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THE SITUATION ROOM
California Manhunt Turns Violent; Dorner Surrounded By Cops
Aired February 12, 2013 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'm Wolf Blitzer.
Once again, we want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. Anderson Cooper is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Chris Cuomo is here as well.
Chris, as we await the news conference, I think there's a limit to what law enforcement is going to be able to tell us right now, since this is clearly a very ongoing situation, a very dangerous situation.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely, Wolf, and let's be honest. That's not what matters.
What matters is the authorities are doing everything they can. Anderson and I are sharing reporting here from a tactical expert who's telling us there's very well cause for a scramble right now on the part of law enforcement. Why? Visibility issues. Darkness is coming there. They're in a remote area.
They will have to set up nighttime perimeter for vision. They do have tactics and assets that will allow them to discern if somebody's in the home, infrared scanners and things like that, but they're a little limited because they're developed by proximity. You can't get that close to a place.
What we're looking at right now is a secure vehicle. This is from earlier on, but they have vehicles like that that can allow them to get closer and also send a message to people inside that they have serious assets. But right now, Wolf, may well be time of the essence for authorities to set up for darkness and make sure that there can't be escape, make sure that they are in the best position. And that's what matters most, not what we know about the situation.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Chris mentioned infrared, and that's been one of the difficulties. The weather has really not been cooperating with authorities, especially several days ago, a storm system moving in. They had air assets in place with infrared cameras, but they weren't able to get those choppers in the air in order to try to make the most of the tracking abilities that they had, but clearly, on the ground now, they are able to focus on this one house, if that's where they have him cornered.
BLITZER: And you're looking on the left part of your screen the microphones there set up in Los Angeles. We're expecting to hear from the LAPD spokesman, Andy Neiman, who's going to be going to those microphones and updating us on what he can tell us. I'm sure there will be limits on what he can say.
We are also, Anderson, being told that the two sheriff deputies who were wounded, injured in this latest shoot-out within the past couple of hours, allegedly with Christopher Dorner, have been airlifted to the Loma Linda Medical Center, this according to the sheriff's spokeswoman.
But we have no update on their condition. We just know that two more sheriff's deputies have been injured, have been wounded in this gunfire exchange, allegedly with Christopher Dorner.
COOPER: And the initial report seems to indicate that they were actually separate, that they weren't deputies who were together at the time. They were actually separate incidents, physically separate from each other, and that's when they were injured in this shoot-out. Again, you see authorities now walking towards the microphones.
So we should be hearing very shortly the latest that they're at least willing to divulge.
BLITZER: And we assume, Chris, they're going to also be answering reporters' questions. We will hear what they have to say. It's interesting that this is the LAPD, but San Bernardino Sheriff's, they're really two hours away, but obviously, the LAPD has a huge, huge interest, since Christopher Dorner's a former LAPD cop.
CUOMO: Also, it's all family at this point. State, local, municipal, federal. Everybody's working together. As Tom Fuentes, the former FBI guy said to us early on, they are not used to dealing with somebody with this type of tactical know-how, certainly one of their own. He made a point to us that this type of domestic terrorism of cop on cop is almost unprecedented.
So, of course, the authorities are taking this personally. And we will see what they have to tell us.
BLITZER: Let's listen in.
COMMANDER ANDREW SMITH, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: Good afternoon, everyone. I'm Commander Andrew Smith. I'm the commanding officer of media relations and community affairs group for the Los Angeles Police Department.
This is our daily 3:00 press briefing. I have a very small amount of information I can provide to you from what's happening up in San Bernardino County right now. This information is from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office, so let me put a caveat on it that this is very early, very preliminary information.
Today, at about 12:22 p.m., San Bernardino Sheriff's were in the hunt for Christopher Dorner up in the big bear area. They received a call of a stolen vehicle in the 1200 block of Club View Drive. When they responded there, they received information from the person reporting that this stolen vehicle was stolen by an individual that appeared to be very similar to Christopher Dorner.
They immediately conducted a ground and an air search for this vehicle and they were able to locate it at Highway 38 and Glass Road, where the suspect in the vehicle fled into the forest. Shortly thereafter, this individual barricaded himself in one of the cabins there and an exchange of gunfire occurred.
During that exchange of gunfire, two officers were injured. They have been airlifted to a local hospital. Right now their condition is unknown. The Los Angeles Police Department has sent resources out to the San Bernardino County Airport. Our resources are waiting there for authorization from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's to assist them.
So this is a San Bernardino County Sheriff's investigation. This is their lead. They have the incident command out there. We are there to support them, only if asked. That is as much as I have on that particular incident out there.
A quick update on how the search is going from the JRIC and our side. Right now we have 145,000 clues that our officers are working on. They're following up on all of those clues. Obviously, some of them are panning out. Obviously, some of them are dead ends, but we're continuing to do this search and continuing to work our clues while the events up in the San Bernardino Mountains unfold.
I will take a couple quick questions, but again, my information is very, very sketchy.
SMITH: Well, we're not positive. And until we get this guy in custody, until he's in handcuffs and in jail, we're not going to know for sure. They said he was similar in appearance. He was up in that area at one time. So, you know, the likelihood is that it's him, but we can't say for sure.
SMITH: I can't confirm the hostage report. I have heard that obviously through media sources.
We were listening to the scanner and getting much of our information from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's. I can't confirm that anybody was held hostage at this time. That's part of the San Bernardino side of the investigation and that has not been confirmed yet.
