Big Bear Lake (California), Feb. 13: Investigators will begin today to determine whether charred human remains found in a burned-out cabin here are those of Christopher J. Dorner, the former Los Angeles police officer sought in the region's largest manhunt.
Dorner is believed to have been inside the cabin as it burned down around him after the authorities pinned him down inside.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office said late yesterday that identification of the remains "will be attempted through forensic means" ' although investigators say there is little doubt they belong to Dorner.
"We believe he was still inside the cabin" when it went up in flames," Cindy Bachman, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office, said earlier during a news conference in Angelus Oaks, 9.7km from the scene.
Dorner, a self-described survivalist, had holed up in the rental cabin hours earlier and engaged deputies in a shootout, killing one deputy and wounding a second.
The dramatic chain of events, which included hostage taking and a chase in vehicles and on foot, played out in the sun-dappled, snowy San Bernardino Mountains.
It was unclear how the fire at the cabin began, but the authorities said that no one escaped the blaze and that Dorner was believed to be alone inside. Officers, shouting orders through loudspeakers for Dorner to surrender, heard what they believed to be a single gunshot from within.
News organisation widely reported that Dorner's body was found in the building, but a spokesman from the Los Angeles Police Department said last evening that they did not have the body.
Even after officers retrieve the body, it could take days or weeks to identify it, officials said. Bachman said in an evening news conference: "We believe that he was still inside the cabin," but that it was not safe to enter because of the heat.
Both the suspect and the police were believed to have used smoke grenades during the shootout. The two deputies who were shot were airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center.