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Police Standoff With Cop Killer
Aired February 12, 2013 - 21:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Everyone, we are live right now. You are seeing footage of a drama unfolding there at Big Bear Lake, California in a police standoff. A police standoff with we believe to be a cop killer and former LAPD cop himself inside that cabin. Straight out to John Phillips, KABC. John, you were right in the middle of telling me how this whole thing started. What was the inception?
PHILLIPS: Well, it starred in Big Bear when they found this car that was burnt to a crisp after the axle was broken, so that`s when the search, which had centered around San Diego, portions of Orange County, even spottings in Mexico or tips from Mexico, that centered in Big Bear. And that`s when police started going from cabin to cabin. Big Bear is a resort area, where a lot of people have second homes. There is a lot of homes that are empty up there. And they were worried that he would break into one of these homes and just go ahead and live there and eat the food and use the Internet and use the television, use all those services. So that`s where the search started.
He then, according to reports, broke into a house of two elderly people, had them tied up and took their car. That`s when the cops saw him today in this car, and there was a shootout that was going on from vehicle to vehicle. From that shootout, one officer was killed, one was injured, and he ran inside this cabin that we`re all focusing on right now. He`s inside the cabin, tries to escape. The police block him in, he goes back into the cabin. That`s the last time anyone has actually seen him. The cops then go in, and they`re trying to demolish the house. They`re trying to get into the house. And as the police officers are demolishing the house, they hear, according to ABC 7, a single gunshot. And from that point forward, Nancy, there is no gunshots coming out of that house.
GRACE: But, Anderson, John Phillips KABC is absolutely correct in the scenario that he just described, but it really goes back in my mind before that and him being the cop killer, the alleged cop killer, Dorner, being kicked off the LAPD. Then he writes this manifesto, a 20-printed-page manifesto in which you`re mentioned about how he wants his name cleared, and then he ends up, we believe, shooting the daughter and fiance of the cop that represented him at a disciplinary hearing.
COOPER: And not only that, Nancy, he actually sent me a parcel at my office at CNN, a parcel that had a DVD tape, and on that DVD was an interview with a man who authorities say is schizophrenic who said he was kicked by Dorner`s then partner, a female officer. Dorner also said the officer kicked this man unnecessarily, and that is what precipitated him finally being kicked off the LAPD.
Also in that parcel, the photo you just showed was a coin, what`s called a challenge coin given by Will Bratton, the then chief of police, to Christopher Dorner. It had several bullet holes shot through, two in the center, one off to the side. This is a parcel we received at CNN on February 1st. I actually didn`t see it and didn`t know about it until police announced there was this manhunt out for Christopher Dorner and then we realized this had been sent and obviously we contacted law enforcement about this.
GRACE: The other thing, Anderson, and back to you, John Phillips also, he is an expert marksman and he is armed to the hilt. And we know this guy, if he goes down, he`s going to go down in a, quote, "blaze of glory" -- John Phillips.
PHILLIPS: That`s right. And this is a guy who not only had a beef with the LAPD, he has a victim complex. He`s had beefs with a number of different organizations that he`s dealt with in the past, a number of different individuals. In his creed he wrote about different teachers who treated him wrong, he had problems with a former spouse.
This is a guy who thought the world was out to get him and this was going to be his revenge. He was going to prove to the world that he was right and he was mistreated all along, particularly by the LAPD.
GRACE: Out to Miguel Marquez joining me, CNN correspondent there at Big Bear. What`s happening, Miguel?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are just down the road about five or six miles, maybe 10 miles from where that house is still burning. We understand that -- from authorities here that there is very little chance that anyone got out of that house alive. There was some concern that he may have escaped, somehow got out of that house, but now it seems that it`s very unlikely that he did.
And if it is Christopher Dorner, that`s the other piece of this whole thing we don`t know entirely yet, I will tell you that they have opened up part of 38 to continue going up this road toward where that house is, so things are start to go settle down here. But there is an increasing sense that this thing is coming to an end, but it`s just a matter of crossing those T`s and dotting those I`s and figuring out if it was Christopher Dorner and how exactly he died.
There were reports, obviously, there was a single gunshot, but there were a lot of things in that house that could have exploded as things were burning. It`s not very clear if that was a gunshot or something else that went off, and really the only thing to conclude at this point is if it was Christopher Dorner in that house, it did not sound like he had hostages, either.
Every law enforcement official I spoke to said they were going in. When he tried to escape this afternoon, he did it with a smoke grenade. He did not seem to have hostages to shield him as he left. There was no indication of having hostages.
I understand from one law enforcement official that his cell phone popped on at some point during the afternoon as well. It`s not clear whether they were in contact with him this afternoon, but this is a guy who they`ve clearly been searching for. They believe that -- they believe that he was the person they were chasing all afternoon, that he was in that cabin, and that whoever was in there did not leave, Nancy.
GRACE: Back to Anderson Cooper joining us, CNN anchor, who has actually received messages from this guy, a former cop killer, former LAPD himself.
