Nightly News   |  February 13, 2013

Dorner gunfight: ‘It was like the Wild, Wild West’

After a long manhunt culminating in gunfire and a cabin set ablaze, the search for accused murderer and ex-cop Christopher Dorner seems to have ended. Police say the charred body found inside the cabin was unrecognizable, but they claim there is no doubt their suspect is dead. NBC’s Miguel Almaguer reports.

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>>> to be done on what was found in a charred cabin . but we can say with near certainty tonight, it's over in southern california . they believe they got their man. not before he killed four people and apparently himself. not before this one man, highly motivated, highly trained, terrorized a huge metropolitan area . what we learn today is, he might have been very close to the very headquarters of the search for days. because during his life he learned how to elude. he learned police tactics. he himself made for a tough suspect to locate and take down. we have two reports tonight, starting with the very latest on the investigation, nbc 's miguel almaguer is in big bear in southern california . miguel , good evening.

>> reporter: brian, good evening. the coroner's office will use dental records or forensics to identify christopher dorner. they say his body is burned beyond recognition, but law enforcement sources tell nbc news, make no doubt, this is the suspect. tonight, this rubble is all that remains of the cabin where fugitive christopher dorner made his last stand. the drama began tuesday afternoon, miles away . 12:20 p.m ., a 911 call from this cabin . two women who arrived to clean the home surprised dorner who was holed up inside. he tied them up and stole their car.

>> did we get a physical on the guy? what is he wearing?

>> reporter: dressed in camouflage and armed, dorner drove down a mountain road . he opened fire on fish and wildlife wardens in pursuit.

>> the suspect took his weapon out, stuck it out the window of his vehicle, and shot our game warden five times.

>> reporter: dorner crashed the car, then carjacked rick heltebrake.

>> he pointed a gun at me, i an assault-type rifle. i stopped my truck, put it in park, raised my hands up. he said, "i don't want to hurt you. just get out."

>> reporter: but dorner quickly dumped that second vehicle. on foot, deputies chased him into the woods .

>> we have the suspect holed up in a cabin .

>> reporter: 1: 15 p.m., another volley of gunfire. two deputies are hit. one is dead.

>> we have an officer down.

>> copy. another officer down.

>> reporter: hundreds of rounds are exchanged between police and their suspect. a cbs news crew was just yards away from the firefight. the s.w.a.t. team arrived on scene. tear gas was fired through the window.

>> it's the one with the smoke. the one with the smoke is the target cabin .

>> reporter: an armored vehicle was called in to knock down the walls. the cabin caught fire, possibly caused by the tear gas grenades. dorner was still inside. police heard a single gunshot.

>> shots fired from inside the residence.

>> it would have been crazy for law enforcement officers to have gone in and tried to confront him inside the cabin .

>> reporter: with the suspect down at 6:30 p.m ., the six-day manhunt was finally over. miguel almaguer, nbc news, san bernardino county , california.