THE manhunt for the former Los Angeles policeman suspected of three murders appears to have ended in a dramatic mountain cabin inferno.
IT IS believed that Christopher Dorner barricaded himself inside, engaged in a shoot-out that killed a deputy, and never emerged.
A single gunshot was heard from inside the cabin and a charred body was found inside.
If the man inside proves to be Dorner, the search for the most wanted man in America over the last week would have ended the way he had expected – death – with the police pursuing him.
Thousands of officers had been hunting for the former US Navy reservist since he launched a campaign of revenge against the Los Angeles Police Department for sacking him.
"We have reason to believe that it is him," said San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Cynthia Bachman. Until yesterday, authorities did not know whether Dorner was still near Big Bear Lake, a resort town about 80 miles east of Los Angeles, where they found his burned-out pick-up truck last week.
After barricading himself in the cabin, there was a second gun battle with San Bernardino County deputies, two of whom were shot. One died and the other underwent surgery.
The man believed to be Dorner never came out of the cabin, and a single shot was heard inside before the cabin was engulfed in flames.
A SWAT team had earlier surrounded the cabin and using an armoured vehicle, broke the windows. The officers then pumped gas into the cabin and blasted a message: "Surrender or come out." The SWAT vehicle then tore down each of the cabin's four walls, like peeling back the layers of an onion, the source said.
Dorner began his run on February 6 after police connected the murders of a former police captain's daughter and her fiance with an angry Facebook rant they said he posted.
Threats against the LAPD led officials to assign officers to protect officers and their families.
Dorner tried to steal a boat in San Diego to flee to Mexico and then ambushed police in Riverside County, shooting three and killing one. Jumpy officers guarding one of the targets shot and injured two women delivering newspapers because they mistook their pick-up truck for Dorner's.
Police found charred weapons and camping gear inside the truck in Big Bear.
Dorner's anger with the department dated back at least five years, when he was sacked for filing a false report accusing his training officer of kicking a mentally ill suspect.
Dorner, who is black, claimed in the rant that he was the subject of racism by the department and fired for doing the right thing.