Return to Transcripts main page
Ex-LAPD Cop Surrounded, One Deputy Killed in Shootout with Dorner
Aired February 12, 2013 - 19:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We are going to resume, obviously we are going to continue our breaking news coverage here on CNN. We're watching what's going on, a dramatic development in Southern California right now and we don't know the outcome is going to be.
Anderson is going to continue our coverage. Chris Cuomo is going to continue our coverage. I'll be back later for our "State of the Union" coverage tonight. We're working these multiple stories, a big night, major news developing out in Southern California.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And if you're just joining us, I'm Anderson Cooper here in Washington along with CNN's Chris Cuomo. We are watching what has been a very tense, very difficult and dynamic situation over the last several hours.
The headline at this moment, one sheriff's deputy is dead. That has been confirmed. Another has been shot. We're waiting for an update on that deputy's condition from the Loma Linda Medical Center, where they were airlifted earlier today.
Apparently both deputies shot as authorities were closing in on this cabin where Christopher Dorner had sought refuge after engaging in a shootout on a roadblock, essentially, earlier in the day.
This was a cabin nearby Highway 38 where that roadblock incident took place. One deputy apparently shot, again allegedly by Christopher Dorner, from inside that cabin. Then according to the "L.A. Times," a source telling the "Times" as Christopher Dorner exited the rear of the cabin, set off a smoke grenade, shot another deputy. Both those deputies were airlifted and one of them has died.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: What we're seeing right now, there's state, local and federal officials on site. There are a number of different assets in place depending on what the eventualities are they're planning for.
If the suspect again believed to be but not confirmed to be Christopher Dorner may or may not have hostages with him. That's why tactical response is very limited, but now it's getting to be dark. That's going to create an entire new set of tensions.
So this is very frustrating for people on the ground. This all began earlier, several hours ago, with a report of a carjacking and it led to this. We have heard from a local reporter who is at the scene and there was gunfire in the background and it went on, Anderson, for at least 35 second.
COOPER: We had a press conference from the LAPD just a short time ago. Here's some of what they said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMMANDER ANDREW SMITH, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: Today at about 12:22 p.m., San Bernardino sheriffs were in the hunt for Christopher Dorner up in the Big Bear area. They received a call of a stolen vehicle in the 1200 block of Club View Drive.
When they responded there, they received information from the person reporting that this stolen vehicle was stolen by an individual that appeared to be very similar to Christopher Dorner. They immediately conducted a ground and air search for this vehicle and were able to locate it at Highway 38 and Glass Road, where the suspect in the vehicle fled into the forest.
Shortly thereafter, this individual barricaded himself in one of the cabins there and an exchange of gunfire occurred. During that exchange of gunfire, two officers were injured. They have been airlifted to a local hospital. Right now their condition is unknown.
While everyone is very hopeful that this thing ends without any further bloodshed, we hope we can take this guy into custody and we hope that he doesn't hurt anybody else. We hope none of these officers was seriously injured, which we don't know at this point.
The best thing for him now would be to surrender and allow us to take him into custody and he can face the criminal justice system. There's a tremendous sense of apprehension among our officers here, concern about the officers that are up there and until this guy's in handcuffs and until he's in custody, none of the people in our department are going to rest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Hopefully, that is the outcome, no more killing. Mr. Dorner, if that is who is in the cabin, again, it has not been completely confirmed. He gets brought in, gets his chance at justice as well because simply, that's the way the system should work.
Now, the reporting shows us that earlier today, just to show how coordinated the response has been by law enforcement, state, local, federal officials, but the officers who may have initially spotted the suspect today were Fish and Wildlife and were joined by Andrew Hunan of Fish and Wildlife. He is the public information officer. Mr. Hunan, what can you tell us?
ANDREW HUNAN, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, FISH AND WILDLIFE (via telephone): Good afternoon. The best reports that we have is that that's in fact true, that the first contact with we believe to be Mr. Dorner was a game warden from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on a road in Big Bear.
CUOMO: Do you know the circumstances under which he did spot the suspect?
HUNAN: Right. To my understanding, the game warden was on a patrol in support of the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department. Mr. Dorner was driving in the opposite direction, or who we believed to be Mr. Dorner driving in the opposite direction. The game warden recognized what he thought would be the suspect. He stopped his vehicle, got out of the vehicle with his weapon drawn and exchanged gunfire initially with the suspect.
CUOMO: The two deputies who were involved in the shootout at this cabin, were those your deputies or local law enforcement, do you know?
HUNAN: No, as I understand, those were San Bernardino Sheriffs. This was a game warden who typically are in a vehicle by themselves off on the road, not at the cabin. It's separate incident as I understand it.
COOPER: Do you know how much advance notice you had or what the circumstances -- were you on the lookout for this white pickup? I understand where it was intercepted was a number of miles, was I believe if memory serves me correctly, 27 miles from where it was reported stolen. How much advance warning did you have to be on the lookout?
HUNAN: As I understand, there was not a lot. Our game wardens and our various wardens were asked to help with the San Bernardino Sheriffs in patrol. We have wardens who patrol that area regularly who are familiar with the landscape. It was a good place to be, right place at the right time.
COOPER: How difficult has it been for folks from the Fish and Wildlife and for all law enforcement over the last couple days because of the weather system that moved in here. This is obviously a large area to cover. How difficult has it been?
HUNAN: It is a large area, but our game wardens are familiar with the area. They have four wheel drive vehicles so they are very much familiar with the terrain and with survival techniques. So it wouldn't be anything out of the ordinary, but we are glad to help San Bernardino Sheriffs.
COOPER: And in terms of the shootout that preceded the intervention of this vehicle, there are early reports that he actually crashed his vehicle and then exited the vehicle. Is that your understanding?
HUNAN: I haven't been -- I'm not fully briefed on all the details yet on actually -- I'm on the plane on the way down there. For the moment, that's about all I can tell you from the Fish and Wildlife point of view.
CUOMO: Has Fish and Wildlife been a coordinated part of this investigation once it was learned that the suspect may be in the area that is somewhat remote?
HUNAN: It's my understanding they asked us to come in this weekend because of our local knowledge and we're happy to do that.