SMITH: I can't give you specifics about what resources we have up there. We believe this individual may be watching TV or may have some access to media, so I don't want to tip our hand as to what we're sending out there.
To that end, we have asked also the media that have airships in the area to not have your air units show any live broadcasting closeups of what our SWAT officers, what the San Bernardino SWAT officers are doing up in that area. The reason for that, obviously, it will put our officers at an extreme tactical disadvantage if the suspects know what our folks are doing.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) exchanging gunfire with the California Fish and Game Board?
SMITH: I don't know what the involvement of the California Fish and Game was at this time. My understanding, it's San Bernardino County Sheriff's. That's from their press office, but I don't have an update from the California Fish and Game. I don't know what their involvement is at this time.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) This has been a huge manhunt. It sounds like this is him. Can you talk about the sentiments, the feeling among you officers now that it looks like he may be caught?
SMITH: Everyone is very hopeful that this thing ends without any further bloodshed. We hope we can take this guy into custody and we hope that he doesn't hurt anybody else. We hope none of these officers were seriously injured, which we don't know at this point.
The best thing for him would be to surrender and allow us to take him into custody and he can face the criminal justice system. There's a tremendous sense of apprehension among our officers here, concern about the officers that are up there. And until this guy's in handcuffs and until he's in custody, none of the people in our department are going to rest.
QUESTION: What about your manpower? You said you guys are waiting. What kind of resources did you send up there?
SMITH: I can't give the specifics on what resources we sent. We did send some resources. They're waiting at the airport in San Bernardino now and we are waiting to be called in by the incident commander if we're needed. Right now, we haven't been needed.
By the way, people have been asking if the chief of police has gone out there. Chief Beck has not responded out there. He's still here.
QUESTION: What kind of vehicle did he steal?
SMITH: I don't have information about the vehicle that this suspect allegedly took. I have seen some videotape from the media members on that vehicle. I don't have the information about what that vehicle was.
QUESTION: Commander, if he is watching this, what message do you have for him right now?
SMITH: If he's watching this, the message for himself is, enough is enough. It's time to turn yourself in, it's time to stop the bloodshed, it's time to let this event and let this incident be over.
QUESTION: Commander, your first priority is to take him alive and to put him under arrest?
SMITH: Well, obviously, our first priority is the safety of the community around there. I'm sure the San Bernardino Sheriff's are evacuating people in that area and making sure that all the citizens there are safe and that area is locked down.
Once that area is locked down and all the citizens in that area are safe, then we will let the San Bernardino SWAT team to go in there and do what they do best, which is to get this guy hopefully in custody and hopefully without any bloodshed. One more question and then I have to do.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) you guys actively talking or do you have to kind of wait until it dies down? (OFF-MIKE)
SMITH: A couple things on that. San Bernardino County Sheriff's are in our JRIC. So they're embedded with a team of officers that are all working together to solve this thing. And they have been there since the beginning.
We also sent one of our assistant chiefs out there to San Bernardino. He's in their command post. We're getting real-time updates from them to our command, so we know what's going on up there. Probably a very good exchange of information. So we work really well with our law enforcement partners throughout Southern California. OK?
QUESTION: What kind of weapons (OFF-MIKE)
SMITH: I don't know what -- the weapons that he had. I know he had reports of all different kinds of weapons. I'm sure what he using up there in this exchange of gunfire.
That's all we have time for right now. I will be back out again. If anything big breaks on this, we will be back out again, and we will give you a further update and our update will be right here. So this will be the place to be.
I have a Spanish speaker here who can answer any Spanish media questions for you and I will turn it over to Captain Rigo Romero.
BLITZER: All right. So there you have it, the latest from the commander, the spokesman for the LAPD, Andrew Smith, telling us they are not positive, although they believe it is likely that Christopher Dorner is in this barricaded cabin there in Bear Mountain, outside of Los Angeles, about a two-hour drive.
They cannot confirm that there are hostages. They say they don't know whether or not there are hostages. The suspect may be watching TV. As a result, they have asked the media to avoid any live broadcasts from the area, broadcasts that potentially could help the suspect in this particular case.
And they say, and Andrew Smith, the LAPD commander, said, enough is enough. Give yourself up if you are watching TV. Enough is enough. Face the justice system right now.
Anderson is here. Chris Cuomo is here.
Anderson, this is a very delicate situation, because I suspect they really don't know if there are hostages inside.
COOPER: Yes, it seems like this cabin is really the second cabin that Christopher Dorner has been in. "L.A. Times" is reporting that for days now, he has been in another cabin, with -- and he held a couple hostage inside that cabin. That's where he's sort of been waiting it out.
As you know, there's been sort of radio silence on his end. No activity that authorities were aware of. This is the first time he's been spotted really, I think, now in two days, maybe even three days. And it seems like this is another cabin he's gone to. "L.A. Times" is also reporting, according to just one source, he fired at a sheriff's deputy from inside the cabin, then tried to leave through the back of the cabin, set off a smoke bomb, opened up fire, shot another sheriff's deputy there, and was driven back inside the cabin.
CUOMO: There's good news and bad news in this situation as it develops. The good news is, there are a lot of assets on the ground. Local, state, and federal officials are working together. They have resources to deal with him being alone or with someone else.