You know, Anderson, I know everyone thinks right now that he may be dead in that cabin, but this is what I learned from dealing with cop killers, don`t underestimate a cop killer, because they know all the tricks. They know all the ins and outs. He knows what the cops are trying to do right now, and he knows they`re going to come in looking for him.
I would not underestimate him. He`s got nothing to lose, Anderson.
COOPER: Well, certainly that`s been one of the big concerns among authorities all along, that this is not the average person accused of a murder. This is a person who is well aware of the tactics, the methods that the LAPD uses. And so they are actually trying to track down one of their own, or somebody who used to be one of their own.
And so, he is aware of any kind of hostage negotiation situation or any kind of tactical situation or just average law enforcement situation. He`s well aware of the way other police officers, his former fellow police officers, would be handling it. So that makes him all the more dangerous from a law enforcement standpoint.
GRACE: And he`s a sharpshooter. And he knows wilderness survival, to my understanding. So he`s a trifecta, a deadly trifecta here, Anderson. Somebody has to approach that cabin probably in SWAT uniform to protect themselves as best they can, but I wouldn`t count him down and out just yet.
And, Anderson, he`s not just a cop killer, a suspected cop killer. We can`t forget about the first two victims that we know about, the daughter, Monica Quan, and her fiance. And her only sin, she was the daughter of a police officer that tried to defend him at a disciplinary hearing. And she`s just sitting, I believe, in a car with her fiance and she`s murdered.
COOPER: And what this shows, Nancy, besides, obviously, if he`s guilty of it, a criminal mind and a bend toward murder, but it shows the planning that he undertook, that this was not somebody who just kind of snapped. This was somebody who, you know, wrote this so-called manifesto, who reached out to news organizations, who planned out these killings enough to actually research who the daughter was of the man who represented him and track her and, according to authorities, again, ultimately shoot them both and kill them both.
That`s what made him of such concern to law enforcement and why dozens of people who had been affiliated with him, connected with him or in some way connected to his being booted out of the LAPD have been under police protection for the last almost week now.
GRACE: And, Anderson, he`s got it planned out. You know, there is video showing a man who we believe to be him, Christopher Jordan Dorner, coming out of a dive shop with scuba equipment. This is right before he allegedly guns down Monica Quan.
COOPER: Also, allegedly attempted to get a boat, steal a boat from the San Diego area or perhaps go down to Mexico, and the only reason that didn`t work out, he tied up the owner of the boat, is that a rope got tied in the motor of the boat, the boat stalled and he wasn`t able to get that rope free, and he took off running, left his wallet somewhere in that area and then kind of went off the grid until his vehicle was found burning up in the Big Bear area, which is what allowed law enforcement to kind of focus on that big bear location.
GRACE: Now, it was after -- it`s my understanding, it`s after he shoots Quan and her fiance that he tries to get the boat and it unfolds that he comes up to two cops in Riverside sitting at the red light, and he opens fire on them. Is that your understanding, Anderson?
COOPER: He killed -- excuse me, in Riverside. He killed one police officer, shooting at his vehicle. Also shots were fired at another police officer in another county. And one of the things that law enforcement, Nancy, kept saying and was so concerned about is that he wasn`t -- he seemed to be on the offense.
He was taking the fight and taking the attack allegedly to the LAPD, to Riverside County sheriff`s department, to other law enforcement personnel. He was getting out of his vehicle and aggressively walking toward and firing, and it was of such great concern, and also we saw those kind of similar tactics today as well.
GRACE: Now, we are hearing conflicting reports, Anderson, whether Dorner actually emerged from the cabin. U.S. Marshals saying not sure if Dorner came out. Now, they`re saying it`s fluid, which means he could have come out, Anderson. He could be free right now.
COOPER: It`s possible. You know, they`re not confirming one way or the other. I think they`re being very cautious given what they know about this man, given what -- you know, the fluidity, if you will -- it`s probably the wrong word -- of this situation over the last couple hours.
This is a situation that has unfolded before our eyes just over the last four or five hours or so. So there is a lot they don`t know at this point. Last we heard, firefighting vehicles were moving up into place to try to put out this fire, which does indicate to law enforcement sources that we`ve talked to that they feel at least secure enough that they can bring in firefighters to put out the flames.
They don`t feel someone is going to be shooting back at them. That does seem to indicate that they believe the suspect was still in the structure and perished in that structure. But again, it remains to be seen, Nancy.
GRACE: Let`s go back on the ground. Miguel Marquez joining us, CNN correspondent.
Miguel, when the flames go up, it`s my understanding it`s not just flames, but didn`t -- the person inside that cabin, who we all believe to be Christopher Jordan Dorner, alleged cop killer, didn`t he set off some kind of smoke device, and experts believe he set off that smoke device so under the cover of the smoke, he could escape?
MARQUEZ: Yes, it sounded like during the afternoon there was a very tense standoff after those deputies were shot, one killed, another one injured. He set off a smoke device off the back side of that cabin in an apparent attempt to create a diversion, perhaps to escape. Authorities were able to force him to stay in that cabin and forced him back. He wasn`t able to get out, as far as they know.