CUOMO: All right, thank you very much, Officer Hunan. We appreciate the information. It's great to hear that your deputies involved left unhurt. Thank you for the information. Please let us know if anything else comes up.
COOPER: Again, it has been a very dynamic situation just over the last several hours. And a situation which shows no sign of letting up as darkness begins to come to that area. Obviously, law enforcement is in place around this cabin and also in various perimeters all throughout this entire area.
As you see right there, traffic is slowing down to a halt along Highway 38 as vehicles, each vehicle is being searched by law enforcement, by local, state, federal law enforcement as well. Chris Welch is joining us now. Chris, where are you?
CHRIS WELCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are on the other side of the mountain where we were on earlier. Big Bear proper, the city and ski resort, we were talking about where he stole this car. We are now on the opposite side of that mountain.
So basically, we took Highway 38 around and I will show you, we came down from this way, down this road and we were basically stopped here. This is where they're stopping all median and all traffic at this point because it is just about two and a half miles down the other direction.
If we were to continue, two and a half miles down that way is where that cabin is where he is said to be barricaded, holed up, and pinned down. If you can take a look around, you can see this is not a heavily populated area. This is the back country here in the San Bernardino Mountains and you know, the vast wilderness that we are talking about here is quite large.
So you know, if there was by some odd chance for him to, you know, hide and run away somewhere, there is so much terrain, so many trees. This is what officers and search crews and SWAT teams have been dealing with for the last several days. They have been doing ground searches here in the snow, in the cold, and they have been doing air searches as well.
Those air searches, though, had stopped today, they kept it primarily to a ground search today, but this is where we are today, just a few miles away from what we believe to be Chris Dorner barricaded in a cabin.
COOPER: Chris, thanks very much for that update. We will obviously continue to check in with you as we have a number of folks, correspondents, really fanned out all throughout the region.
Joining Chris and I right now is a Jen (inaudible), "Time" reporter in Los Angeles. Jen, you have been looking into Chris Dorner's background, into what those who know him best have said about him. What are you hearing? UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via telephone): It's very difficult to find out what makes him tick and both law enforcement and mental health experts have been trying to figure that out. A lot of mental health experts believe he may have what's called a narcissistic personality disorder but it's hard to say. Is he well trained, is he off the rocker, it's hard to say what's making him tick right now.
CUOMO: Have you heard anything, this is Chris Cuomo, thank you for joining us, have you heard anything about in his past that he had sought help for mental health issues while he was an officer? Does anybody speak to that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one has verified that to me. I have spoken with people from his past, from his past with the Navy, ex- girlfriends as well as former friends and neighbors, and no one has mentioned that, which is part of the reason why this seemed to be so unpredictable.
CUOMO: Now as you are talking to us, we just want to tell our viewers that in a split screen right now, you will see traffic starting to move much more quickly. We're not sure what that means about what law enforcement is doing in this situation. Just to point it out on the picture.
As we're trying to understand what seems to be this confused, distinct personality, people so attracted to Dorner, saw him as smiling, happy, a good athlete, someone who loved his job, and trying to compare that to this situation, yes, I know they're telling you they don't get it but in your investigation, what's the best sense of what this is all about?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think what it's all about is a ticking time bomb underneath the surface. He was very upset with the firing from LAPD in 2009 and seems to have not expressed that, but underneath the surface was growing more and more and more bitter, until he cracked four years later.
It was so unpredictable because so much time elapsed. That's not to say he didn't have these tendencies before. In his manifesto itself he says from the very beginning, even in first grade, he felt a lot of bitterness towards other people and during his time at the LAPD, he had urges to be aggressive against other officers. It was something that was always there but not something you would really expect.
CUOMO: Did anybody give you any information to support the outrage that the suspect put forward about how he was right in this situation, how he was wrongfully fired? Were you able to find anything to support that? Because we had somebody review the case file for us and it was fairly clear from the documentation of the hearing that his claims seemed to be without merit, but have you learned anything else that might support his outrage?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The father of the man who was the sensor of that original case in 2007 where Dorner alleged that his training officer hit or kicked that man, that man's father did say, did tell a TV station, local TV station here, that his son did, in fact, report that he had been hit or been kicked, was in line with what Dorner has said.
Now, the LAPD didn't find that in their investigation so there are two different accounts there. It's hard to say which is true. The LAPD did reopen the investigation two days ago. It's unclear.
COOPER: That father had been -- the review board which ultimately got rid of Dorner from the police department, they were aware of the father's testimony. They just viewed it as hearsay, correct?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. That's what they concluded. The father did say on the air this week that he did hear his son say that. I was not able to get in touch with the father directly so I can't comment further on that.
COOPER: I know also according to this review board, they felt that the man who alleged that he had been kicked by the female officer, which Dorner was partnered with and Dorner also said this female officer kicked this person, was I believe schizophrenic and therefore viewed as an unreliable witness.
And it really ended up becoming a he said/she said between Chris Dorner and his partner and but again, authorities say they will look more into it. I appreciate you talking with us.
(Inaudible) a "Time" reporter in Los Angeles who's been looking into the past of Chris Dorner, as so many of us have, over the last several days as we have been trying to understand what is going through this man's mind not just prior to this most recent incident.
But over the last several days, any clues that might help authorities try to figure out what his next move may be because he's really been -- they have been in a reactive mode over the last several days.
CUOMO: I think that's exactly right, Anderson. There seem to be two big reasons to look at this. One is we want to try to understand if this man was having mental health issues, if he was in pain, was there a point at which this could have been stopped, he could have been treated and wasn't, just to learn for other situations.
Then of course, there's also a lot of feeling about how this particular police department deals with citizens, deals with its own, and this story played into a lot of those fears, a lot of that anger. So it requires a real depth of skepticism not to glorify an individual who decides to kill in the name of any cause, but because of that existing environment, it requires more curiosity.
COOPER: And what you're looking at is a watch out there, Big Bear, California, where for the last several hours, all eyes really around the world have been trained, trying to figure out exactly what is happening inside that cabin that we have been showing you. Traffic now moving well. Looks like some of the roadblocks have been lifted. The roadblocks we have been watching cars being searched for the last several hours.
