Christopher Dorner was reportedly burned to death by San Bernadino County Sheriffs in a cabin on February 13, 2013. He was subjected to a manhunt for several weeks., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Christopher Dorner fire was not intentional, say police
Sheriff's office confirms pyrotechnic teargas canisters were launched into cabin but 'we didn't intend to burn it down'
Rory Carroll in Los Angeles
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 13 February 2013 21.42 EST
Police have confirmed they started the blaze that engulfed Chris Dorner's cabin but said the use of pyrotechnic canisters had not been intended to cause a fire.
"It was not on purpose. We didn't intentionally burn down that cabin to get Mr Dorner out," John McMahon, a spokesperson for San Bernardino sheriff's department, told a news conference on Wednesday night.
The admission followed speculation and controversy over whether authorities started the blaze to trap and kill a fugitive who had killed four people and terrorised police in a bloody vendetta against California's law enforcers.
Forensic scientists have not yet positively identified the human remains recovered from the cabin following Tuesday's siege but McMahon said his department had little doubt they belonged to Dorner, 33, a former LAPD officer. "We believe that this investigation is over at this point."
The LAPD stood down from high alert and resumed regular policing, marking the end of a week-long drama of shootouts, chases and the biggest US manhunt in living memory.
Riverside police buried officer Michael Crain, 34, a father of two gunned down last week, to the accompaniment of bagpipes after a funeral cortege was led by police motorcycles.
The San Bernardino sheriff's department named the deputy who died in Tuesday's siege as Jeremiah MacKay, 35, a married veteran of the force with a seven-year-old daughter and four-month-old son.
Witnesses filled in details of Dorner's dramatic bid to escape the mountains of San Bernardino, where he had holed up for five days, but key questions were left unanswered.
A sheriff's department spokesman declined to explain how deputies missed Dorner while he hid apparently for five days in a cabin five minutes' walk from the command centre that was used to direct a dragnet of 200 officers.
In desperation authorities drummed up a $1m reward for information leading to his capture, thought to be the largest bounty in California's history.
The search around the mountains east of LA had been winding down on Tuesday when two housekeepers entered the cabin. Dorner tied them up and made off in a stolen purple Nissan. One of the housekeepers freed herself and alerted authorities.
Fish and wildlife department officers intercepted the vehicle and gave chase. Dorner shot and hit their vehicle but caused no injuries. He crashed, then commandeered a silver Dodge Ram pick-up belonging to Angelus Oaks resident Rick Heltebrake. Dorner pointed a rifle at Heltebrake's head and ordered him out.
"I did not feel like he wanted to hurt me," said the local camp ranger. "It was clear I wasn't part of his agenda and there were other people down the road that were part of his agenda. Unfortunately he found them and now we have one less sheriff's deputy in San Bernardino."
Dorner briefly shook off his pursuers by overtaking two school buses and leaving the highway, said Patrick Foy, a spokesman with the fish and wildlife department, but other units found him after he again crashed. He fled on foot to the nearest rental cabin and was swiftly surrounded.
Swat teams lobbed traditional teargas canisters into the cabin but as Dorner kept firing they switched to pyrotechnic ones. "It does generate a lot of heat. We introduced those canisters into the residence and a fire erupted," said McMahon. Such devices were called burners, he said.
The spokesman's insistence that the blaze was not intentional appeared to be put in question by an exchange between deputies at the scene during the scene. The exchange was heard on a police scanner and published by the journalist Max Blumenthal.
"We're gonna go ahead with the plan with the burner. Like we talked about," said one deputy. Minutes later another deputy's voice said: "The burner's deployed and we have a fire." Social media buzzed with claims that police had sought to burn Dorner alive.