I mean, you did hear Cindy Bachman, the spokesperson for the sheriff`s office, out here a little while earlier saying they can`t say with 100 percent certainty that he was in that cabin, but at the same time saying they`re almost sure he didn`t. They had the entire thing surrounded or mostly surrounded. They had helicopters overhead.
They never saw anybody exit that cabin, so they believe he was in there. They believe he is probably perished, but they want to make sure of all of that before they announce anything more.
And I`m looking around because we believe Cindy Bachman is going to come back to our location here and hopefully update us fairly soon on what they have out of that cabin, because as we understand it, they opened up traffic here. They`re bringing the fire department now to that cabin to extinguish the rest of that blaze, and get in there. And I think fairly shortly, we`re going to find whether or not the final chapter of this thing is written or do we have another chapter to go, Nancy.
COOPER: And, Miguel, it`s Anderson Cooper. I want to ask you, what do we know about what Christopher Dorner has been up over the last couple days? Because as this manhunt intensified, authorities didn`t hear from him. I saw a report in "The L.A. Times" that he basically taken a couple hostage and was kind of holed up in another cabin, not the cabin we`re seeing on fire, and was kind of laying low. Is that -- is that what you`ve heard?
MARQUEZ: This is the big question. When his truck broke down, you know, the axle on it was broken, and the supposition is it broke down on this rough road. He left fire equipment and guns in there, then he torched the whole thing and then he took off. It snowed very heavily that night. Most people, and myself included, believe he probably couldn`t have survived out there in that snow.
So it is possible that after he left that truck, the tracks went off into the woods and the authorities said they doubled back into big Bear. Did he then enter that house? Did he take those individuals hostage then while authorities were searching empty cabins? They weren`t searching cabins that had known residents in them.
So, it is possible they just didn`t get around to this cabin, that it was too far out of the way. That perhaps he was in there with them. Perhaps he was in another cabin and kept moving around and he only took hostage of two today. That part is not clear.
That`s something the San Bernardino, the sheriff`s office, has not been able to ascertain at the moment. But that may be where he was, holed up with two people who he had tied up, he was holding them, and at some point realized he had to make a break for it and felt it was his best chance to do it. Took this vehicle, they were able to get free, made a call, say they believed it was Dorner and off they went.
He ran into the individuals from the fish and game department who saw a truck with the man appearing to be Dorner go by them. They turn around, give chase. They start shooting at the truck -- I mean, this is the stuff out of movies. It`s unbelievable. He shoots at their truck, gets out of the white truck he was in, runs off to the cabin he was in, has another shootout with the deputies, he kills one, injuries another, and then we find ourselves where we are right now, him holed up for several hours, the fire starts.
Is he in there, is he not? Most authorities we`re talking to right now that believe he probably is, but they want to make 100 percent sure that it is him and he`s still in that cabin -- Anderson.
COOPER: Miguel Marquez, I appreciate it. We`re going to continue checking with you.
Paul Vercammen is joining us now on the phone. Paul, what are you hearing?
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, I`m here up on the mountain, and we are not -- let me just stress -- near this barricade situation. But what we`re hearing is this is all a standoff and that obviously today, Dorner surfaced for the first time when they saw his burning vehicle in these mountains in Big Bear Lake, California.
And basically the timeline is he was able to somehow steal a car right by where they were looking for him. We know that we saw sheriff`s deputies and SWAT team members combing the hillside because somewhere in there right by the Big Bear Mountain ski resort, Dorner was able to steal a car.
You heard from Miguel, he started coming down the mountain. He was seen by a fish and game official who gave chase. Dorner then shooting at fish and wild life officials, that officer not hurt. He subsequently gets the car and now we have a standoff with Dorner in that burning cabin.
GRACE: Anderson, when you take a look at this, again, I would not count him down and out in that cabin, because this is something he`s really been planning since about 2008 when he was first discharged from the LAPD.
Bottom line, he`s a homicidal former cop with a vendetta. I`m not so sure I would send in the Fire Department officials, because unlike the police, they`re not wearing vests, they`re not wearing protective gear as far as gunshots are -- go, anyway. They`re just protecting themselves against fire. And now, they`re going to go in to check this cabin where we know he is.
COOPER: Well, first of all, I mean, (a), he`s a suspect; (b), they`ve been very cautious over the last couple hours about securing this perimeter and not allowing the Fire Department up. And we`ve been watching that cabin burn now for well over an hour, most of it -- the entire structure pretty much engulfed in flames.
We do know, because I talked to the son of the owner of that cabin, there is a basement, there is an attic space, but firefighter sources I`ve talked to and heard from said there is no way anyone could survive inside that cabin. They feel no one left that cabin, so they feel whoever the suspect was, he remained inside that cabin.
I don`t think they would allow firefighters up into the area if they weren`t completely sure of themselves. You know, this is the San Bernardino sheriff`s department just lost a deputy today, and I think they want to be very, very careful, Nancy.
GRACE: I think you`re absolutely right. They`ve been watching it for so long. Let`s go out to the lines.