But let's just give you a sense of some of what we have heard over these last several hours. As you know, if you have been watching this coverage, all of this began hours ago when there was a report of a carjacking, a stolen vehicle. A white pickup truck that was stolen and then intercepted near a roadblock where shooting took place. Christopher Dorner, the suspect, was then said to have entered a nearby cabin, and that cabin is the cabin we have been showing you where authorities have now surrounded and are trying to basically assess what the situation may be inside, whether or not there's any hostages inside.
We have just heard recently some sound from a friend of the person who had their vehicle taken. Let's hear what they had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said he was in full camos, armed, pointed the gun at him and asked him to get out, he didn't want to harm him, then took his truck.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So obviously, Tom, this person was on foot. He didn't see him get out of another vehicle and approach his car?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His comment was he jumped out of the woods.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I mean, in a violent situation like that, your mind plays funny tricks on you, obviously. He saw clearly one gun pointed right at him. Did he happen to notice if this person wearing the camis had any other weapons on him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He didn't say. I didn't ask. I was just happy that he was okay and that he and his dog were safe. He was a little wired up, actually.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll bet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, what we don't know is according to "The LA Times," for the last several days, Christopher Dorner has been in a cabin holding a couple hostage, basically kind of laying low and that's why we haven't heard much from him and why authorities haven't heard much from him over the last several days. It's not clear how he got from that cabin that he allegedly was holding hostages in to carjacking this vehicle, according to this person saying he came out of the woods. It's not clear exactly the layout of the cabin where he was supposedly saying.
CUOMO: Tom Fuentes, former assistant director of the FBI, is giving us information that there is a tactical operation ongoing right now. So there's information to come. Hopefully everybody will be safe at the end of it. We'll let you know when we know.
But to go back to what we heard from the gentleman about the carjacking, again, it's another insight into who we're dealing with here as a suspect. And as much as he's killing police officers but didn't want to wound the person in the car.
COOPER: We're told tear gas has now been fired into the cabin. There is a tactical operation underway right now. We just got that word from Tom Fuentes.
Again, you're not looking at live pictures because of the security situation on the ground. Authorities have asked helicopters to not fly over this area. But what we are hearing is that a tactical operation now is under way. Tear gas has been fired. We had talked to Tom Fuentes from the FBI earlier, who is giving us some of this information -- formerly of the FBI, I should say. His key point was that if there were hostages inside, it would be a very different reaction and a very different timetable.
Tom Fuentes is joining us on the phone. Tom, what are you hearing?
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR/FORMER ASSISTAND FBI DIRECTOR (on the phone): Well, I just heard from some law enforcement contacts that the operation had been initiated, launching tear gas at the cabin. From my past experience, it would be unlikely that they would initiate a tactical operation if they thought there were hostages in there. So somehow, they had probably determined there were probably no hostages in there and decided to seek it this way.
COOPER: How does this play out? Given other situations you have monitored, you have been involved with or aware of, tear gas is fired. It's not known whether he may have gas mask or not, is it, so I guess there's still a certain level of kind of wait and see.
FUENTES: Yes. I think the hope here is that he would not have all of the equipment that he might normally have had, had he set up a location to defend. If he happened to just run in there and come across this cabin, we don't know that for sure -- but if it just happened to be a cabin that he was able to enter and he's on foot running, he may not have all of the equipment that he would possibly want to have for a long term siege, including night vision equipment, warm weather clothing, gas mask, more weaponry, fire power. He may not have that.
So he may be extra vulnerable that way. And again, if they determine and were reasonably certain he was alone in that cabin, then it changes everything. And they could go ahead and launch this, especially try to resolve it before dark.
CUOMO: All right, tom, please stay with us. Let us know if you get any new information.
Let's bring in commissioner Bill Bratton, who was the LAPD police chief. I'm assuming you heard that, Chief, that they are doing a tactical operation right now around the cabin. We believe they're using tear gas. Can you step us through what happens in a situation like this?
BILL BRATTON, FORMER LAPD POLICE CHIEF (on the phone): Well, normally in these situations that they're in a position where they can wait out an individual. But if I understand it based on news reports, he has been firing somewhat continuously at the officers --
CUOMO: Chief, give me one second here. We're just getting new information that a SWAT team has entered the cabin. This is obviously a small space now. A confrontation is almost required. So, right now inside that cabin, a lot of activity, obviously, chief, right?
BRATTON: Okay. Well, actually, what they're probably attempting to do is while they still have daylight on their side to move in -- and again, while he was continuing to fire at them, he was endangering the officers.
CUOMO: And Chief, let me stop you one more second again. I'm sorry. We have a new live picture. That smoke is coming from the cabin where we believe the suspect is held up. We have been told there's a tactical operation going on. Tear gas was used. A SWAT team has, we are told, entered the cabin, and that is what's going on right now. That smoke is a result.
COOPER: That's from our affiliate, KABC.
CUOMO: KABC. Thank you.
So Chief, you're hearing what we're hearing and we're seeing this smoke. What would that smoke be? Can tear gas be black smoke?
BRATTON: It could be. Basically they have very different types of devices, flash bang grenades that would give off smoke. tear gas, although tear gas is something that they have probably not used with the officers entering the premises.
But there are a number of different types of devices that they could use at their disposal. Quite obviously, this thing has now reached its conclusion, if you will. We all need to hope for is that the officers involved come out of this without injury and without any further loss of life.
COOPER: And as you know, Chief, one officer, one deputy from San Bernardino county has lost his life today as a result of a shootout.
BRATTON: Okay. They did confirm that. I know they were waiting for the San Bernardino police to confirm. So, they are probably waiting for notification of relatives.
COOPER: Yes, that has been confirmed. Let's listen in to this press conference, in fact.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to comment on where his injuries are.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, were they aware it might have been Dorner in the stolen car? I guess trying to pull him over or something?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Certainly that information was made aware to the deputies that the suspect that stole the vehicle matched the description. He crashed the car and then took off into the forest.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anything you can tell us about the deceased deputy, number of years in service, married, children?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm not going to comment on any of that. We are still doing some investigation and notifying family members.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As you can imagine, the sheriff would like to get back into the families in the hospital. Is there any other questions?
