BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif. - Efforts continued Wednesday to identify charred human remains found in a burned-out mountain cabin where a fired Los Angeles police officer was believed to have engaged in a deadly gun battle with law enforcement, but the San Bernardino County sheriff said he was convinced the manhunt has ended.
LOOK BACK: Dorner standoff timeline
SOCIAL MEDIA: Reaction to Dorner standoff
"We believe that this investigation is over at this point, and we'll just need to move on from here," Sheriff John McMahon told reporters at the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department headquarters.
Although the remains had not yet been forensically identified as 33-year-old fugitive Christopher Jordan Dorner, the LAPD lifted the tactical alert that had been in place almost daily during the manhunt. But about a dozen LAPD families threatened in a manifesto allegedly posted online by Dorner last week will continue to receive special protection.
"The LAPD has now moved back into a normal state of police operation," LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman, a department spokesman, said at a briefing at LAPD headquarters. "That began late last night, and will continue now as far as ... normal patrol operations."
But Neiman said the protective details "will remain in place until the department and the protectees feel safe."
Neiman noted that investigations were continuing into whether Dorner had any accomplices. He said it was not yet known if anyone would receive any of the $1 million reward money that had been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect.
Sources told The Associated Press that a California driver's license naming Christopher Dorner was also found in the burned-out cabin.
Dorner was being hunted in connection with the slayings of two people in Irvine and a Riverside police officer. During Tuesday's firefight in Big Bear, he allegedly fatally shot a San Bernardino County sheriff's detective, identified by McMahon as 35-year-old Jeremiah MacKay, a 15-year department veteran.
MacKay is survived by his wife, a 7-year-old daughter and 4-month-old son, McMahon said.
Another San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy, Alex Collins, was wounded, but "he's in good spirits and should make a full recovery," McMahon said.
"Those deputies were heroes. It was like a warzone; the bullets kept coming, but our deputies did not give up," McMahon added.
Dorner -- the subject of a six-day manhunt -- is believed to have been the man who stole one vehicle and carjacked another on Tuesday, sparking a pursuit that ended with a wild gun battle in the cabin on Seven Oaks Road just off Highway 38.
The cabin eventually caught fire after deputies fired tear gas canisters inside, and burned for several hours.
The inferno that consumed the cabin climaxed a wild day of violence in the normally tranquil mountain community, which had been the focus of the Dorner manhunt since his pickup truck was found burning in the area last Thursday.
At 12:20 p.m. Tuesday, San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies received a report of a man matching Dorner's description stealing a car from a cabin in the 1200 block of Club View Drive in Big Bear.
It was revealed Wednesday evening that a man and woman who own the cabin were tied up by a man matching Dorner's description.
Previous reports indicated that two female housekeepers had gone into the cabin and found someone matching Dorner's description inside.
The couple were not injured. It was unclear how long the suspect may have been hiding in the cabin, which was close to the law enforcement command post that had been established during the manhunt.
The cabin where Dorner was hiding had not been rented out since February 6, authorities said.
Dorner apparently crashed the vehicle a short time later, then carjacked a man's silver pickup truck -- without hurting him, the man said later. The carjacking victim, Rick Heltebrake, told reporters that Dorner was dressed in camouflage gear and carried what looked like a sniper-type rifle when he forced him out of his pickup truck, allowing him to take his dog from the vehicle.
During the pursuit, Dorner was spotted along Highway 38 by state Fish and Wildlife officers who began following the suspect. The suspect opened fire, striking the officers' vehicle, according to Fish and Wildlife Lt. Patrick Foy. The officers, who returned fired at the suspect, were not injured, he said.
The truck wound up crashed down an embankment, and the suspect fled on foot into the Seven Oaks cabin, beginning the lengthy firefight. The two sheriff's deputies who were shot during the battle were flown to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where MacKay died at 2:24 p.m.
During the standoff, law enforcement officers used a heavily armored vehicle to tear down walls of the cabin, then fired tear gas canisters into the building shortly after 4 p.m. By about 4:20 p.m., the cabin was engulfed in flames. Several reports indicated that a single gunshot was heard emanating from the cabin before it burned down. As the fire raged, the sound of exploding ammunition could be heard from inside.
McMahon explained that "cold" tear gas canisters were deployed into the cabin, followed by pyrotechnic canisters commonly referred to as "burners."
McMahon told reporters that the fire was not set on purpose, saying, "We did not intentionally burn down that cabin to get Mr. Dorner out."
McMahon said the cause of the fire is under investigation.
Eric Funnell's family owns the land and said the property has been there for more than 80 years. It was even used in a movie.
"We lost a cabin," Funnell said. "There's others that lost their lives, loved ones, husbands and fathers and things like that, so what we've lost is nothing compared to what other people have lost."
