"Burn that f****** house down!": What really happened to Chris Dorner?

There seem to be differing accounts of the situation. Can we honestly discern fact from fiction? Photo: San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon

FLORIDA, February 13, 2012 — Even though it seems likely that he is dead, the sordid tale of LAPD officer-turned-suspected serial killer Chris Dorner continues to unravel.

In a press conference earlier tonight, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said he could not “absolutely, positively confirm” that the body found in the cabin his officers stormed yesterday was Dorner. 


READ MORE SBSD radio transcript reveals that police used “burners” on Dorner


“The suspect that we were following….matched his description,” McMahon explained. “His behavior, based on, uh, our deputies’ interaction with him inside the vacant cabin was consistent with Mr. Dorner’s activity prior to, and we’re not currently involved in a manhunt any longer. Our coroner’s division is working on trying to confirm the identity through forensics and we should know that at some point here soon.”

In responding to a question about how the fire inside Dorner’s cabin was started, McMahon replied as follows: “I can tell you that it was not on purpose, we did not intentionally burn down that cabin to get Mr. Dorner out. The tear gas canisters that we used, first off, we used a presence when we showed up, secondly, we used a cold tear gas….the next tear gas was that that was pyrotechnic, does generate a lot of heat. Uh, we had introduced those canisters into the residence, and a fire erupted.”

A reporter then asked about a conversation which had been recorded between officers speaking about the use of ‘burners’. McMahon explained what ‘burners’ are: “A pyrotechnic-type canisters”. 

Some harbor skeptical feelings about McMahon’s recollection of the Dorner standoff. Prior to the latter’s cabin going up in flames, police were heard shouting “Burn that m****rf****r right out!”, “Burn that f*****g house down!”, and “F*****g burn this m****rf****r!”, among other things.

So, what actually happened? Did the cabin have to be torched? 

Perhaps the best way to find out is by listening to the audio recording of those SBSD personnel who responded to the incident. It is available here, along with a partial transcript of what was said.

Regardless of the SBSD’s tactics, the point is that Dorner is all but definitely dead and he took far too many others with him. Was the SBSD a bit too aggressive in taking him down? Quite possibly.

Was he a clear and present threat to those around him during the standoff? Of course. 

In such a life-and-death situation, I would like to think that law enforcement did what was absolutely necessary. 

From my perspective, any conspiracy theories about the matter are likely just that.   


READ MORE from Joseph Cotto at The Conscience of a Realist



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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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