(END LIVE FEED)
CUOMO: The sheriff is giving information. One deputy as we know has died, another is told to be in surgery. We leave that, not to be insensitive, but to get back to this because there are reports that the entire cabin may be engulfed in flames. This may be fire smoke we're seeing, not tear gas.
COOPER: And again, tactical units, SWAT team has moved in according to the latest information we have through our sources. Again, you see that smoke. It's a fair amount of smoke. This is a pretty small cabin. Earlier we had gotten a report through The LA Times that the owner of this cabin, a woman who believes she owns this cabin, her name is Candy Martin, was actually watching television. Saw authorities surrounding what she believes to be her cabin, and her son alerted authorities. And in fact, this cabin does not have Internet, does not have phone, does not have cable, that the cabin was supposed to be empty.
That is a very significant piece of information, because there had been a great concern about whether or not there might be hostages inside that cabin. This is a cabin that apparently, it seems, Chris Dorner basically broke into in -- while fleeing this shoot-out at a roadblock that he had engaged in.
Chief Bratton, as you watch this, and we are watching it and again, the first time we're seeing kind of these live images of this cabin on this operation that's under way because air assets have been -- had been asked to move away, not wanting to give the suspect any potential information. What do you make of what may be going on, given your experience?
BRATTON: Well, the report that -- I'm on a cell phone with you, so not watching TV -- but you're indicating there may be flames coming out of the cabin that one of the potential effects of some of the devices used to set off noise and smoke is potential for fire. So that would not be unexpected in the sense of there's a potential for those devices they might use.
COOPER: In a situation like this, where again, for hours and authorities have been on this cabin now for several hours, the priority would be to figure out whether or not there are hostages inside. And once it's determined that they're not, then that changes the dynamic on the ground. That changes -- BRATTON: Well, the dynamic, and this is ironically a conference call in Washington, D.C. today and tomorrow on this whole issue of actively engaging the police, it changes the scenario significantly. He has taken a number of lives, including evidently a deputy as recently as this afternoon.
While the concern is certainly for the safety of the hostages, it's an active shooter. You go in and get him because basically, he has shown no concern for life at all. And so the concern is to protect the safety of the officers to the best of their ability. But the idea being that even if he has hostages, that the likelihood that he's concerned for their safety is next to none.
CUOMO: Obviously --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't speak for the circumstances on the ground there. I just don't know them. But the fact they went in is a decision they obviously made to try to bring this thing to a successful conclusion as quickly as possible.
CUOMO: The concern here, of course, is the fire. Chief, could this have been caused by the devices with the tear gas? Could they have ignited --
BRATTON: That's correct. You describe it as tear gas, but it might not be tear gas at all. Again, flash bang devices that give off smoke, give off loud noise and also give off a bright burst of light to blind and basically destabilize the suspect.
So as to what type of device or what types, chances are they used more than one. But one of the effects of some of these devices could be incendiary nature is the potential for fire. Again, you're reporting something I can't see so as to whether it was actually caused by one of those devices, it's something we'll have to find out after the fact.
COOPER: And Chief Bratton, as you know, it's about 4:27 local time there. You were saying nightfall would be a concern for authorities.
BRATTON: Well, nightfall is certainly can seen as an advantage or disadvantage. Disadvantage certainly that absent them being able to light up that cabin significantly. Darkness works in his favor. It works in the favor also of the tactical teams trying to move in on him.
But again, as to motivation for moving, was it a concern about losing daylight? Was it the fact he was evidently continuing to fire at the officers outside of the building? You learn all that after the fact. It would be entirely speculative on my part not being there and not understanding the circumstances on the ground. And I don't want to speculate in a way that misinforms your listening audience.
COOPER: Sure. Of course.
And Chief Bratton, you and I spoke I guess it was Thursday or Friday, when we realized that we had received a parcel from this man. And in it was a challenge coin it seems you may have given him a challenge coin, the kind of thing you may have handed out to an officer as a sign of respect. This one had several bullet holes in the center of it, one bullet hole along the edge. You don't remember this man at all, do you?
BRATTON: I do not. As I indicated to you, Anderson, the challenge part you're referring to that he returned with three bullets in it is something that I normally would give as a sign of respect and good luck talisman to somebody shipping overseas. So my assumption is what he returned to me was the one I gave to him.
COOPER: When you have a situation where officers have been killed -- and again, this is a man who is just a suspect in those killings, hasn't been convicted, but he is a suspect -- how does that change the situation on the ground for the officers going into a house like this? I mean --
BRATTON: Each one of these situations, as well as you train for it or attempt to train for it, is different. That's where the commanders on the ground, as highly trained as they are to deal with these exigencies as they begin to manifest themselves. And again, what's going on there now in terms of the decision to move in when they did and for what purpose - but again, every one of these things has different aspects to it. You're not really going to learn that until after the fact. You can get tactical experts to talk about it, but until they come out of that cabin and do their next press conference, it's really all speculation on our part.
CUOMO: Chief, what we're being told now is that this fire may well be ignited by ammunition going off inside the building. That's the word. Help me understand that. How would the ammunition cause fire?
BRATTON: Well, that actually creates another set of dangers in the sense of the ammunition depending on how much he had in the cabin with him in terms of the temperature from that fire can, in fact, activate that ammunition. That's another set of dangers.
CUOMO: So, it's not that the ammunition caused the fire. But if there is fire from a flash bang, as you suggested, it could get hot enough to set off the ammunition?
BRATTON: That's correct. There's that potential. Again, as to what he actually was armed with, we have no idea at this stage of the game what he was carrying with him. In the sense of you had an early report from the owner of the house that all the power had been shut off in that house, gas, water, et cetera, you know? So, the idea could have been gas going into the house that possibly that might have been set off. Apparently that was not the case.
Again, it's a number of things that could have caused a fire to start and you know, possibly he himself could have ignited something inside the house. The flash bang, to use that term, a wide range of potential devices they could use. COOPER: Chief, I got to jump in here. We're seeing now, the helicopter seems to have moved around a bit. For the first time, we are actually seeing flames inside this cabin. Clearly, it looks like a pretty large sized fire there inside this cabin.
