Deadly Manhunt That Captivated America Appears to be Over© REUTERS/ Gene Blevins
Deadly Manhunt That Captivated America Appears to be Over© AFP 2013/ Joe Klamar
February 13 (RIA Novosti) - A frenzied, nine-day search for a former Los Angeles police officer whose alleged deadly vendetta against policemen on a hit list captured America’s attention with non-stop media coverage appears to have ended with the suspect’s death in a fiery burst of gunfire and flames, much of it played out before a national television audience Tuesday night.
Word that the 33-year-old suspect, Christopher Dorner, had fled on foot to a cabin in a wooded area of the Southern California mountains on Tuesday and was exchanging gunfire with police sent media helicopters into the air to get pictures of the scene, including flames leaping from the cabin.
On the ground, a local CBS news crew managed to get within roughly 200 feet (61 meters) of the cabin, close enough that gunfire and the sound of officers yelling at him to leave could be heard in a cellphone report from the scene.
“I see a team of sheriff’s deputies in full-on fatigues with weapons drawn running toward us right now. We are down on the ground behind the wheels of our car right now,” said KCAL reporter Carter Evans.
“We got authorities yelling at us to get out of here, but we don’t know where to go, frankly,” he said, and added, “We’re staying here, we don’t want to get caught in the crossfire ourselves.”
A police audio clip filled with expletives was broadcast on police scanners and captured by media outlets. Officers could be heard discussing a plan to burn the cabin down.
“Burn it down!” said an unidentified man.
The drama played out Tuesday night as US President Barack Obama delivered his nationally televised State of the Union address, including an emotional plea to end gun violence in America, with news updates from California posted on the bottom of the screen as Obama talked.
News that a charred body had been found inside the cabin spilled over into television analysis of Obama’s speech moments after he finished talking.
It was a fiery end to a story that began Feb. 3, when the daughter of a retired police captain and her fiancé were found dead in a car and police identified Dorner as the suspect in the murders. That set in motion a killing spree and a massive manhunt that terrorized the area and the law enforcement community.
What might have been a local crime story prompted exhaustive national media coverage several days later when Dorner posted a lengthy manifesto on Facebook in which police said he implicated himself in the murders and threatened a long list of others he felt were responsible for his 2009 dismissal from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).
Police said Dorner, an African American, was angry about what he thought was racial discrimination that led to his dismissal from the LAPD.
"You're going to see what a whistleblower can do when you take everything from him especially his NAME!!!" he said in the Facebook posting. "You have awoken a sleeping giant."
More than 50 families were put under round-the-clock protection.
By the time one police officer was killed and two others injured in a brief exchange of gunfire with someone thought to be Dorner on Feb. 7, the story of the disgruntled ex-cop on an alleged killing spree was dominating national news, and Dorner was dubbed by some media outlets as “the most wanted man in America.”
Authorities turned to the media for help, pleading with Dorner to turn himself in.
Los Angeles police department commander Andrew Smith urged Dorner to "stop the bloodshed."
Even actor Charlie Sheen – whose own troubled personal life has made headlines in the past – pleaded with Dorner to call him, saying, “Let’s figure out together how to end this thing.”
Dorner’s Facebook message indicates he expected to die in a violent standoff with police.
Authorities believe the remains from the cabin are his, but said it may be several days before the identity of the body is confirmed.
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