The bad news is, of course, there is unknown, and we do know there's already been a lot of gunfire today. Earlier, we heard a report from a local reporter on KCBS, who was very close to the scene, before all the authorities were there, when he was being chased because of a stolen vehicle, and this is what we heard in the background. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: What that tells us, obviously, a lot of gunfire over an extended period. We know that the suspect is suspected to have 30 weapons. We know he's trained. We believe this would have been the gunfire volley that led to the two deputies being injured and now being medevaced for emergency medical services.
And that is what took us up to this point, where now the suspect is inside, but we don't know if he's alone. There are varied reports that we're hearing about, about how this happened. But we just really don't know. And we have to take the fact that the authorities are being very cautious to mean that they may suspect there is more potential life at risk.
BLITZER: It sounded like a war that was going on, that gun battle that we just heard.
COOPER: Yes, and there is certainly a lot of kinetic activity. You could actually hear one person yelling to the reporter, get the F. out of here, and the reporter, apparently his local station tried to make contact with him, wasn't able to make contact with him, but later found out he is doing fine. His name is Carter Evans, local reporter there for the CBS affiliate.
Let's check in with our Casey Wian, who's standing by.
Casey, in terms of where this thing stands now, just for folks who are just joining us, watching us around the world and here in the United States, can you just kind of give us a sense of what we heard from that press conference, what we know and what we don't know?
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the way it started was this afternoon about 12:30 local time, 3:30 Eastern, there was a report of a stolen vehicle near the Big Bear ski lift areas, near the resort areas. We don't know exactly how close to the resorts that vehicle was stolen, but that vehicle was stolen right near the ski resorts.
Deputies began a pursuit, also set up a roadblock, because there were indications that this was someone who looked like Christopher Dorner. There was a shoot-out, apparently, at that roadblock. The vehicle was spotted at a place called Glass Road and Highway 38, 27 miles away from where that vehicle was reported stolen, 27 miles around the mountain and down the hill, toward the more populated area of Southern California.
Dorner then got apparently into another shoot-out, and then escaped into this cabin where there are reports that he may or may not have hostages. "The L.A. Times" reporting that there were hostages in a cabin that he was holed up in over the past several days.
What is clear, though, is that he was trying to escape, trying to get down that mountain, and law enforcement officers have been able to stop him from at least doing that, but right now holed up inside a cabin, very dangerous situation -- Anderson.
You know, we have actually just been given a report from "The L.A. Times," in which a woman named Candy Martin has identified a vacation cabin from the television that's been surrounded by police. She called the authorities to let them know that that cabin is just one in a cluster of seven cabins that she owns along Route 38 near the community of Seven Oaks, which, again, Casey, as you just said, that's Route 38, Highway 38 and Glass Road, that's where that shoot-out occurred in the stolen vehicle.
This woman, Candy Martin, has told police that the cabins actually are supposed to be empty on Monday, had no cable, no phone, and no Internet service, which is obviously significant, because authorities would obviously be concerned about his ability, Dorner's ability to monitor what they are doing via television, via radio, or via the Internet.
But, again, this is just one source telling "The L.A. Times" that there is apparently no cable, no phone, or no Internet service in there, and also no firearms inside that belong to the owner of this cabin. What Christopher Dorner may have with him, though, we certainly don't know, Casey.
BLITZER: These are roadblocks, by the way, that we're showing our viewers right now.
Casey, go ahead, but I just wanted to let our views know these are roadblocks that people are checking vehicles. Obviously, they don't want to let Dorner, if in fact he is in this area, escape. You see them opening up the trunk. They're watching all these cars. These, in fact, are live pictures we can show our viewers.
These are roadblocks, local law enforcement authorities, Chris Cuomo. They're on the scene. You see the cars backed up. I think each car is going to be checked before that car is allowed to leave.
CUOMO: Probably. This is an abundance of caution. You don't know what the understanding on the ground is. You always want to err on the side of caution.
That's what they're doing. It's obvious to anybody watching right now they're doing what is a basic vehicle search. Why? We don't know. And again it's not really important that we do at this point. The man who they want the most, supposedly, they know where he is. Maybe they're not 100 percent sure where he is, so they're acting to make sure as well as they can that anybody who leaves the area is not the suspect.
BLITZER: As you heard the commander of -- the LAPD spokesman, Andrew Smith, say, they're not positive, they say it's likely that Dorner is inside that cabin, but he specifically said, and I'm quoting him now, we can't say for sure. So they don't know.
CUOMO: Well, he's certainly very well armed, whoever's in that cabin, and he was able to exchange gunfire with two deputies very effectively. So if, by some chance, this is not the man who they believe to be the suspect, he is a very dangerous man, because he's already put two sheriff's deputies in the hospital.
COOPER: It's interesting. We have heard a big sort of change from the LAPD just in the last couple of days from when this incident began, talking about Dorner and about his allegations of racism, his allegations of corruption, his allegations of mistreatment by the LAPD. Initially, the LAPD ruled out the idea that any of these allegations needed a second look.
And we have now heard from the chief, just yesterday or the day before that, saying, in fact, they will open up an investigation. They will look bank at the initial incident that precipitated Chris Dorner from getting fired from the Los Angeles Police Department. Not in any -- they wanted to make sure not in any way that it justifies anything that he has done, but just to kind of allay the public's concern, any concern that's out there, because there has been, as you know, Wolf, some sympathy for this man.