We don't know at this point where that tactical team, we have been told a SWAT team had moved in. We don't know if they would still be in that cabin or if they would, because of the existence of flames, that they would have moved out and just maintained their perimeter.
CUOMO: It's very dramatic picture we're seeing. I don't know if you can see it. Are you watching the screen right now?
BRATTON: I am not.
BRATTON: I am actually in traffic in New York City on a cell phone talking to you.
CUOMO: OK. We appreciate you taking the time.
BRATTON: I'm at a double disadvantage so I'm actually going to step off because I really can't contribute to the discussion.
CUOMO: OK, Chief. We'll bring you back when we know more about the situation. Thank you for taking the time with us.
To the rest of our viewers, what we're seeing right now obviously very big flames engulfing at least one-third to one half of this cabin. Not only does it abbreviate the time frame and you can se the fire seems to be spreading out now. We have been told devices were used in a tactical operation.
We thought it was tear gas but they could have been, we're being told, something called flash bangs. They create a big burst of light to disorient somebody and that is something you do to initiate a move on somebody else, then a SWAT team we're told entered this building.
Now there are flames arising from the cabin. We are also told that ammunition has started to detonate within the cabin, perhaps because of the heat of the fire.
So now the questions that are raised certainly this abbreviates the time frame, Anderson, for how long this can play out. But is this SWAT team in this house? Hopefully not. Is Dorner in this cabin now? Hopefully not. Hopefully everybody is safe in this but it looks very dramatic.
COOPER: It certainly doesn't look like there are any assets that are actually fighting the flames, fighting the fire. They've had several hours to position folks all around this cabin, but because the suspect inside the cabin shot twice at officers, in fact, killing one sheriff's deputy over the last several hours, from this cabin or from the rear of the cabin, clearly, they have not wanted to get too close and whatever assets they have in place. Again, it's not clear whether they are still in that structure, whether they have pulled out of that structure, or whether the suspect is still inside there choosing not to come out or has been shot, has been injured or has already been removed by the tactical team that was in there. We simply don't have the information.
We are getting dribs and drabs of information through law enforcement sources, through various sources of ours. But again, no official word on exactly what is going on. But you see the images as we are seeing them live.
Clearly, a large fire in this cabin -- a cabin which according to the owner of the cabin or the woman who believes she's the owner of the cabin, Candy Martin, was supposed to be empty starting on Monday. No phone, no Internet, no cable service. We don't know if the cabin has electricity. She had said there were no firearms in that cabin.
We also had an earlier report which we heard about 20 minutes or so ago from a friend of the person who had their vehicle carjacked, allegedly, by this suspect, saying the suspect emerged out of the woods, pointing one weapon, a rifle, at the owner of the vehicle, got the owner of the vehicle and the owner's dog out of the vehicle and took off. That's what precipitated all of this.
He ended up at a roadblock engaged in a shootout with some deputies from fish and wildlife and then entered this cabin. It doesn't seem to be a cabin that he had prepositioned or preplanned to enter. Just seems to be kind of a cabin that was nearby this Highway 38 that this altercation began on.
CUOMO: Tom Fuentes, you still with us on the phone?
TOM FUENTES, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR (via telephone): Yes, I am.
CUOMO: Any new information about what is causing what we're seeing, this fire engulfing the cabin?
FUENTES: Not specific information, but the fact that I was advised earlier that tear gas had been launched, would in many cases initiate a fire.
Tear gas is actually a misnomer. It's not a gas. It's little particles that irritate the mucous membranes of your body and the way the particles arrive is by smoke.
So, tear gas is actually a smoke grenade that's incendiary. It goes off, there's a fire, the fire creates smoke, the smoke carries the particles which cause the person to not be able to function properly.
Very high likelihood of fire when you initiate tear gas grenades into a residence like that or into a wooden building, so that's usually a big concern when they try to use that. I think that it wouldn't have been launched ordinarily if they weren't fairly positive that there's no hostages, that it was only the subject himself, Dorner, in that cabin.
So they would initiate the tear gas and then they may be waiting out for the building to burn down or they may have rushed in there to absolutely be sure there wasn't another innocent person in there that might need to be rescued before that building burned to the ground.
COOPER: Yes, Tom, we had had a report that a tactical unit, SWAT team, had entered the structure. If there is fire in the structure, would they then pull out? Is there a procedure?
FUENTES: Sure. Once they determine, you know, the subject's in there and he's dead, they would try to maybe pull his body out of there. If there's any hostages, then try to rescue them.
But, again, they wouldn't have launched this I think if they weren't very positive that there were no hostages, it was only the subject himself in there. Launch the tear gas, try to bring this to an end before darkness and then once they have launched that in there, if there's no further shots coming out of there, you know, try to make the assault and go after him.
CUOMO: So now it's basically back to waiting to find out. Obviously, the much bigger concerns now than when it was just a waiting game. Questions about who's in the cabin, are they safe, did they get out? Obviously the only outcome here that everybody wants is for everybody to be safe, even the suspect so that justice can take its course.
Right now, we don't know. We do know this fire was most likely caused by this tactical operation, some type of device. What it might have ignited inside, this is a cabin.
Very often you are going to be dealing with a wooden structure. Very often you have independent stand-alone fuel sources, propane, kerosene. If the suspect had been holed up there or brought some of the arsenal he's alleged to have with him, it could have set off ammunition.
There are a lot of possibilities here. But the certainty is that cabin is engulfed in flames right now.
COOPER: And, Tom, is there any incentive from a tactical standpoint for them to try to put out that fire? I don't even know if they brought -- they've had several hours. I don't know if they brought firefighting capabilities around there. But would there be any advantage for them to do that? Or is it --
FUENTES: Well, normally, if they -- if they would want to preserve the crime scene and maybe see if there's ammunition or notes or maps or other information in there that he may have had with him, you would want to. But the problem in a case like this, normally most agencies, the rules require that if a SWAT team is deployed, a fire department truck is also deployed because of the possibility of fire if tear gas or other incendiaries are necessary to be used, flash bangs also. So -- but in a case like this, if you have a subject that was reported to have had a .50 caliber gun at one point, the metal on a fire truck cannot sustain that. So you would be endangering the lives of anybody on the fire department to try to go near that if there was a possibility that they could get shot at and the bullets would penetrate the outer shell of the fire truck and kill everybody in it. So, normally, the situation like this, they would have those kind of resources standing back and not have them too close to the scene.
