Fugitive Ex-LAPD Cop Reportedly Exchanges Gunfire With Officers Near Big Bear

Kirk Siegler talks to Robert Siegel for an update on the search for former Los Angeles Police Department officer Christopher Dorner. While police have followed up on hundreds of potential tips from the public, court documents indicate that Dorner may have had help. Police officers reportedly exchanged gun fire with him near Big Bear Lake, Calif., on Tuesday afternoon.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

I'm Robert Siegel.

And we begin this hour with a terrifying scene in the mountains of Southern California. A fugitive, the former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, is apparently involved in a gun battle with law enforcement officers. Details are still sketchy, but NPR's Kirk Siegler joins us from NPR West to talk more about this. And, Kirk, start by telling us the latest.

KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: Well, the latest is this is really unfolding, Robert, as we speak. You know, just moments ago, the local CBS affiliate here in LA broadcast audio of an apparent gun battle going on in the mountains up there. Listening to that audio was tense, if not frankly horrifying. You could hear shouts apparently of officers shouting, get out, a lot of expletives, as you might imagine.

Police very tense as, of course, Dorner has apparently been targeting them, and they're pointing to his apparent online manifesto. Police very tense and worried that he's very armed and very dangerous.

SIEGEL: Any official statement as to whether anyone was hit in that exchange of gunfire?

SIEGLER: We don't have anything official to report at this point. Of course it's a very chaotic scene. I can't stress enough that it's still very much unfolding as we talk.

SIEGEL: And, Kirk, again, explain to us the geography here. Where is all of this happening relative to the rest of Los Angeles?

SIEGLER: This is going on in the San Bernardino Mountains, which are about 100 miles east of Los Angeles where this apparent gun battle is unfolding high up in the mountains. It's the location where authorities were led to that area because they found Dorner's pickup truck in that vicinity. And the terrain is very rugged. We're watching TV images right now of choppers circling over the snowy mountains, just trying to get a handle on what's going on up there.

SIEGEL: The Los Angeles Times had a report that he had - that Dorner had broken into a home. There was a home invasion involved here.

SIEGLER: Right. Again, stressing this is a very fluid situation, but there are reports that Dorner may have broken into a cabin up there. The LA Times is also reporting that there may have been a couple in that cabin that he tied up. We do know from the San Bernardino Sheriff's Office that a vehicle was stolen from that particular residence in question.

Fish and game officers up there as well, Robert, saw the vehicle, described it as a Dodge truck, reportedly exchanged fire with the driver. It's really unclear still, though, whether a chase or how, I should say, this apparent gunfight developed.

SIEGEL: And, Kirk, this is all happening in an area where the search actually had been scaled back to put more police protecting other LAPD officers and their families who might have been targets of Donner.

SIEGLER: That's right. And, you know, prior to today, at least, in covering this story, there had really been a shift in the thinking publicly that - amongst law enforcement, anyway, and investigators in the scene and people watching it - that Dorner may not even be up in the San Bernardino Mountains, that he may have, in fact, fled the area and may have gone to Mexico.

Just 30 officers were on the ground, still searching that area up in the mountains, the rugged terrain, as of this morning. So I - it's not clear whether or not that manpower up there is or the lack of manpower, I should say, up there is really hampering their search or hampering what's really unfolding right in front of us.

SIEGEL: OK. Thanks, Kirk. We'll check in as events warrant. Thank you.

SIEGLER: You're welcome.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Kirk Siegler at NPR West. He was talking about a dramatic scene in the mountains of - the San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California involving law enforcement officers and a fugitive, former police officer Christopher Dorner.

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