net they had cast in the area. The cabin he was eventually located at, and had apparently hid out at for days, was mere yards away from a police command post set up to track him down. Officers claimed to have searched 600 cabins over an eight-square-mile area, according to the L.A. Times.

ALSO SEE: LAPD: ‘Many Lessons To Be Learned’ From Dorner Case

McMahon also used his press conference to identify the sheriff’s deputy who was shot and killed in the gunfight preceding the standoff as 35-year-old Det. Jeremiah MacKay, a 15-year veteran of the force. MacKay was a married father of two who attended Rim of the World High School, not far from the Big Bear area where he eventually lost his life, and his family is said to be well-known in area, according to the Huffington Post.

"'My condolences go out to the MacKay family,' said San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon. 'This is truly another sad day for law enforcement. Our department is grieving from this event. It's just a terrible deal for all of us.'"

While McMahon could not give unequivocal confirmation that Dorner died in the cabin, he expressed his belief that the murder investigation had come to an end.

Read more of Neon Tommy’s coverage of Christopher Dorner here.

Reach Executive Producer Matt Pressberg here.



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