As authorities announced that dental records had confirmed that the charred body in a California mountain cabin was that of fugitive ex-cop Christopher Dorner, police were facing scrutiny over their decision to use “burners,” a canister tear gas that gives off intense heat and often causes a fire, says the Los Angeles Times. Dorner, the fired Los Angeles cop suspected of killing four people in a campaign of revenge, had been holed up in a cabin near Big Bear Lake for hours, trading gunfire with San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies. Repeated calls over a loudspeaker for him to surrender went ignored. Attempts to flush him out with regular tear gas led nowhere.
Wanting to end the standoff before nightfall, members of the sheriff’s SWAT unit enacted a plan they had devised for a final assault on the cabin, according to law enforcement sources. An officer drove a demolition vehicle up to the building and methodically tore down most of its walls, the sources said. With the cabin’s interior exposed, the officer got on the radio to others awaiting his order. “We’re going to go forward with the plan, with the burner,” said the unidentified officer said, according to a recording of police radio transmissions. “Seven burners deployed,” another officer responded several seconds later. “And we have a fire.” Police officials denied they intended to burn Dorner out. But multiple sources said the decision to use the incendiary gas canisters came amid mounting concern that time and options were running out as darkness approached.