[UPDATED with Gunshot Likely Killed Him:] Christopher Jordan Dorner was the Man in Burned-Down Cabin: Coroner
See the update at the bottom of page 2 on the belief that a single gunshot killed the suspect, the San Bernardino County sheriff defending his deputies and the latest on the reward.
ORIGINAL POST, FEB. 14, 10:56 A.M.: Had Christopher Jordan Dorner lived and been taken into custody, the Orange County district attorney's office (OCDA) would have sought the death penalty against him for the murders of Monica Quan and Keith Lawrence in Irvine two Sundays ago, according to a joint statement issued this morning by the OCDA and Irvine Police Department (IPD).
Both agencies vowed to continue their investigation and release a report at an undisclosed date with the findings.
What devolved into a national nightmare began when the bodies of the engaged Quan and Lawrence were found shot to death in the parking structure of their Irvine condo complex. Quan was the daughter of an LAPD captain and the lawyer the police union retained to defend Dorner in the disciplinary process that led to his firing. Dorner's infamous manifesto posted online a day after the grisly discovery accuses Randal Quan of protecting the LAPD's interests over his.
"Between Feb. 3, 2013, and the present, the OCDA and IPD have prepared, reviewed and executed multiple search warrants related to the investigation, including the defendant's social-networking pages, residences and cell phones," reads today's statement. "On Feb. 6, 2013, the OCDA provided legal analysis and investigation strategy and signed an arrest warrant, prepared by IPD. The arrest warrant was signed by the court authorizing the arrest of Dorner for the murders of Quan and Lawrence.
"Extensive evidence was gathered by IPD and other law-enforcement agencies, and the OCDA prepared a criminal complaint against Dorner on Feb. 8, 2013, after determining that he would be proven guilty of the murders of Quan and Lawrence.
"The criminal complaint against Dorner included two felony counts of murder with special-circumstance allegations for lying in wait and for committing multiple murders, and an additional sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death. These charges carry a minimum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole. The OCDA would likely have sought the death penalty in this case.
"In the interest of public safety, and for tactical and investigative purposes, the OCDA made the legal determination to wait to file the criminal charges against Dorner until he was arrested and taken into custody. This decision was reviewed and discussed daily, and the OCDA was prepared to file a case against the defendant on a moment's notice should he have been apprehended or new developments in the case deemed it appropriate.
"From the date of the murders of Quan and Lawrence, IPD and the OCDA have been in constant communication and have been working together on the investigation and legal review. The investigation and legal review are ongoing, and a report will be issued and made available to the media and public upon completion of the investigation."
Nancy Dorner, the mother of Chris Dorner, released a statement on behalf of her family:
It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we express our deepest sympathies and condolences to anyone that suffered losses or injuries resulting from Christopher's actions. We do not condone Christopher's actions. The family has no further comment and asks that our privacy be respected during this difficult time.
The La Palma resident, who has been cooperating with police investigators, was seen drinking white wine and eating chips and salsa Tuesday afternoon at her neighborhood La Capilla Mexican Restaurant, at a table in front of a big screen showing live coverage of a Big Bear-area cabin being incinerated with her son presumably inside.
KCBS/KCAL TV reporter Michele Gile was on her way to Nancy Dorner's home when she ducked into La Capilla for a tinkle. Noticing two women sitting in the bar area watching her station's broadcast from Big Bear, she asked if either knew Chris Dorner and they shook their heads no. Gile then mentioned the suspect's mother lives in La Palma before making her way back to her news van at Nancy Dorner's home.
Ten minutes later, from the street in front of Nancy Dorner's home, she watched one of the women she had spoken with at La Capilla pull into the driveway and walk inside, as though she owned the place. That's because she does; it was Chris Dorner's mom.
"Right after you left," La Capilla bartender Joseph Munoz later told Gile, "she started asking me questions, like if I knew [Dorner] . . . what I know about him . . . stuff like that. She was watching the TV, but she wasn't really concerned about it. She was busy talking to her friend, like it was just an everyday thing."
