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Still A Sense Of Tension In San Bernardino Mountains After Shootout


It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.


I'm Robert Siegel. And we begin this hour in Southern California, where we're getting new information about yesterday's gun battle between police and a man assumed to be Christopher Dorner. Dorner is the former LAPD officer who's been on the run. He's accused of setting out on a killing spree to avenge his dismissal from the force, and he's blamed for the deaths of four people in the past week.

The manhunt for Dorner culminated yesterday in a standoff, an exchange of gunfire, and then a fire at a mountain cabin. NPR's Kirk Siegler is with us from San Bernardino, California, where law enforcement just gave a briefing. And Kirk, did you get any confirmation that this was indeed Christopher Dorner?

KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: Oh, we still don't have that final confirmation, but Robert, we had the clearest indication- you bet - just now from the San Bernardino County sheriff's office that this was Christopher Dorner holed up in the cabin. The sheriff telling us that this manhunt, one of the largest in California's history, is now over.

SIEGEL: Well, what more are we learning about that incident yesterday and, for that matter, the days that led up to it?

SIEGLER: Well, after this just most-recent briefing, we're able to piece together a few more details, Robert, especially about the fire at the cabin. Authorities just told us that that fire was not set on purpose. Police did use two types of tear gas during the incident, trying to get Dorner out of the cabin where he was holed up. At least one of those was quite flammable, but authorities said several times during this really brief, ten-minute news conference that they did not intentionally set the fire to try and get Dorner out of there.

We're also getting more details about this chase through the mountains, that Dorner yesterday stole a vehicle. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife chased him. That vehicle crashed; he then carjacked another vehicle and ended up fleeing that vehicle at some point and then heading on foot to this vacant cabin, and that's, of course, when the shootout unfolded and the really chaotic scene, as San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon just described moments ago.

JOHN MCMAHON: It was like a war zone. And our deputies continued to go into that area and try to neutralize and stop the threat. The rounds kept coming, but our deputies didn't give up.

SIEGLER: ...authorities also released the name of the San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy who was killed in yesterday's shootout. He is 35-year-old Jeremiah MacKay. They had his photo up on display at the news conference just now.

SIEGEL: Now, Kirk, the Big Bear area is, I guess, about 80 miles from Los Angeles; it's a very small place. What are people there saying about this?

SIEGLER: It's small, very tight-knit. It's a resort community, a mountain community. It's been a very tense few days for a lot of people living up there. I spent most of the past day in the tiny village of Angelus Oaks, where some residents were still on edge, and they said they would still be until authorities definitively announced that Dorner was the one who was in the burned-down cabin.

You know, after all, the investigation was revealing he was hiding out in the area for several days undetected. You can imagine some anxiety there. But you know, I spoke to others who said the community is resilient and used to tragedies and will get past this one.

SIEGEL: Now, we should just mention also today, there was a funeral for the Riverside, California police officer who was killed last week, allegedly by Christopher Dorner.

SIEGLER: Yes. Michael Crane being remembered at a very well-attended funeral, very emotional funeral, stories told; his wife speaking, and friends of his. It was quite a service.

SIEGEL: OK. Thank you, Kirk.

SIEGLER: You're welcome, Robert.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Kirk Siegler, speaking to us from San Bernardino, California. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Kirk Siegler
As a correspondent on NPR's national desk, Kirk Siegler covers rural life, culture and politics from his base in Boise, Idaho.
Prior to his retirement, Robert Siegel was the senior host of NPR's award-winning evening newsmagazine All Things Considered. With 40 years of experience working in radio news, Siegel hosted the country's most-listened-to, afternoon-drive-time news radio program and reported on stories and happenings all over the globe, and reported from a variety of locations across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia. He signed off in his final broadcast of All Things Considered on January 5, 2018.

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