You have seen it on Twitter, you have seen it on the Internet, Facebook sites popping up, given the history of the Los Angeles Police Department, the incidents of, you know, in Rampart most recently, but obviously the Rodney King incident, the Watts Riots. There's a history with this department and they have made great strides over the last couple of years to try to present a new face, to get a lot more minority officers in the LAPD, but certainly, the LAPD does seem concerned about the public relations problem that they may have and they have been trying to address that by saying that they're going to look at the allegations.
CUOMO: They have a real problem. I'm sure you're seeing it online, and I'm getting a lot of it, because I seem supportive of the police, but of course we are.
If you have an interest in justice, fairness under law, you have to distinguish about what you believe about a history from a current set of circumstances. It does not matter whether or not police are infallible. Of course they are not. What's going on in this situation, with this suspect, is that claims that were made on a review of the record of his dismissal show them to be baseless.
Yes, they are reopening it. That's good. Fresh eyes are always good eyes. Truth is the goal, but people have to be careful that this is not about calling the police perfect. This is about dealing with what is before us. The man who is believed to be a suspect in this situation is a killer. He is targeting police, and that is wrong, no matter what the history involved here. To conflate the two is a mistake. Of course, people are going to be upset. Of course, people will have reasons to be suspicious about the authorities, but let's keep our eye on the ball here.
To everybody who wants to assess the situation right now, we have a dangerous man, believed to be in a cabin, and authorities are searching cars. And in this case, there is only one way to see it, and it is that this man needs to be stopped.
BLITZER: No justification for killing innocent civilians. You may have some reason for being angry, but there's no justification for going out and killing three people, as he allegedly has done.
We're watching the cars being checked as they leave this area of the Big Bear, California, area. They believe they have the suspect cornered, but they're not 100 percent sure. This is what the commander of the LAPD, the spokesman, Andrew Smith said a little while ago, when he was asked to address Dorner directly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SMITH: If he's watching this, the message for himself is, enough is enough. It's time to turn yourself in, it's time to stop the bloodshed, it's time to let this event and let this incident be over.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: The great fear, Anderson, though, is that -- and we have seen these kind of incidents over the years, and sometimes it ends the way the police spokesman just hoped it would, but very often it doesn't.
COOPER: Yes. And certainly, for those who have read his manifesto, so-called, there's been a lot of belief that there's not really many other ways for this to end but some sort of confrontation, that this is not somebody who -- you know, some people who knew him over the airwaves over the last several days, with the hope that maybe he was watching some of these programs, some of these people who he said he respected, you know, were trying to send out the message that the best thing you can possibly do, if you want to get your message, if you want to get your grievance and your gripe across is to give yourself up.
Then you will have a chance to be heard. If you try to go out in a hail of bullets, the chance of, you know, other people hearing your message, it's not going to be heard, given the way you have chosen to end this. Clearly, that message has not gotten through. We now see what appears to be this man cornered in a house, this entire area surrounded, as you see, vehicles being searched in a wide perimeter around this area.
And, you know, as Chris pointed out earlier, with night falling, you know, it adds some other challenges, but they have a lot of assets in place. We also heard from the LAPD earlier that they have a number of what he's described as LAPD resources waiting at the airport, waiting to be called in by the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.
They have not been called in. I assume those resources would be SWAT teams, tactical units. Right now, this is an operation being run by the San Bernardino Police Department or sheriff's department and the LAPD is sort of watching.
CUOMO: And what we're watching on screen right now seems to be a routine check of vehicles. But let's bring back Tom Fuentes.
He's a former assistant FBI director.
Tom, if you're there, is this what it seems to be? What would be the tactical response going on here?
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, right now, they're trying to set up on that cabin and get all of the resources near that cabin that they need and establish communication with him, to see if there's any way to learn for sure that he has hostages or does not have hostages.
As far as the roadblock checks that you're seeing now, that would be a little bit further away. They would have established the perimeter around the area and would be checking, you know, if residents returning to their homes. Then they're going to let them in and they're going to check on that and make sure he doesn't have an accomplice coming to help him. Another factor in this is that during this past week, while he's been, you know, loose, you do have the situation where, you know, now we know that he's invaded one home at least. Many of the homeowners in that area are likely to have firearms. They're in a remote, mountain, wooded area, and police response might take a little bit of time.
So you would have hunters and you would have sportsmen and people that may have, legitimately have firearms in their home that he may have obtained. So even though he had a lot of weapons to begin with, he could have been in a position to obtain additional weapons, additional ammunition, just from the homes up in that area. Or if he broke into cabins that were unoccupied during this past couple of days, there may have been weapons in those cabins that he obtained.
So that's another factor in this, as far as whether he's very heavily armed or not.
CUOMO: It's a good point. So how do you deal with that going forward? What do you think the different steps are that have to be gone through by authorities to make sure that this as safe as possible?
FUENTES: The steps they're taking is, as the tactical units deploy, they're going to try to get positions of observation from every angle, all 360 view of that cabin, but at the same time, try to keep their tactical officers in as much position of cover and concealment as possible, to not expose them to gunfire from him.
So that is going to be the nature of this, is that they know that he's got some weaponry with him. They don't know the current caliber of weapons that he probably has, but he has something, and they're going to try to stay out of that line of fire if he comes out.
And you also have the possibility that he could just come running out of that cabin guns blazing. So they do have to be in a position to respond if he tries to do some kind of a one-man cavalry charge coming out of that cabin.
BLITZER: What does it say to you, Tom, that they're checking all the vehicles in that area right now? If they believe that he's cornered or he's pinned down inside a cabin, barricaded inside a cabin, what does it say to you that they're going through, checking every one of these vehicles, making them stop, opening up the trunks? They have got a lot of police in the area and long lines waiting to move.