Out to Debbie in California. Hi, Debbie. What`s your question, dear?
DEBBIE, CALLER FROM CALIFORNIA: Hello?
GRACE: Debbie, are you with us? What`s your question?
DEBBIE: Hi, Nancy. Hi, Anderson. Christopher Dorner is only 33 years old, and in his manifesto he talked about his life being over, not having children or being married. My question is, have the authorities uncovered a recent breakup with a girlfriend, or something like that, that may have ignited his anger or something personal involving his personal life?
GRACE: You know, it`s my understanding that he had a failed marriage.
Out to you, Miguel. What do we know about his past?
MARQUEZ: Well, strangely, you asked. I read a temporary restraining order that Mr. Dorner took out on a woman some years ago that he had dated. He was a police officer then. He met her, he invited her out.
The first day they went out -- this is all in a temporary restraining order that he -- remember -- he took out on her. She then came to believe that he was not a completely sane person. She complained bitterly about him, about how strange he was, about some of his habits, everything from sleeping to sex to -- it`s a pretty racy read, this thing.
She even went so far as to take out sort of an advertisement against him on a Web site warning other women not to date Christopher Dorner, and it just was really, really angry and upset with him, and he responded with taking out a temporary restraining order against her. And then at some point during the process, he just failed to show up in court, finish out the process, the judge dismissed the entire thing and it went for naught. But he was clearly not the best thing to date, and he -- she did not have a very good time with him, and it got to be a pretty darn bad situation for them both.
GRACE: Well, that certainly putting it mildly, Miguel. She didn`t have a very good time with him.
This as we`ve got our eye on this cabin burning, as Anderson has just told us. Firefighters about to move in and check the cabin.
So, Anderson, you`ve been on this from the very beginning. Describe to me -- we`re getting tons of e-mails and calls about you actually getting communications from this guy.
COOPER: Right. Apparently, we received this communication February 1st. This was a parcel that was delivered, addressed to me, sent to my office. As you can imagine, as I`m sure you do, too, Nancy, you get a high volume of mail every day, and a lot of it sometimes, or some of it, is -- I don`t want to say crazy, but some of it is from people who have issues or are disturbed in one way or another.
We have a process in place for dealing with this kind of stuff. I actually did not even know this package was sent to me until -- I guess it was Thursday of last week when this manhunt was launched for Christopher Dorner. Police went public with his name. And then, you know, CNN management, our office, was alerted to the fact we had received this package.
All the contents of the package were photographed and we were able to put all of them on the screen, frankly. A DVD, a challenge coin that went to Will Bratton, the chief of the LAPD, with some bullet holes in it. It had a little message on it for Will Bratton.
And once we realized that CNN had received this, obviously, we contacted law enforcement and contacted Will Bratton`s office. But beyond that, there wasn`t any communication.
You know, I talked to a number of people who knew this man over the years, even before he was a police officer. And we have assumed that perhaps he was watching my program on CNN, because not only had he sent me a package, but he also mentioned my name in this manifesto, as well as a number of other reporters.
And so, we had a number of people who knew him trying to send messages over the air, essentially saying, give yourself up. If you have some gripes and grievance, whether it`s accurate or not, the best way to have your message heard is to give yourself up and ultimately get a platform through the justice system to voice your grievances. You`ll be able to give voice to your grievances, whereas if you continue to shoot people, if you go out in a hail of gunfire, people are not going to listen to what your grievance, what you gripe was, whether it was justified or not.
And recently, we`ve seen from the L.A. Police Department, they`ve actually decided -- initially, they said they would not reopen the original investigation to the allegations. They said they now will. Let`s see if they continue to do that.
But it`s obviously a very strange situation when somebody in this kind of situation reaches out to media, and when I realized, you know, subsequently that he had reached out to me.
GRACE: Right now to Paul Vercammen, CNN correspondent.
Paul, you have studied the inception of his anger. What do we know about him personally?
Paul, are you with me? Paul is joining us in Big Bear. He`s up in the mountain. Liz, let me know when we get Paul back.
In the meantime to Miguel -- Miguel, what you were telling us about the restraining orders and the protective orders, to me that`s the tip of the iceberg. This shows his dysfunction when trying to date women, but it goes even further than that, even to the core, to his core. He was so proud of being an LAPD. That was really his identity.
GRACE: And when he was thrown off the force for what I believe to be good reason, he really became unhinged.
MARQUEZ: Yes. And what`s most discerning maybe about this is that he was on the force to begin with. He spent about three years with the Los Angeles police force. He -- everything you read about his record and his time there, he was not a well-liked member of the force.
This is a guy who had a chip on his shoulder. He is somebody who called out everyone. He was always right. He never took -- you know, he never took advice or other people`s concerns into mind.
It`s somebody who made up his mind that he was right and there was no other way around it. When he was let go from the police force and then he believes that that force then, his military career to end as well. He blamed the police force for the estrangement between his mother and his family.
This is a guy who had a reason for everything that went wrong in his life and didn`t seem to want to own up to anything in his life.