Speaking of interesting video, listen hard around the 40-second mark of this one:
Yes, that's one of the deputies trying to smoke Dorner out of the Angelus Oaks cabing yelling, "Burn that motherfucker!" You've got to love the anchorwoman's understated follow-up: "Police officers . . . understandably . . . upset . . ."
The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department has been criticized for firing pyrotechnic tear gas nicknamed "hot gas" into the wood cabin, enough so that Sheriff John McMahon defended the tactic at a press conference Wednesday, saying the blaze that followed was unintentional.
His department has also defended itself against criticism that it did not simply wait Dorner out instead of escalating the inevitable through the gassing, thousands of rounds of gunfire and heavy machinery used to tear down cabin walls, stating Dorner had by then killed four people and it did not want to wait around for him to slay more.
Critics have also taken pot shots at the mountain manhunt, especially since it turned out Dorner had holed up in a condo mere steps from the sheriff's Bear Mountain command center. Some have even accused the sheriff of refusing to allow more boots on the ground from eager members of other law-enforcement agencies, noting that had it been an 8-year-old little girl missing in the woods, thousands of cops would have been gladly welcomed to join the search. The sheriff's department says it conducted a thorough search, even of that condo complex, but decided to only go inside those units and cabins that showed signs of forced entry.
Speaking of the condo, remember how it was a couple Dorner tied up before, in the fog of the chase, they became two women and, finally, two female housekeepers? Husband and wife Jim and Karen Reynolds have come forward to say it was them and that they own the condo.
With the heavy drama apparently over, the Big Bear community is exhaling an huge sigh of relief.
"Our hearts go out to all law enforcement that put their lives on the line to protect Big Bear," Big Bear Lake Resort Association Board President Joyce Reed says in a statement. "We are especially mournful for the deputy who lost his life during this tragic incident, and we send our deepest, heartfelt sympathy to the deputy's family."
Highways 18 and 330 to Big Bear are open with no restrictions, while Highway 38 is open only to residents of Valley of the Falls, Mountain Home Village and Angeles Oaks, as the investigation continues.
UPDATE, FEB. 14, 5:04 P.M.: Using dental records, the San Bernardino County coroner's office has reportedly confirmed the remains pulled out of a burned-down Big Bear area were Christopher Jordan Dorner's, the Associated Press and KABC/Channel 7 news report.
That would officially end Southern California's week-long nightmare.
That county's sheriff's department previously identified the deputies shot multiple times by Dorner in a firefight at the Angelus Oaks cabin as Detective Jeremiah MacKay, 35, a 15-year department veteran who was killed; and Deputy Alex Collins, who was struck by six wounds, has undergone multiple surgeries but is expected to survive.
UPDATE, FEB. 15, 5:03 P.M.: San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon says a single gunshot wound likely killed Dorner, whose body was later charred in a dramatic cabin fire.
McMahon cautioned medical examiners cannot be 100 percent sure the gunshot, like the one deputies and a reporter on the ground say they heard as Dorner was being closed in on, killed him.
The sheriff also praised his deputies on the ground, saying no other officers could have acted better than they did.
He explained trackers did not find him in a condo near the sheriff's command center because the owner left the door unlocked for a maintenance man and Dorner entered, locked the door behind him and did not answer when deputies going door-to-door called inside before moving on.
McMahon also again defended the use of "burner" or "hot gas" to try to smoke Dorner out of the second cabin, reiterating that the resulting fire was unintentional.
Meanwhile, the city of Los Angeles, which had offered a $1 million reward for the arrest and capture of Dorner, seems to be stepping farther away from responsibility for a possible payout, saying that will be up to the entities that actually put up the money. A man who called a deputy friend after Dorner carjacked his truck believes he deserves the reward because no one expected the suspect to make it out of Big Bear alive, especially given his manifesto.
The fellow says he would be willing to split a windfall 50-50 with whomever of the two condo owners called 9-1-1 after Dorner left with their Nissan, and he vowed to use the reward money for good.
CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS BREAKING CHRIS DORNER COVERAGE
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss OC Weekly's biggest stories. Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts