Dorner Siege: Police Deliberately Set Fire to the House
Many watched anxiously Tuesday as the events unfolded in Big Bear Lake, California. Police engaged in a gunfight with fugitive and ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, ending in his apparent death and the house he was trapped in being burned to the ground.
Dorner was allegedly spotted earlier in the day by State Fish and Wildlife officers in a white pickup truck. When they attempted to stop him, gunfire was exchanged and a small chase led to Dorner crashing his truck on the side of the road and fleeing on foot to a nearby house. After Dorner wounded several Sheriff deputies, more than seven agencies, federal, state and local authorities quickly surrounded the house. The LAPD SWAT Team was airlifted in to assist in the assault on the house.
By early afternoon, it was clear that police and federal officers on the scene had no intention of taking Dorner alive. This was made evident days before as LAPD officers shot two women delivering newspapers, when they mistook their pickup truck for one fitting the description of Dorner’s vehicle.
At approximately 2:15pm (PT) police flight crews issued an order to local news helicopters to stand down and stop broadcasting the live feed of the area and the events on the ground, citing a FAA TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction.) Local and national news stations quickly went to previously recorded footage—stopping live coverage from their helicopters.
Video: Police Radio Chatter During Assault on House
Although it’s unclear exactly what transpired after the news helicopters were ordered to leave the area and stop broadcasting, the police scanners were able to give us a glimpse into what was happening on the ground. At precisely 3:47pm (PT) on the San Bernardino County Sheriff System 7/8, you could hear officers discussing their plans.
Commander: “Uh **inaudible**, can you see through all the way through to the number three side?”
Officer: “Uh no, this is like a bedroom and it possibly goes to the right, I can’t see that far corner.”
Commander: “Primary units on the number three side, heads up, heads up, we’re porting the number 1 side right now, we’re porting the 1-2. **Inaudible** tear that whole wall down, that door and that window, make a big port window for me there.”
Dispatcher: “If you’re not on the tactical operation, clear this air.”
Commander: “Hey Steve, can you move the front door out, we’ve got, we’ve got guys saying there might be something underneath of it. Kind of pick it up, turn it, pull it out if you can.”
While we cannot be 100% certain, it is likely that authorities had some type of heavy machinery on site, in addition to their armored personnel carriers (APC). They were either using some type of demolition machine (i.e. SWAT tank) or their APC with grappling hooks to, “…tear that whole wall down, that door and that window,” as the SWAT commander said. Since the video feeds were cut and no footage has been released of the operation, we cannot know for sure. We’re assuming they did, unless they had a man there that could do it with his bare hands.
The commander asked the officer to “make a big port window.” Window porting is a breach tactic utilized by entry teams to cover as much of the structure as possible or as an additional breach point. It’s also used as a delay tactic, distracting the shooter to the area while other operations are being performed in separate locations of the structure. Finally, the commander asked the officer to, “move the front door… pick it up, turn it, pull it out if you can.” This again confirms, they were using some type of heavy machinery, with some level of accuracy, to do the demolition of the house—similar to the siege in Waco. The story continued.
Commander: “Hey Steve, uh, I got guys seeing something camouflage underneath that door, you got eyes on that?”
Officer: “I got two or three trash bags right here, that’s all I can see right now. The uh, blood spatter is in the far corner and you got a couple of mattresses laying up against the bed.”
Commander: “Ok, far corner, give me numbered sides, what corner?”
Officer: “Right across from the 1-4 corner.”
Commander: “I think you’re meaning the 1-2 corner, you’re on the 1, so to your left would be, the street side would be 2, do you mean that corner?”
Officer: “Yes, sir.”
Tactical teams have labels or “numbered sides” for the sections of the structure, enabling commanders to effectively communicate with entry teams about the location of certain items or individuals within the structure.
You could hear the commander and officer talking about locations of certain items within the home. This means that prior to the fire, officers gained entry to the house. As the door was removed, officers could see something camouflage underneath it. Was that Dorners body or some of his gear? Also, what was the “blood spatter” on the street side of the house the officer was talking about? Did a sniper take Dorner out, or was he wounded in the firefight with Police and was somewhere still hidden in the house? It appears they gained access to one of the bedrooms and it enabled the officer to see quite a distance into the house. Several minutes passed, the radio traffic continued.
Commander: “Alright Steve, we’re gonna go forward with the plan, with the burner.”
Commander: “We want it to, uh, like we talked about.”
“Burners” are police slang for gas canisters, which have been known to cause fires. 22 minutes later, after total silence, radio chatter starts back up again.
Commander: “Fire control 61 Lincoln, 7 burners deployed and we have a fire.”
Dispatcher: “Copy. 7 burners deployed and we have a fire.”
During the 22 minutes of silence, police were setting incendiary devices. Authorities placed at least seven “burners” or gas canisters in the house, knowing this would start a fire. Once the fire started, it became very clear that the authorities were going to let the house burn to the ground.
The house began to burn; police discussed different positions on the house and the progress with the fire. You could also hear Police discussing the basement that was in the house and how they were going to “let the floor burn through,” before anything was done. Just before the house was almost totally engulfed, police ordered online scanner feeds to be cut and told journalists not to put out tweets about the siege. It is unknown what the police were doing for the several hours the feeds were cut, no police chatter, no video from the helicopters… nothing. Total blackout.
Their premeditated plan to burn the house down was confirmed in a separate clip carried by CBS Los Angeles at approximately 1:29pm (PT), where police were heard saying, “Burn that f****** house down,” and “F****** burn this motherf*****!” That is a full two hours before the house was burned to the ground. Premeditated? I think so.
How were the police able to get close enough to tear down walls, doors, see inside the house and place seven incendiary devices, which started the fire, if Dorner were still alive and active, posing a threat to Police? You would think law enforcements objective would be to take him alive, if possible, and bring him to justice in a court of law. Not set fire to the house and burn him alive, right? It was obvious that the LAPD wanted Dorner dead; they never had any intention of taking him alive.
It’s unimaginable to think that the Police would want to intentionally burn the house down with Dorner still inside—yet according to the evidence, this is exactly what happened. How can we call this justice?
Journalist Mike Adams commented on the operation, “If the LAPD is going to abandon its mission of public safety and function as an armed vigilante justice squad, dishing out death sentences to those it believes are guilty — without a trial or anything resembling due process — then they might as well throw away all their badges as just call themselves the LA Gang Squad. Because that’s how they’re acting.”
Still, there are questions. Did Police officers want to execute Dorner for killing two fellow officers and wounding a third? Why would the Police want to burn him alive? And if Dorner were already dead when the fires were ignited, why ever would the Police want to torch the crime scene?
No one can condone Christopher Dorner’s actions. From all indications, the man was a criminal and needed to be brought to justice. This Police operation needs to be investigated and any criminal actions committed by Police, must be brought to justice as well. Any questions we had may never be answered; the entire crime scene was burned to crisp, along with Christopher Dorner.