Another reason for trying to resolve this thing besides darkness, by the way, I meant to add earlier, when he's firing his gun outside, out of that cabin, those bullets come down some place. They don't just disappear into the atmosphere. So when he shoots, you're shooting downhill, those bullets could be raining down on neighborhoods down below the mountain, down in the valley or the resort or residential properties.
So, the mere fact that he's firing rounds into the air in and of itself is dangerous and would have to be stopped. So that poses a threat to anybody within several miles of that location where the bullet could come down.
COOPER: So, Tom, again, I don't want to go down the road of speculation -- but the fact that it doesn't appear as if there's any efforts to put out this fire, does that tell you that the suspect may still be inside or there are still some concerns they have about the security of the area?
FUENTES: No. It would be speculation. It's possible he's still inside. I believe that they probably got in there and pulled him out before the fire really engulfed the whole facility. But I'm guessing. I'm speculating that because there was word that they entered, that they would have brought him out. They wouldn't have just left him there to be in that fire. They would have gotten him out of there.
Those flares or tear gas grenades are red-hot so the individual SWAT team members running in there obviously wouldn't be trying to put that out. It would be too dangerous for them. They would just be trying to -- they would try to make sure that they've got every person that was inside that cabin out, get them away from the cabin and then try to get them as far away as possible in case there's some other thing inside there that could explode that they're not aware of, some other hazardous material.
CUOMO: All right. Thank you very much, Tom. Stay with us, please. Let us know any information as it develops.
We are going to leave you for one second and bring in John Miller. He works for the San Bernardino National Forest.
Mr. Miller, can you hear me?
JOHN MILLER, SPOKESMAN FOR SAN BERNARDINO NATIONAL FOREST (via telephone): Yes, I can. CUOMO: Obviously, we're seeing these flames engulfing this cabin. What can you tell us about most of the homes and structures in this area and why fire is such a risk?
MILLER: Well, you know, southern California is a fire-prone area year round. Down here, this is known as the Santa Ana River drainage in the Seven Oaks area. It is about a mile and a half air miles from where Mr. Dorner's pickup truck initially was discovered on forest road 210 and the specific location is a seasonal resort that's under permit from the U.S. Forest Service and in the general area, Forest Service special youth cabins and organizational camps.
CUOMO: The structures in the area, we were speculating earlier, obviously a lot of them wooden, a lot of independent fuel sources, propane, kerosene in the homes, things that are obviously readily flammable?
MILLER: Right. These are -- these are old, mostly historic cabins.
COOPER: Do you know, to your knowledge, is there any effort to try to put out this fire?
MILLER: No. I'm not aware of any efforts at this point. Of course, as your previous caller stated, you know, fire officials have to wait until law enforcement has secured the scene and made it safe, whether it's our firefighters or San Bernardino County firefighters to get in there and knock down the structural fire.
CUOMO: It is an area, though, where you can readily get assets and equipment that you need to put it out there? You're able to get to, right?
MILLER: Yes, sir. Yes.
COOPER: Does that mean the scene is not secure, to your knowledge, or you're just not sure?
MILLER: That -- yes, and since this is still ongoing and operational, I really don't want to speculate as to, you know, what the activity of the officers on the ground are.
COOPER: Fair enough. We certainly don't want to go down the road of speculation. John Miller, I appreciate you joining us from the San Bernardino National Forest.
We should also point out that we have gotten word from the sheriff's department that the one deputy, we know one deputy has been killed today by this suspect in a shootout in that cabin location. The other deputy, though, is said to be doing OK and is going to be all right which is certainly a little bit of good news in what has been a very difficult day, obviously, for law enforcement and for the entire community who has been watching these various shootouts, number of shootouts we've seen over the last several hours.
And again, it seems to be coming to some sort of a resolution. Exactly what that resolution is at this point, we do not know.
I have seen one report that the KABC was asked not to zoom in too closely on this fire by authorities, so they are respecting that. That's why they're just showing this wide shot. They have the capabilities obviously to zoom in a little closer.
CUOMO: We have a reporter on the ground nearby, Miguel Marquez.
Miguel, are you with us? What are you hearing about the current situation?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am indeed. I can just ad a little more confusion to this already confusing situation.
I think the concern of authorities is that Mr. Dorner may have either escaped or been outside of that cabin at the moment earlier when he was holed up in that cabin, whoever was holed up in that cabin, they lit off a smoke device. It seemed apparently according to some reports I've heard that it was an attempt by Mr. Dorner to escape. He was forced back into the cabin and the concern that authorities have out there now is that he's either just in the immediate area of the cabin, outside of it and may still pose a threat to them as they move in and try to clear it.
So until they know exactly where he is. And as you guys know, he has been a very wily suspect in all of this, they're not going to move in very fast. They are going to take their time and get there.
We are on Highway 38 here about 10 miles from where that cabin is, just up the mountains behind me, and they're not letting anybody else up this way at the moment. But clearly, they believe they have him cornered. It's not very clear, though, yet whether they have him -- whether he has died or whether they will eventually capture him -- Chris.
CUOMO: Miguel, just to be clear, we don't know, you can't get any better information from where you are about whether or not they knew for sure that the suspect was in the home when they launched the operation, right? They still don't know where he is as far as you know?
MARQUEZ: They don't know entirely. They don't know entirely. It was a very confusing day. He started in one home near Big Bear, he escaped that home. The people called from that home saying they had -- he had stolen a car or truck, white truck.
That truck was then encountered by game and fish wardens who fired at him. He fired back. They were uninjured.
At some point, sheriff's deputies came across him. Those are the sheriff's deputies, one was killed. We understand the other was injured and then he found himself in this home about seven miles due south of Big Bear in the area of Seven Oaks, near Angelus Oaks, California. That's where he is now. That's where that fire is burning. And the concern that authorities will have right now that is he has started this fire or the fire started, and he has used it as a diversion in order to escape, perhaps in the immediate vicinity, perhaps somewhere else. But they want to make sure they have him before they move in and commit any of the resources to going into that building and figuring out where he is.