FUENTES: They have a number of concerns there. I mean, obviously, they want to make sure that they're screening residents only and that they're safe and that there isn't somebody holding them hostage, driving them back into the location.
They want to make sure he doesn't have an accomplice coming up there to help him out, even someone he doesn't know. It could be some sympathizer that's been watching the broadcast for a week and decided that they're on his side and they are going to give him some help. Or it could a vigilante-type situation.
He's killed people, he's ruined families. He's committed a terrible tragedy in a number of homes in Southern California, and plus, you have 50 family members that have been in fear and under siege for the last week since the manifesto came out. So you might have somebody coming up there to try to take justice into their own hands.
So there's any number of possibilities that could be bad, as far as the vehicles coming to that area. They just want to make sure that the people that are there belong there and are safe.
COOPER: Tom Fuentes, we heard a report. Again, the source of this is the "L.A. Times," a source -- that a woman who believes she owns the cabin that police have now surrounded, the sheriff's department has actually surrounded, she's actually called into the authorities, telling them that that cabin, that there is no cable service, no phone service, no Internet service, and that there were no firearms in that particular cabin.
Now, as you pointed out, we don't know how many other cabins he's been over the last couple of days. There was another report from "The L.A. Times" that he actually held a couple hostage for several days in a cabin. We don't know if there were any firearms in that cabin. But in terms of not having phone, not having Internet, not having TV, how important is it for authorities right now to try to actually establish connection with this man, or given the crimes they believe he has committed, at this point, are they just more interested in surrounding this and kind of waiting him out?
FUENTES: No, they're going to want to try to get communication with him as soon as possible, and especially if there is a possibility of hostages, which there is. They want to try to verify that as soon as possible.
So the police will be trying to get a phone to him, if he doesn't have one in there. They will be trying some method. In the beginning, it's going to be literally shouting on a megaphone from behind a tree, trying to establish some rudimentary communication, until you can get an electronic means to have a more effective or efficient communication method.
But that would be the procedure here, is you're going to want to get that communications established with him as soon as possible. And, again, whether he has TV coverage or not, this is somebody who's trained. It's not an ignorant fugitive out there that's never dealt with law enforcement or doesn't know specific tactics.
He's been trained by LAPD, he's been in the military, he knows exactly and common sense, as well as training, would tell him exactly what the police are doing up there and how they're going about it and what their positions are likely to be and what their methodology and process would be in trying to resolve the tactical situation.
He'd probably be well aware of the differences between how they would handle this if he's strictly barricaded by himself or barricaded and holding hostages who are innocent in this matter. So this is not going to be any mystery or surprise to him what the police are trying to do.
BLITZER: Tom, hold on for a moment, because Chris Lawrence, our Pentagon correspondent, is standing by with more on his military training and what kind of capabilities he might have right now.
What -- what is the background on that, Chris?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, in his manifesto, Dorner said he was an expert shot. The top shot in every unit that he's ever been in. That's a bit of an exaggeration, but he is very good.
Basically in the military, above the base line that every service member needs to qualify, there are three levels above that that indicate how qood of a shot you are. They are marksman, sharpshooter and the highest being expert. He qualified as a marksman with the rifle, and he qualified as an expert with the 9-millimeter pistol. That's basically the highest level that a normal sailor could achieve with the gun qualification. So he is a very good shot.
In addition, he's not a normal sailor like you would think of going out on, say, an aircraft carrier. He's been involved in sort of these riverine patrol, the modern-day equivalent of the brown Navy that we saw in the rivers back during the Vietnam era. He's been involved in security, doing security for oil platforms.
So he has had combat arms training, and we also know that as part of that training, as part of his qualifications, he's tested and become somewhat proficient in weak side shooting. That's something that a lot of shooters struggle with. They're very good with their strong arm -- usually it's the right arm -- but may have troubleshooting with the weaker arm, the left arm, so to speak. That can come into play if, for example, your strong hand is damaged or hurt, or if you're concealed in such a way that you want to keep your body concealed and not present that big of a target. If you can shoot with the weak arm, it's going to give you more flexibility in terms of staying concealed, because you're able to switch hands and shoot with both -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And we're showing our viewers these checkpoints that have been established for everyone, basically leaving this area, Big Bear, California, where the suspect is believed to be holed up. They're making every car stop. They're going through the trunks. They're looking through the back. They're making sure that there is nothing suspicious. So there are long lines right now.
And Anderson, as we see this unfold, you can see there are a lot of local, state, federal authorities and some military personnel, as well.
COOPER: Do we still have Tom Fuentes with us, standing by?
BLITZER: Tom, are you there?
FUENTES: Yes, we am.
COOPER: Tom, I'm just wondering from a law enforcement perspective, given your experience, how does it change the dynamic on the ground for these law enforcement officers, given the accusations, the allegations against Christopher Dorner?
Given that he allegedly has killed the daughter of a LAPD member, who was -- who he partly blamed for his dismissal, as well as someone she was involved in a relationship with, the fact that -- or the allegations that -- that he has shot at and actually killed one -- one police officer, at least one, injured another, shot at others, and now we have two more -- again, just according to authorities -- two other sheriff's deputies who have been injured, just today alone? How does that change the dynamic for the officers who are right now surrounding this cabin?
