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Members of the news media are shown outside a home, at left, in Big Bear, Calif., where two women were taken hostage by fugitive Christopher Dorner. Police scoured mountain peaks for days, using everything from bloodhounds to high-tech helicopters in their manhunt for Dorner, a revenge-seeking ex-cop. They had no idea he was hiding among them, possibly holed up in this vacation home across the street from their command post. / Nick Ut, AP

In the end, disgraced Los Angeles police officer Christopher Dorner was cornered.

A vengeful shooting spree ended in barrage of bullets and a raging fire that swallowed the cabin in the San Bernardino mountains where police say Dorner hid on Tuesday. A medical examiner will determine Wednesday whether charred remains found at the scene are Dorner's.

Dorner outgunned and outran police for days in Southern California. His training in the military and then as a police officer multiplied the challenges for law enforcement, said retired FBI hostage negotiator Gil Torrez.

"You're dealing with someone as a police officer who may have skills that are comparable to yours, a former colleague in the profession," Torrez said. "You have to think about what he knows. He may know something about your tactics and procedures. He may be able to look downfield. You have a very tough adversary."

Police say Dorner fled to a cabin in the mountains near Big Bear Lake on Thursday, four days after the deadly shooting spree began. After two maids inadvertently discovered him, he left, stealing two cars and fleeing into the woods on foot to a vacant cabin. He shot at sheriff's deputies who followed him to the cabin, killing one, before barricading himself inside. Police say he never emerged.

San Bernardino sheriff's deputies faced a challenging situation once Dorner holed up in the cabin, said Torrez, now a private investigator in Texas.

"Once you have somebody who has a vendetta and they've decided that they are going to do something heinous regardless of the outcome, then you've got your hands full," Torrez said.

Dorner seemed combative and unlikely to surrender easily, Torrez said. A negotiator could have attempted to get the suspect to vent about why he felt wronged, he said. Other tactics include bringing in a family member as leverage, Torrez said.

"I think any unit, any agency, had they had the opportunity, would have tried to get into his head," Torrez said. "The opportunity did not seem to present itself. He was combative from the minute he was confronted with any law enforcement."

There were indications Dorner was ready to die.

In a profanity-laced letter attributed to Dorner, the author had laid out his grievances against the Los Angeles Police Department and various officers who he claimed wronged him, ruined his law enforcement career and ultimately destroyed his reputation.

The LAPD dismissed him Jan. 2, 2009.

"Self-preservation is no longer important to me. I do not fear death as I died long ago on 1/2/09," the letter read.

In end, it appears officers threw tear gas canisters into the cabin and shouted at Dorner to surrender. A single shot was heard inside before the cabin caught fire, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Police have not explained what started the fire.

Torrez says it's unlikely that police would have deliberately burned down the house. Officers may have lobbed a canister of tear gas or another agent into the home that ignited something else, he said.

SWAT team commanders would have analyzed the situation before deciding how to approach Dorner, Torrez said. Commanders would have considered whether Dorner had hostages, weapons or particular demands, he said. They would control the area to ensure no one can get in or out.

"It's one thing to be holed up by yourself and another to have innocent lives inside with this person. The tactics are different," Torrez said. "If it's a lone person, you don't worry too much about the loss of life, even though tactically, law enforcement always tries to resolve it without firing a shot."

All of the options carry risk, he said.

"That's a decision not made easily by commanders in the field," Torrez said. "Law enforcement is not an exact science."



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Cornered ex-cop Dorner posed unique threat

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