COOPER: Miguel, can you give us a sense of the timeline? Because as you said, this has been a very dynamic situation over the last several hours and things have been very confused for law enforcement, for -- obviously for everybody who is trying to cover this. We have been getting information here and there from our sources.
But again, we don't want to go down, very far, down the road of speculation. We're trying to be very careful. As we all know in these kind of situations, often the initial reports turn out to be false. All that being said, can you give us a sense of the timeline, how long a period of time has this all been playing out?
MARQUEZ: It's been playing out for about four hours now. Mr. Dorner it sounds like -- the one bit that's not clear in all of this is whether he entered that home and tied up individuals today or whoever it was that entered that home, tied up those individuals today, or had he been in there for several days with these people, holding them and then only decided then to get out.
Individuals called police saying the person resembled Dorner, that's when everybody went on high alert around the community there. He encountered the game and fish wardens who were assisting San Bernardino in this search. They engaged in gunfire. Nobody was injured there.
He fled in this white truck and then some time later, he encountered the sheriff's deputies, killing one of them and injuring the other. And now, he's in this house situation.
I understood about 40, 45 minutes ago, that law enforcement was ready to go in with gas and we may be getting some sort of briefing now.
This is Cindy Bachman with San Bernardino sheriff's.
Cindy, can we chat with you?
CINDY BACHMAN, SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: We will do this all at one time.
MARQUEZ: What time will we do it?
BACHMAN: Just a few minutes.
MARQUEZ: We will have an update in just a few minutes, if you want to stick with us. I am going to grab my mike.
Cindy, can I put this on you real quick? BACHMAN: Yes.
MARQUEZ: How are you, my dear?
BACHMAN: I'm fine.
MARQUEZ: Good to see you.
COOPER: We should point out while Miguel is doing that, this has obviously been a very difficult day for San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. They have lost one deputy, another deputy was shot. The latest information we have from authorities is that that deputy is going to be OK.
Let's start -- OK. It looks like they're still kind of getting themselves organized on the ground there. Again, this is a spokeswoman for San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.
One deputy is OK that was shot. The other deputy has lost his life. We don't know the name of that deputy yet. But this is obviously now the second law enforcement person to have been killed allegedly by this suspect, Christopher Dorner. Two other people killed as well, one the daughter of a former LAPD officer and her fiance.
That's what started all of this off really before the public knew much about what was going on. It was that incident, the killing of that couple, which alerted police to Christopher Dorner.
CUOMO: We have a long lens shot on this now. The authorities have asked us to keep our distance for safety concerns and so that their air assets can get close enough to assess the situation because that's what matters most, obviously. So it's hard to tell what's going on other than the obvious, that you see, the fire.
And from here, again, we're far away but you don't see any movement around it. It is very difficult to see if there's any manpower on the ground there. And the presser is going to begin. Let's see what we can learn.
MARQUEZ: Just about to do this. Here we go.
BACHMAN: I'm Cindy Bachman, public information officer with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.
As you know, we still have an active scene here in the Angelus Oaks Area. There's a subject barricade in a cabin, and at this time, that cabin is on fire. As far as our deputy sheriffs who were injured during the firefight, one of our deputy sheriffs was pronounced dead when he arrived at the hospital. And the second deputy is in surgery now and is expected to survive.
BACHMAN: I can't. I know that the subject stole a vehicle from the Big Bear area. He fled on foot not far from this cabin that he's in now. When he barricaded himself in the cabin, there was gunfire exchanged between the deputies who were the first responders and the suspect.
The suspect has been described as looking similar to Christopher Dorner, and we have reason to believe that it is him. That is unconfirmed at this time because we have not had any contact with him except for the deputies that were engaged in gunfire with him.
MARQUEZ: Cindy, how did this fire start?
BACHMAN: I can't talk to you about the fire. I just received information when I got here that the cabin was on fire.
MARQUEZ: Do you know he's still inside?
BACHMAN: We don't know if he's inside. The cabin is on fire now. That's all I can tell you right now.
REPORTER: Are you planning a long night. Cindy, we saw the lights coming in?
BACHMAN: Of course. We are planning on a long night. It's an active crime scene. If this is Christopher Dorner here, he's now responsible for the murder of four people and attempted murder of three others.
MARQUEZ: Do you have it surrounded, the entire area surrounded?
BACHMAN: The entire area is surrounded by law enforcement personnel. As you know, there's been law enforcement here in the mountain communities from across southern California including the FBI, and the U.S. Marshals. We have plenty of air support. And we need to let them do their jobs and bring this incident to a safe ending.
MARQUEZ: The Fire Department is not invited in?
REPORTER: What kind of firepower? How much personnel is up there?
BACHMAN: I don't know how much personnel is there.
MARQUEZ: The fire department is not allowed to tackle the fire yet because they're not sure it's clear?
BACHMAN: Correct. If there is someone inside the house that is armed and has already killed one of our deputy sheriffs, they're not going to allow anyone to go near the fire at this point.
MARQUEZ: The two individuals, the two individuals --
REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) outside the cabin?
BACHMAN: I'm sorry.
REPORTER: Is there any communication at all in any type of -- BACHMAN: I'm not aware of any communication with the subject inside.
MARQUEZ: The two individuals that were held --
REPORTER: Hostages in the cabin?
BACHMAN: I'm not aware of any hostages in the cabin. I'm not aware of any hostage situation.
MARQUEZ: The two individuals that were held by him that ended up calling, were they harmed in any way? Who were they? How did they get out of this thing?
BACHMAN: The victims of the car theft, I know the car was stolen from their home, but I don't know how the incident unfolded at their home. As far as I know there were no injuries to these people. But after he fled the scene and then was engaged in a firefight with our deputies, what happened at the house wasn't that important. After I knew that they were not injured.
REPORTER: As far as you know we heard reports he may have been holding this couple hostage.
BACHMAN: I have not heard that.
REPORTER: Do you know what kind of weapons you're up against?