FUENTES: It actually won't change it, Anderson. Other than the knowledge of how capable he is of shooting first, and, you know, not worrying about who he kills, but that's something that SWAT teams -- SWAT teams would be trained for, fire discipline, in any event.
I mean, you would expect that with barricaded suspects, hostage suspects. They would have dealt with people many times in the past that are like that who didn't have the notoriety, weren't getting the international press coverage that this is getting right now.
So from the SWAT team standpoint, this is something they train for, the discipline that, you know, they know what they're doing out there. They know how capable and dangerous he is. And, you know, they're factoring all that in. But I don't think it's going to change how they go about their business at all.
COOPER: Tom, are you aware of what kind of SWAT team assets the -- that the Riverside County Sheriff's Department actually has? Because we heard from the LAPD in their press conference about 20 minutes ago, and we're going to play -- replay you a chunk of that press conference in just a moment.
But they said that they had LAPD resources waiting at the airport, essentially waiting to be called in by Riverside County Sheriff's Department. That those had not been called in at the time of the press conference. Do we know how many, you know, tactical units, what sort of resources Riverside County has?
FUENTES: Well, my understanding is that this was San Bernardino County. That's a very, very huge county. That's about the size of a couple of small states. So they have many assets. They would be well trained.
One thing about all of the SWAT teams in the U.S., including federal, state, and local, is that the training has been, you know, has been pretty much unified and jointly conducted. So you would have SWAT teams, FBI marshals, state police, county police, city police, all being trained in many cases by the same instructors, under the same philosophy and strategy. So -- so there's expertise at every level. The reason that LAPD -- well, obviously, they're involved in this, you know, from their own standpoint -- but the reason other agencies will be coming in and offering tactical assistance is, if this turns out to be a hostage situation, if this turns out to be a protracted crisis that goes for many days, now you're talking about that they might have to have shift work. They might have to have one team on duty for a certain period of time and then be relieved by another team.
Again, reports are that it's going to be below freezing and may already be in some of the mountain areas up there, near Big Bear, and, you know, that's going to be difficult for teams to stay outdoors, deployed, out in the field, laying on the ground for hour after hour. They certainly can't stay there indefinitely by themselves.
So there would be some effort for the police to establish a turnover of personnel on a regular basis, to keep them fresh, to keep them healthy and safe.
COOPER: And Tom, if this cabin, as the apparent owner of this cabin has told authorities, according to a source, telling the "L.A. Times," that it doesn't have phone, it doesn't have Internet, it doesn't have cable, if it has electricity, is that something that authorities want to take charge of, whether turning off his electricity -- I mean, do they want to make this difficult for him, or is that something they use as a bargaining chip?
FUENTES: Well, it depends. Again, back to the hostage situation. If he's by himself, that's not an issue. They could turn it off and not worry about it. But if he's got hostages in there, you're not going to want to create an unhealthy or dangerous situation for them. You're not going to want to trigger his temper and take it out on them by doing some of that.
This is similar to what we saw in the Dykes hostage crisis back in Alabama last week. That, you know, yes, the authorities could have turned off the power and the heat, but they didn't want to do that. They had young Ethan in that bunker. And that becomes the primary concern in these things, is not to let any harm come to a hostage if at all possible. That's their main concern here.
BLITZER: Tom, hold on for a moment. We're just getting word there's going to be a news conference at the Loma Linda Medical Center. This is where these two sheriff's deputies were taken. They were injured, they were wounded in this exchange, allegedly, with Christopher Dorner. We're going to live coverage of that Loma Linda Medical Center news conference. You're looking at live pictures right now coming in from there.
We don't know the condition of these two officers. We hope they're OK. We'll be watching that very closely. Enough people, Chris Cuomo, have been killed and injured and wounded in this horrible, horrible tragedy.
CUOMO: Absolutely, no question about that. Still an emerging situation. We don't understand what's going on, on the ground, and the authorities are coordinating their response.
But even at the most recent press conference that just ended minutes ago, there wasn't that much information to go on. Here's what the authorities knew at that point.
COMMANDER ANDREW SMITH, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: Today at about 12:22 p.m., San Bernardino sheriffs were in the hunt for Christopher Dorner, up in the Big Bear area. They received a call of a stolen vehicle in the 1200 block of Club View Drive.
When they responded there, they received information from the person reporting that this stolen vehicle was stolen by an individual that appeared to be very similar to Christopher Dorner. They immediately conducted a ground and an air search for this vehicle, and they were able to locate it at Highway 38 and Glass Road, where the suspect in the vehicle fled into the forest.
Shortly thereafter, this individual barricaded himself in one of the cabins there, and an exchange of gunfire occurred. During that exchange of gunfire, two officers were injured. They've been airlifted to a local hospital. Right now their condition is unknown.
The Los Angeles Police Department has sent resources out to the San Bernardino County Airport. Our resources are waiting there for authorization from the San Bernardino County sheriffs to assist them. So this is a San Bernardino County Sheriff's investigation. This is their lead. They have the incident command out there. We are there to support them only if asked.
Everyone is very hopeful that this thing ends without any further bloodshed. We hope we can take this guy into custody, and we hope that he doesn't hurt anybody else. We hope none of these officers was seriously injured, which we don't know at this point.
The best thing for him now would be to surrender and allow us to take him into custody, and he can face the criminal justice system.
There's a tremendous sense of apprehension among our officers here, concern about the officers that are up there, and until this guy's in handcuffs and until he's in custody, none of the people in our department are going to rest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about your manpower. You said you were waiting. What kind of resources did you send up there?