How the manhunt began
On Feb. 3, Dorner -- also a former Navy Reserve lieutenant -- allegedly gunned down the daughter and future son-in-law of an ex-police captain who represented him at a hearing that resulted in his dismissal from the LAPD. The bodies of 28-year-old Cal State Fullerton assistant women's basketball coach Monica Quan and her fiance, 27-year-old USC public safety Officer Keith Lawrence, were found in Lawrence's car in the parking structure of their Irvine condominium building.
The next day, Dorner allegedly posted a 6,000-word manifesto on Facebook, vowing to kill named LAPD officers and their families. About 50 Los Angeles police officers and their families were being protected during the manhunt, authorities said.
On Thursday, Dorner was allegedly involved in a shootout with Los Angeles police guarding an officer's home in Corona, leaving one officer with a graze wound to the head, police said. About 20 minutes later, he allegedly fired on a pair of Riverside police officers stopped at a red light, killing Officer Michael Crain, 34, and wounding the other, who was expected to recover.
Crain, an 11-year department veteran and ex-Marine, is survived by his wife, Regina, and two children, Ian, 10, and Kaitlyn, 4. His funeral was held Wednesday in Riverside.
The search for Dorner had been focused in the Big Bear area since Thursday afternoon, when his pickup truck -- apparently disabled by a broken axle -- was found burning in a wooded area. LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith, a department spokesman, said investigators were following up on 1,045 tips -- most generated after a $1 million reward for information leading to Dorner's capture and conviction was announced Sunday.
Law enforcement sources: Dorner made mistakes
Law enforcement sources told 10News Christopher Dorner may not have intentionally set his pickup truck on fire last week.
10News learned while Dorner was off-roading in the Big Bear area, a large rock in the snow broke his axle and punctured his gas tank, causing it to go up in flames. Sources said Dorner had no choice but to leave his camping gear and guns inside while he walked away.
Sources said tying up the owners of a Big Bear cabin may have been the beginning of the end for Dorner. Dorner stole their purple Nissan and took off, but one of victims was able to shimmy over to a cellphone and called 911.
Dorner abandoned the Nissan and carjacked Rick Heltebrake, sources said. Heltebrake said, "He pointed his gun at me and said, 'I don't want to hurt you. Just get out and start walking; take your dog.'"
Dorner was able to get away again, but when a Fish and Game warden spotted him, authorities said a shootout took place. At that point, sources said Dorner hid in a cabin where it all came to fiery end.
Sources told 10News that when Dorner was in San Diego last week, he made several missteps.
Sources said Dorner made the mistake of getting caught on surveillance video dumping his police equipment in a National City Dumpster. At a Navy hotel in Point Loma, Dorner looked directly into the camera. Then, he made a failed attempt to steal a boat at Shelter Island when a dock rope got stuck in the boat's propeller.
The 81-year-old boat owner who Dorner allegedly tied up told 10News, "He's dead, it's finished; good riddance."
Sources told 10News that before Dorner went to Big Bear, he left behind another trail of clues in San Diego when he lost his wallet and police badge near Lindbergh Field.
Reaction from locals in the area
There was a sense of relief for many who live in Anglus Oaks.
"We believe that the person that barricaded himself inside the cabin and engaged in gunfire with deputies and other law enforcement officers is still inside there even though the building burned," said Cindy Bachman.
Townsfolk hoped it was all over.
"I feel much better right now … I hope they got it," said Sam Godines, a resident in the area.
Some were not convinced, though, until there was absolute proof.
"I am but I won't be until it's for sure and they do have a body to go off of," said Amy Lupian.
It has been a rough time for folks living in the Big Bear area.
"My son had nightmares about Dorner," Lupian said.
A man familiar with the cabin said there was no place for Dorner to hide.
"No basement, it's all concrete slabs, there's no way in and out," said James Clary.
Authorities described how the final confrontation began with five Fish and Wildlife officers in pursuit.
"They were so close that [the officer] recognized his face," said Lt. Patrick Foy.
Foy was referring to the first set of gunfire that took place Tuesday. Another gun battle took place at the cabin.
An LA reporter who happened to be there covering the search for Dorner used his cellphone to record the gun battle outside of the cabin.
The video appears to show a person shooting back. Later, video shows smoke while the gunfire continues.
Moments later, police ran over and screamed at the reporter and his crew to get out of that area.
Two San Bernardino deputies were shot in that gun battle and one was killed.
Team 10 has learned investigators actually checked the cabin where Dorner was hiding but saw no reason to enter it for a more thorough search.
10News was told they were just looking in windows and knocking on doors to see if anything looked out of the ordinary, and they couldn't just break in if they had no probable cause.
Over the past few days teams searched nearly 600 homes and cabins around Big Bear.