So it`s -- he had sort of a permanent victim complex, and that final straw of being dismissed from the military, he says, because of the situation with the LAPD, that was the final straw for him, and that`s when all of this started.
If you read that manifesto of his, it all begins with the name. What is in a name? He wanted to get his name back. He wanted to reclaim his name. He was very dramatic and sort of Hollywood-like.
But it was -- you know, it was the twisted wanderings of a twisted mind, Nancy.
GRACE: Out to the lines. Kara (ph) in New Jersey. Hi, Kara. What`s your question?
KARA, CALLER FROM NEW JERSEY: Hi, Ms. Grace. First of all, I like to say that I`m honored to be speaking with you right now. I think what you do is great.
I want to ask you, what do you think -- what is your opinion on why someone like this and the people who go shoot in schools and all, why do they snap like that and shot and kill random people, people that they have no relationship with?
GRACE: It`s interesting, Kara, when you say shoot random people, if you take a look at this, and I`ve looked at this manifesto very carefully, and he names people. He`s very intent on reaching out to and targeting particular people.
Some of his very first victims were, in fact, not random people. One was Monica Quan, who was the beloved daughter of an LAPD officer that actually tried to defend him in a disciplinary matter and her fiance. Now, Quan was beloved by her basketball team. She was a Concordia basketball coach, with all sorts of honors, affection by all of those she worked with, her family.
And then, someone, and they thought for a moment it might be him, called her father and actually, isn`t this right, Anderson? Actually rebuked him for, quote, "not protecting his daughter well enough"?
COOPER: I`ve not heard that detail. I`m not aware of that, Nancy.
NANCY: Yes. And they tried to trace it. The call was up in Vancouver. They don`t believe it was the cope killer, the alleged cop killer Dorner, but that`s where this all started. A very calculated vendetta against police.
COOPER: I think you`re making an important point, that there are many different kinds of people who engage in shooting, and there are many different reasons they do. I think it`s important to point out the calculated nature of this.
You know, this was an incident that occurred, his being booted off the police force occurred years ago. The question is, why now did he -- I don`t know that snapped is the right word because there was clearly a lot of forethought in this. And that`s a question I think law enforcement is going to be looking at, Nancy.
GRACE: Everyone, we are live in the mountains of Big Bear. There you see what is near a standoff with an accused cop killer. This cop killer, we believe, has barricaded himself in a mountain cabin.
Joining me right now is a former friend of Dorner`s, James Usera, who met him back at Southern Utah U and met in college, played football together. James, you were actually mentioned in the manifesto. What can you tell us about Dorner?
JAMES USERA, FRIEND OF CHRISTOPHER DORNER, ALLEGED COP-KILLER: You know, my experience with Dorner was perfectly positive. He was a guy with whom I developed a relationship on the football field, and you know, that carried off into, you know, social atmosphere as well, but he was a guy who sounded to be intelligent and good sense of humor and a just, you know, a generally nice guy to hang around, real approachable, and just good and pleasant company.
GRACE: As a matter of fact, you are quoted as saying, he`s the last guy I would have expected to be in this kind of situation. Why?
USERA: He was a person for whom I always had a great deal of respect. I know he served in the military and also served as an LAPD officer, which was sort of the last I had heard about him. So, then, to have him come out and, you know, perpetrate these crimes is pretty shocking. He was a person who I always found to be honest and to live his life with a great deal of integrity and knew right from wrong and behaved in, you know, a perfectly appropriate fashion in all circumstances.
And so, to then take a turn like this and perpetrate these crimes is just -- again, it`s out of character for the person who I knew and is very shocking.
GRACE: Everyone, with me a former friend of Dorner`s, James Usera, is joining us. Dorner is the former LAPD officer suspected of going on a deadly rampage as a homicidal vendetta after being booted from his police career.
With me also, CNN`s Anderson Cooper who has been on this story, actually received communications from Dorner. When you`re listening to this description, Anderson, are you surprised?
COOPER: Well, you know, I think oftentimes, in cases like this, when you hear from people who knew a suspect, you know, I think we often hear them say, look, this is not the person I knew. And this was -- you know, I`ve talked to Mr. Usera before, and this is, you know, somebody he knew many years ago, and, you know, people evolve, people change, and it`s hard to predict what goes on in somebody`s mind.
And as you know, people have a lot of hidden parts of themselves. And certainly, this is somebody who, starting with this grievance with the LAPD, felt he was a victim of corruption, felt he was a victim of racism, felt he was a victim on many different fronts. And rightly or wrongly, you know, pointed to a specific incident as the cause of all this.
What we don`t know, Nancy, and I think what`s really critical for law enforcement to try to figure out over the next several days and weeks and months, even, is why now? Why -- I mean, there has been a long arc to Mr. Dorner`s activities and the incident of him getting booted off the LAPD occurred years ago, about three or four years ago.
So, why did it take all this time for him? Was there some other new incident? Was there some other new reason for him to go on what authorities, you know, have portrayed as, you know, a vendetta? And to go on this what authorities say is a killing spree, and we simply don`t know the answers to that right now.