SMITH: I can't give the specific of what resources we sent. We did send some resources. They're waiting at the airport in San Bernardino now, and we're waiting to be called in by the incident commander if we're needed. Right now we haven't been needed. And by the way, the people have been asking if the chief of police has gone out there. Chief Beck has not responded out there. He's still here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What kind of vehicle did he steal?
SMITH: I don't have information about the vehicle that this suspect allegedly took. I've seen some videotape from the media members on that vehicle. I don't have the information about what that vehicle was.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Commander, if he is watching this, what message do you have for him right now?
SMITH: Enough is enough. It's time to turn yourself in. It's time to stop the bloodshed. It's time to let this event and let this incident be over.
BLITZER: So there you have it. Just a little while ago, an update from the LAPD, the commander, Andrew Smith, telling us what we know. Now you're looking at live pictures. There are checkpoints throughout this big California area.
We're told there are a limited number of exit routes from the area, but local authorities, state authorities, they're obviously watching every vehicle leave. They suspect that Christopher Dorner is holed up in a cabin. We don't know if there are hostages. We do know that cabin is surrounded.
We know there was a huge exchange of gunfire earlier in which two sheriff's deputies were injured, and they were airlifted to Loma Linda Medical Center for treatment. We don't know their condition, these two sheriff's deputies. We do know there will be a news conference momentarily, we're told, to update us on their condition. There you see the microphones being set up at the Loma Linda Medical Center.
CNN law enforcement contributor Mike Brooks is joining us right now. And Mike, what do you make about -- what do you make of this? You've watched these situations unfold over the years.
MIKE BROOKS, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, and I've been involved in a number of -- many, many barricaded subjects, Wolf, but I have to agree with the commander from LAPD, if he's listening, enough is enough. Go ahead and give up now and no more bloodshed. I have to totally agree with the commander.
But right now, the big thing is to make sure that no other law- enforcement officers are injured, Wolf; none of the citizens there, in the Big Bear Lake area are injured. And to make sure that law enforcement keeps a good containment on this cabin, as nightfall moves closer.
And, you know, and that's the big thing. Trying to find out, No. 1, is he in there by himself, does he have any hostages? That is going to -- that is going to kind of drive the way that law enforcement handles this tactical situation.
Also, even if he's in there by himself, Wolf, they are going to try to negotiate with him. But, then, again, him being a former law- enforcement officer, he may know a little bit about how negotiators go about their job, trying to -- trying to get someone out of there. He may -- you know, there have been times where people have said, you know, "Don't pull that hostage negotiation stuff on me." You know, someone who has a background in that kind of thing, Wolf.
So, again, the bottom line is here, no one else gets hurt. That's the bottom line.
BLITZER: Yes, but that's easier said than done. This is...
BROOKS: Yes, it is.
BLITZER: ... clearly an extremely dangerous situation, especially once you have not only a former LAPD cop, or rogue cop in this particular case, but you also have somebody who was trained in the military and is well armed, by all accounts.
BROOKS: Yes, and that's one of the other things, is how much supplies does he have? Does he have food; does he have water? What was inside that cabin?
But the big thing is, how many weapons does he have? How much ammo does he have? These are all things that I know investigators throughout the past week, Wolf, have been trying to nail down on how -- what kind of weapons he does have. What are his capabilities.
We know that he is a military officer, an officer -- or was an offer in the United States Navy, and he knows what the SWAT tactics, how SWAT teams operate when they're confronted with situations like this.
BLITZER: Anderson is here and Chris Cuomo is here. Chris, you wanted to make a point.
CUOMO: Yes, this tactical expert who's been sending Anderson and I information over here makes a point. There's the low temperatures. It's going to get colder now. It's obviously a cold situation. We see snow on the ground. May work to the advantage of authorities also. Because infrared equipment to find out who else is in that cabin, assuming they know the layout of the cabin, which maybe they know better now that the owner has contacted them, works in their favor.
The cooler it is inside that cabin, the more chance they have of deciding if someone else is in there, how many bodies are in there. So hopefully, the environment is a little bit working to the advantage of the authorities.
BROOKS: And also, Chris...
COOPER: Go ahead.
BROOKS: No, and also, Chris, one of the other things, they do have the technology, even in these temperatures, to see heat signatures, these kind of things.
The other thing, as nightfall approaches, is night vision gear. Law enforcement, I know that most tactical teams have night vision gear. Does he have that capability?
One of the other things, too, that we have to keep in mind. You know, with social media the way it is right now, Twitter, there's -- how many people does he subscribe to? Does he subscribe to different media organizations in the Los Angeles area that are Twittering what's going on in and around the cabin? That's something else that the media and other people involved in this situation have to be careful about what they put out, even in social media.
BLITZER: You know, I was going to say, we're just getting sad news from the "L.A. Times." Unfortunately, one of the deputies who was airlifted to the Loma Linda Medical Center, we are now told by the "L.A. Times," has died. I assume that's going to be part of the news conference that they're going to be having momentarily over there. Just the last thing, Chris, Anderson, that we wanted to hear, another dead cop, as a result of what has happened here. This is awful.
COOPER: And again -- and again, the early reports on how that went down, one deputy was supposedly shot by the suspect, while he was inside the cabin. We don't know if that's the deputy who has now died.