BACHMAN: No, I don't.
MARQUEZ: Are you sure somebody is in that house?
BACHMAN: We believe that someone is in that house, yes.
MARQUEZ: You believe it is Christopher Dorner at this point? Every ounce --
BACHMAN: We have reason to believe that it is him. The victims who had their car stolen reported to us that that suspect matched the description of Christopher Dorner.
MARQUEZ: As well as the game and fish wardens who came across him?
BACHMAN: I don't know what the fish and game wardens said.
REPORTER: There are no hostages or you don't have any information?
BACHMAN: I have not been advised that there are any hostages involved in this current situation.
REPORTER: Just to clarify what we're talking about. Of course, (INAUDIBLE) fire is, but he may have been holed up in a home or cabin over there with a couple that was tied up. There are reports. I was trying to clarify if there's any truth to the event? BACHMAN: That hasn't been confirmed. Like I said, as things began to unfold, when I knew that the victims of the car theft were not hurt, I didn't ask any further about that.
REPORTER: How about the deputies who were shot, two deputies and the ranger or more than that?
BACHMAN: I'm only aware of the two deputy sheriffs that were shot.
REPORTER: Did you start with fish and game if that was originally reported?
BACHMAN: I did hear reports that there were shots fired at a fish and game vehicle.
REPORTER: So they then called the sheriff's department?
BACHMAN: This situation was already going on at that point.
MARQUEZ: Do you know if the gas that was put into the house started the fire?
BACHMAN: I don't know.
MARQUEZ: Or started internally.
BACHMAN: I don't know.
MARQUEZ: How much force do they go in with? Was it just gas they went in with or other devices?
BACHMAN: I don't know. It's an active situation. And they're not concerned about updating me with that kind of detail at this point.
BACHMAN: I don't know. I know there was a smoke bomb, but I don't know if that was from the suspect or from our --
REPORTER: Any ammunition or explosions at the burning house?
BACHMAN: We would assume that there is ammunition there.
REPORTER: Is time on your side or at some point do they just go in?
BACHMAN: That will be up to them to determine how they handle it.
MARQUEZ: Has the entire area been -- all the civilians in the area have been moved out ahead of this or are there people who are now in their homes in that immediate area with Christopher Dorner perhaps on the run in the Seven Oaks area?
BACHMAN: I'm not aware that there are any neighbors who need to be evacuated. I think if there were, that was done early on.
MARQUEZ: How confident are you that you have him? Are you going to wait until this thing completely burns to the ground before you move in?
BACHMAN: They're evaluating it as -- the scene is -- it's an active scene. And it's burning right now. And they're going -- they have a plan, and they have not had time to update me on every detail of that plan.
REPORTER: -- out of the house before the fire started or was it after the fire started?
BACHMAN: There was active gunfire before the fire.
REPORTER: Do you know what type of weapon he has?
BACHMAN: No, I don't.
REPORTER: You don't know who started this fire, law enforcement?
BACHMAN: No, I don't. I don't.
REPORTER: Cindy, there were shots coming from the cabin towards the deputies?
BACHMAN: There was an exchange of gunfire between the subject in the cabin and the law enforcement personnel that were surrounding the cabin.
REPORTER: That were completely surrounded by law enforcement when that exchange was going on?
BACHMAN: Completely surrounded? I'm not sure. But there was law enforcement outside of the cabin when the exchange of gunfire occurred.
REPORTER: So he could have escaped?
BACHMAN: We had air units up as this was going on.
REPORTER: I just want to be clear, the deputies were shot while the suspect was in the cabin not while he was running to the cabin, correct? BACHMAN: I don't know the exact sequence of events. I know there was an exchange of gunfire. Two deputies were shot. One of those deputies died as a result. The second deputy is in surgery and is expected to survive.
REPORTER: Do you know if Dorner was hit?
REPORTER: At some point, Mr. Dorner abandoned the stolen vehicle, is that what you're saying?
BACHMAN: He did. He abandoned the stolen vehicle and fled into the forest and that's how he ended up in this cabin.
REPORTER: Do you know --
REPORTER: The gunfire had been exchanged before he abandoned the vehicle?
BACHMAN: No, after he abandoned the vehicle.
REPORTER: Are you guys aware if he has been hit?
BACHMAN: We're not aware.
MARQUEZ: About a half hour of sunlight left. How critical is it that you guys get him before that sun goes down or end this thing?
BACHMAN: It's critical that we end this situation as soon as possible. He's an armed and dangerous subject and --
REPORTER: Can you give summary please, up-to-date summary?
BACHMAN: There's no police cars missing that I'm aware of.
REPORTER: Any attempted communication with him?
BACHMAN: I'm not sure.
REPORTER: Does it appear that he has body armor?
BACHMAN: I don't know. They didn't indicate that he did.
REPORTER: Is there any indication that this suspect probably fled the area before he caught the house on fire?
BACHMAN: I don't know what kind of speculation is going on there at the scene.
At about 12:20 deputies that were actively working the search for Christopher Dorner received a report on Club View Drive from the reporting party said that their vehicle had been stolen from their home. They also reported that the subject who stole their vehicle matched the description of Christopher Dorner.
Immediately all available law enforcement on the mountain and other units from down the hill began to surround the area. Our air units were up. They located the vehicle.
The suspect that was driving the vehicle abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot into the forest. He barricaded himself in a cabin.
At that time, there was an exchange of gunfire between the law enforcement personnel outside of the cabin and the subject inside. During that gunfight, a deputy sheriff -- two deputy sheriffs were shot. One of them died after being taken to Loma Linda. The second deputy is currently in surgery and is expected to survive.
REPORTER: Were these deputies on routine patrol or were they part of this large --
BACHMAN: The deputies that were shot were a part of the search efforts to find Dorner.
The second deputy is in surgery.
MARQUEZ: The house is burning quite significantly. It doesn't seem that anybody could survive in there. How soon before they go in and confirm whether he is in there or --
BACHMAN: I don't know how soon that will be. Probably when it's safe to do so.
REPORTER: Is it an abandoned cabin or an occupied cabin?
BACHMAN: They believe, I think, that there was no one there.