GRACE: Well, Anderson, when you don`t know a horse, let`s look at his track record. Back to you, James Usera, you knew him at college, Southern Utah University, and you say he`s the last guy that you would suspect of this. He refers to you in the manifesto as a friend who taught him about nature, about hunting, about other outdoor activities.
My question is following up on what Anderson just said. I think Anderson is right. How did you see him interact with other people other than playing football? How was he around other people? Did you see him one on one? I mean, what was his life like?
USERA: he was -- you know, as I said, typical is not a very good descriptor, I know, but he was a typical 20-year-old guy. I mean, he was going to school and taken care of his score. And in terms of his social demeanor, again, he was approachable and intelligent and conversationalist and, you know, all those things that I think made him attractive to other people.
You know, to maybe respond to Mr. Cooper`s comment, my understanding is his dismissal from the LAPD was actually in the process of appeals up until about 2011, which may be part of the explanation for why this took so long to, you know, manifest in the form of what`s gone on in the past few days. So, I don`t have personal knowledge of that, but just sort of what I`ve heard through the grapevine.
But again, I mean, my experience with Chris was that he was, you know, socially normal. I mean, he got along with people and, you know, he was not the kind of person you would expect to lose it like this.
GRACE: Well, another thing to take into account as authorities are approaching this cabin. They`ve heard a gunshot come from it. They`ve seen a great deal of smoke come from it. Is he still in there? Is he armed? Is he alive?
Out to the lawyers, Chris Alexander, Renee Rockwell, and crime scene analyst, Sheryl McCollum. I mean, the reality is, Chris Alexander, he knows that a cop killer will face the death penalty, correct, so he has nothing to lose.
CHRIS ALEXANDER, ATTORNEY: Yes. No question about it, Nancy, particularly in light of the fact that this all appears to be so premeditated. And I don`t believe that the only opportunity he will have to stay out of the electric chair, I think, is an insanity defense. And there are a lot of things here that reflect a man who is severely mentally imbalanced.
RENEE ROCKWELL, ATTORNEY: I have to call this, Nancy, a murder- suicide. A police officer is not going to go to jail even to wait for trial, Nancy. He ended it on his own note.
SHERYL MCCOLLUM, CRIME SCENE ANALYST: He called it in his manifesto. I`ll go out in a blaze of glory. That`s exactly what he did here.
GRACE: Out to the lines. Kevin in Pennsylvania. Hi, Kevin. What`s your question?
KEVIN, PENNSYLVANIA: Hello?
GRACE: Hi, dear. What`s your question?
KEVIN: Yes. How you doing? OK. My question is, do you believe that Mr. Dorner`s anger is justifiable? You know, seeing that, you know, there`s been case cases like that with Rodney King and that, you know, he`s saying that it could be racism and prejudice. That`s how he felt. Do you believe that not saying killing anyone is right, but that his anger to, you know, go to this extent is justifiable?
GRACE: You know, Kevin, I think that -- I`m going to get Anderson`s opinion on this because he`s -- well, the guy has communicated with Anderson. But Anderson, I believe the reason he`s gone on this homicidal vendetta is because he was thrown off the police force in 2008. And I think that he is using the other incidents from the LAPD, such as Rodney King and other incidents, as a -- let me just say a cloak, a facade. He`s hiding behind that, and it is masking his anger at his own firing.
COOPER: You know, certainly when you look at his history with the LAPD, the process that he went through before getting removed, you know, is a process that they have in place for -- you know, if you have a grievance for having that investigated. The case -- the particular case in which he alleges that his partner, a female officer, unnecessarily kicked a handcuffed suspect and the suspect himself said this female officer kicked him, that case, you know, it went before a three-person board, one civilian on that board, two police officers on that board.
Testimony was heard, various witnesses were heard, statements were taken. That`s the process that they have in place. So, you know, people have grievances in workplaces all the time. You have to, you know, basically respect the process that`s in place. This case that he got so upset about boiled down to kind of a he said/she said, his word versus the female officer`s word, and that`s how the police department saw it.
You know, I don`t think he can ever justify the killing or taking of human life because you have a grievance, whether that grievance has some validity or not, and we may never know the answer to that. The LAPD says they are going to reopen it. They`re going to reinvestigate it, but we may never have the answer of what really occurred just as many situations end up being a he said/she said or he said/he said.
GRACE: But you know, Anderson, when you are trying to arrest somebody and you`re trying to, quote, "take them down" and put handcuffs on them and they are fighting you, you don`t know if they`re armed, you don`t know what they`ve got on them. They would like to kill you, sometimes. So, you know, arrests are never a pretty thing.
And I don`t know that there was kicking or was not kicking, but I don`t think that it is right for this guy, Dorner, to shroud himself and screams of injustice. I mean, Anderson, nobody likes injustice. You don`t like it, I don`t like it. But to do what he has done is not justified. And I don`t like him using injustice as some kind of a shield to veneer over what he has done, allegedly gunned down police officers.
