SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. It didn’t take ingenuity for Christopher Dorner to elude authorities for six days. He simply opened an unlocked door.
As law enforcement swarmed a mountain neighborhood searching for the fugitive ex-cop, Dorner hid in a condominium 100 feet across the street from a command post and a short distance where he left his burned-out truck.
On Friday, San Bernardino County investigators revealed Dorner died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head and defended tactics used during their search before a fiery gun battle ended an exhaustive manhunt.
Dorner, 33, is believed to have entered the condo through an unlocked door sometime Feb. 7, soon after he arrived in the resort area of Big Bear Lake after killing three people. He locked the door and hunkered down until the condo’s owners came to clean it, said San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon.
Deputies knocked on the door that first night but moved on when they found it locked and with no sign of a break-in, McMahon said.
“Our deputy knocked on that door and did not get an answer, and in hindsight it’s probably a good thing that he did not answer based on his actions before and after that event,” the sheriff said of Dorner.
When the owners went inside the condo, Dorner tied them up and fled in their car, leading to a chase and a shootout that killed a sheriff’s deputy.
While some residents have criticized authorities for missing Dorner so close by, the sheriff emphatically supported his department, raising his voice and saying deputies “performed flawlessly.”
“Understand we found the door locked at that condominium,” he said. “My instructions were that we were not going to kick the doors open to unoccupied residences or ones where nobody answered.”
Police initially weren’t sure if Dorner was killed by one of their bullets or by a fire sparked when they launched incendiary tear gas inside. Now they believe he died by his own hand as the cabin was going up in flames.