And I keep going back to Monica Quan (ph). That girl, that young woman starting her life, engaged to be married, and was murdered, allegedly, by this guy because of some zany vendetta of him getting fired from the police department. And now, we`re hearing about injustice.
COOPER: Well, you know, this is certainly, you know, a police force that has had a history going back to, you know, the lost lives (ph) and before that the Rodney King, the rampart scandal in the rampart division in the LAPD. You know, they said they have made great strides since then, that they`ve made an effort to recruit more minority officers.
You know, all of those issues are very real. But again, nothing justifies, you know, these kinds of actions. Nothing justifies the killing, the taking of civilians or police officers. I mean -- and frankly, it`s one of the things that those who knew him tried to get across to him in these last couple days that, again, you know, no one is going to listen to your argument if you are out there killing people allegedly as a result of your supposed grievance.
The only way to get people to really listen to your argument is to give yourself up and to make your case. And, you know, there was an appeals process. He went through that appeals process, as you heard, and his case was deemed without merit. Now, again, they`re going to reopen it. They might find something different now, but it weakens your argument if you`re taking human life to somehow bolster your argument. It doesn`t make any sense and it`s reprehensible.
GRACE: Well, you know, I agree with what Rockwell said earlier. No cop is going to allow himself to be taken in on a cop killing and sit in jail and await trial. And there`s no way he would get a bond on this. He would be behind bars as an alleged cop killer, Anderson. Anderson, what`s happening on the field and do we still have Paul Vercammen with us?
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I`m here.
GRACE: Hi, Paul. What`s happening?
VERCAMMEN: We`re not near the standoff. From what I understand right now, it is a complete stalemate. And what we`re hearing is it`s basically law enforcement waiting to see what and when they should do about this. No doubt there`s a possibility that he might be dead, but as has been the case throughout this story, they were there in riverside when he was semi- conscious, they`re going to err on the side of safety.
GRACE: To Miguel Marquez, CNN correspondent joining us there in Big Bear, what are you hearing?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I`m desperately trying to get ahold of the San Bernardino County sheriff`s office to find out if they have anything more for us. What`s happened now is that this road that were on 38 had opened up at least Angelus Oaks. That`s about seven or eight miles up the road here. We`re hearing the same thing, though, that the fire department is moving in.
That certainly indicates that they are willing to believe that whoever is in there is no longer poses a threat or anything in that cabin no longer poses a threat. It`s going to be some time before they`re able to probably figure out where that body is and then identified if it`s badly burned. But everything that we understand from the press conference we had earlier to officials that I`m talking to now is that no one escaped that cabin.
The question, though, is it Christopher Dorner? Certainly, if it`s not, I`ll be shocked, but, of course, I`ve been shocked in this case before. It certainly looks like it is, but it`s a tense wait, still. I don`t think the police would be opening up this road up into Angelus Oaks if they had any concern that there was still somebody on the loose in the area.
It certainly seems from all signs that we`re getting here that this thing has come to a twisted end -- Nancy.
GRACE: You know what`s taking over the whole stage is Dorner, the alleged cop killer. Let`s talk just a moment about another one of the crime victims, Keith Lawrence. And with me is his coach from college, Remy McCarthy. Remy, thank you for being with us.
Thanks for having me, Nancy.
GRACE: It`s just it`s not right that it`s all about Dorner because his name is going to go down in infamy. I want to hear about Keith Lawrence. What can you tell us?
VOICE OF REMY MCCARTHY, COACH OF VICTIM, KEITH LAWRENCE: Well, I can`t tell you how much we appreciate that. We`ve -- you know, I appreciate his commanding officer at USC saying that Keith had been, you know, referred to as the fiance too many times, and I certainly agree with you that we`re going to learn way too much about, you know, this cop killer and this coward and not enough about Keith and Monica.
And I didn`t know Monica as well. Keith met her when he was at Concordia College which in Irvine after he went to our school, which is a community college, Moore Park. But, last year, during a pickup game with my team, he was playing and my daughter looked at one of our players and said to him, you know, see that guy out there?
That`s one of the few guys my dad`s ever coached that he said he`d let me marry. So, I think that pretty much tells you what you need to know about Keith.
GRACE: And I`m just sick about it. I`m just sick about it, Remy. I`m looking at these photos of this young man in the prime of his life. So much to look forward to. And what was he doing? Engaged to a former cop`s daughter. That was it. That`s all Dorner cared about. That`s it.
MCCARTHY: Yes, and what a sweet girl she was as well, you know? And in the short time that we got to know her, she -- you know, Keith was the most even-keeled guy that you would ever meet, and it`s really what made him such a great player. He was a point guard in college, and that`s like a quarterback in football. You know, those guys can`t lose their cool. They have to think on the go.
And he was terrific at that, and Monica was not quite like that, from what I understand. She wasn`t afraid to get in your grill and she was real fiery and they`re both very competitive.
But what a sweet couple they were, and, you know, we`re in the midst of a basketball season as is Ken Ammann, his coach at Concordia and the Concordia coaches, the women`s team and the women`s basketball team at Cal State Fullerton, and we put a lot of time and effort into these games, but they -- I mean, I don`t want to say they were meaningless, because if Keith were here, he`d sock me if I said that.
But it`s just hard to either get fired up about winning or just get too down about losing, because this is just, you know, perspective certainly is the right word, but this has hit all of us really, really hard.
COOPER: What we do know is that it`s too dark simply to show you live pictures right now. That`s why what you`re seeing are taped images that were taken about an hour or so ago when there was still daylight. Last we heard, as darkness came in, they had opened up the roads. They were allowing fire vehicles to approach the structure to try to put out the flames.
That was certainly an indication that they felt the situation was safe enough to allow firefighters up there. As you know, they hadn`t previously had firefighters there to battle the flames because they were afraid those firefighters might come under fire. But the fact they allowed fire crews up there would seem to indicate they felt the threat had been neutralized.
Does that mean Christopher Dorner was killed, that he was wounded and taken into custody? We simply do not know.
I`ve talked to a firefighter source who said that if Christopher Dorner or the suspect was inside that structure when the fire broke out and did not try to leave the structure, was taken out of that structure, it is very doubtful anybody could have survived the fire just based on the size of the flames and the size of that building, about 1,800 square feet wooden cabin with a basement, a basement tall enough to stand up in and also a smaller attic space as well.
So, there`s a lot we don`t know at this hour, but as I said, this is a situation that has been moving fast for the last several hours after several days of relative silence from the suspect, Christopher Dorner. As you know, once authorities began searching for him in Ernest in the Big Bear region after finding his truck aflame, he really went quiet.
And now, according to the "L.A. Times," to a number of sources, it is believed that he had held -- broke into a cabin, held a couple hostage, not the cabin you see. This was a different cabin elsewhere that earlier today he stole a vehicle from that couple, from that cabin, and then was intercepted at a roadblock by Fish and Game authorities.
They engaged in a shootout and then he kind of fell back to this cabin, not a cabin that -- we don`t know for sure, but we do not believe it`s a cabin he had previously visited. It seems like a cabin that -- a target of opportunity that was close to the roadblock where he was shot at and shot back at the deputies. We do know a deputy was killed, a San Bernardino County sheriff deputy was killed.
His name has not been released, and Nancy has been making a point to try to focus on the victims in all this, because as Nancy has pointed out, often, history remembers the killers and not the names of the victims. And we`ve been trying to focus on the victims as much as we can tonight, but we do not know the name of that sheriff`s deputy who was killed from San Bernardino nor the other one who was wounded.
He has been in surgery. We believe he is going to recover. That`s the last word we got from authorities. There`s going to be a press conference at around 12 o`clock east coast time with all the latest information, but our coverage continues. We`re going to take a short break and we`ll be right back.
GRACE: We are live right now and taking your calls there in Big Bear where we are waiting to find out what`s going on inside of the cabin that you are seeing there on the mountainside. Police believe that inside is former LAPD turned alleged cop killer, Christopher Jordan Dorner, 33, of La Palma. He is said to be targeting police in a bid to avenge his own firing from the LAPD.
Now, that was back in 2008, but there are the reports the appeal of that firing went until about 2011. What triggered the vendetta? Nobody knows, but what we do not know, there are four dead bodies. We are taking your calls. And, with me, Anderson Cooper who has been on the story from the very beginning, and he was actually received missives from Dorner.
When you look at this cabin on fire and think, knowing you, you`d probably think in some small way part of it, but actually, I think a significant waste since you are mentioned in the manifesto by this guy, and then he reached out to you in a very unusual way. How does that strike you, Anderson?
COOPER: You know, it`s certainly an odd situation to be in. It`s not the first time, you know, I`ve received correspondence. I`m sure you received it as well, you know, from people who believe they have been mistreated or have a grievance. You know, this obviously, given that there was a coin with several bullet holes in it, it obviously takes on, you know, greater significance, and obviously, we have procedures in order to deal with this.
I didn`t actually even know I had received this package. I didn`t open it myself. I didn`t know I`d received it until the manhunt was announced and I was informed that this person had actually sent it to me. And so, I looked at pictures of what was inside and the DVD as well. But, you know, I do think it`s very significant, and Nancy, I think we`re getting some breaking news right now from Miguel Marquez. Miguel, what are you hearing?
GRACE: Yes. Miguel?
MARQUEZ: -- other federal law enforcement sources that they do, in fact, have taken a body out of that cabin. We also know that Tom Fuentes is telling us that LAPD says that is the body of Christopher Dorner. The other authorities are waiting for absolute 100 percent confirmation, but LAPD officials are saying it is the body of Christopher Dorner in that cabin, that he did die in that cabin and probably, it`s possible he shot himself before burning to death or he just burned to death in that cabin.
But at this hour, we can report that that body is that of Christopher Dorner in that cabin and this thing has come to an end it seems like in the most tragic and bizarre way, that two more deputies, one killed and one badly injured had to suffer this on this day. Back to you guys.