Also, then, according to a source telling the "L.A. Times," Dorner attempted to flee the cabin through the rear of the cabin, set off a smoke grenade or a smoke bomb, and fired upon another deputy in the rear of the cabin, hitting him.
Again, we don't know which of those two deputies has died, but that apparently is -- has been now confirmed. One deputy has died. Both have been airlifted to Loma Linda, and again, we're anticipating that press conference any moment.
BLITZER: We hope the second deputy is going to be OK, but we don't know his condition.
Chris, this is an awful, awful story. And once again, we don't know whether there are hostages inside this cabin, where they suspect -- they say they don't know 100 percent that Dorner is inside. They suspect that he is inside, but we don't know for sure and we don't know if anyone else is inside with him.
CUOMO: Can't fault their caution at this point. Earlier, I was speculating that one of the reasons that they may be going slowly is because there's someone inside. However, given the information we just got, so terrible, and while we don't know the name, and that's probably good, but everybody's thoughts and prayers, I'm sure, going to that deputy's family. It's terrible that there was more life lost here in a situation where it's so needless.
But you can understand their reluctance, the officers that are there. This man is highly trained. He is well armed. And obviously, very proficient, and he can take their lives. So it's just horrible to think what's going through the minds and hearts of those men and women who are outside the cabin right now.
COOPER: A little bit of good news from a law enforcement perspective. Again, according to the woman who believes she's the owner of one of these cabins, Candy Martin, who has talked to authorities. She said that the cabin was supposed to be empty on this day, that there was supposed to be nobody there, in addition to no Internet service, no phone service, no television. So, if this is a cabin that Christopher Dorner just burst his way into, it seems, according to the owner, there was not supposed to be anybody inside the cabin. That could be a little piece of good news. Of course, we don't know, did he grab somebody along the way? We don't have that information.
Casey Wian is standing by, and Casey, as you've heard, we've just got that terrible word about one sheriff's deputy has died.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is terrible news, obviously, Anderson, bringing the number of victims, fatalities in this case to four. The other -- the first two victims, Monica Quan, Keith Lawrence, an engaged couple, a week ago Sunday, who were shot in the community of Irvine, California, and then Riverside police officer Michael Crain, 11-year veteran of the Riverside Police Department, also two tours in the Marine Corps in Kuwait. He was shot and killed on Thursday.
I wanted to point out one other thing, Anderson. As we were looking at these pictures of vehicles being searched, coming down the mountain from Big Bear, one after the other, there's been the question raised, why are they searching these vehicles so closely? One of the reasons, clearly, is the fact that authorities are very concerned that he could have an accomplice.
Michael Dorner, the arrest warrant that the U.S. Marshals Service released just a day or so ago, said that the authorities were tracking the movements of someone identified by the initials of J.Y. He was a known associate of Dorner, and a family member of this J.Y. owns residential property in the Big Bear area. And Dorner's truck was found burning on Thursday, right near that residential property.
So, obviously, one of the areas of concerns here, for people coming down that mountain and for law enforcement, is making sure that no one who might have helped Dorner gets off that mountain.
One other point I want to make: we've shown the long, long lines of cars coming off of that mountain. Earlier this afternoon, the mayor of Big Bear Lakes, in an interview with Wolf Blitzer, said he didn't think that there was any way that Dorner could escape, that he could get off of that mountain.
And that long line of cars shows you why. Once you get on Highway 38 there, you can't do anything but go down or go up. That's what law enforcement has, at least, going for them. There's not a lot of escape routes for Dorner right now -- Anderson.
COOPER: And it is certainly -- the weather, it looks much better today. Over the last several days, though, Casey, it has not been cooperating. It's made it very difficult for law enforcement to search this area, to get air assets in place, helicopters up in the sky.
Early on we were told on Thursday or Friday, I believe it was, that they had air assets in place with infrared, capable of searching for anybody out in the -- out in the woods, but they weren't able to get those up in place because of a storm system moving through.
WIAN: That's right. There was a big snowstorm over the weekend in the Big Bear area that grounded all of that aircraft, freezing cold temperatures, wind chill factors below zero. So there were a couple of days where there were no air assets at all.
Over the weekend the skies cleared a bit. They were able to have helicopters up in the air with heat sensors, body heat sensors on those helicopters. Obviously, they did not provide any successful results over the weekend, but those helicopters were available today. They were not in the air, at least initially, but once that vehicle was reported stolen, they got in the air quickly, Anderson.
CUOMO: As we're following this situation, there's a little bit of a degree of frustration to what we're watching. Nothing's really happening. We're told that there's a suspect who they believe to be Christopher Dorner inside the cabin. We don't have any 100 percent confirmation on that.
But of course, the concern here is just that this ends safely, safely, even for Dorner, that they are able to do what the LAPD suggested in their news conference, bring him into custody, allow him to tell his side of what his motivations are. Let justice take its course. But at a minimum, that the killing stops. The most recent news that a deputy involved in a shootout with the suspect today has lost his life punctuates that point.
So of course this is frustrating as we watch it and we try to make sense of the tactics that are going on and the procedures. We all want it to end but unfortunately, this is the way these situations often play out.
BLITZER: It's a sad, sad story indeed. And let's hope it doesn't get sadder as we watch what's going on.
Just want to remind our viewers we're waiting for a news conference from the Loma Linda Medical Center. They will be briefing us on the condition. We have been told the "L.A. Times" reporting that one of the officers who was engaged in this shootout with Dorner has passed away. And our deepest, deepest condolences to his family.
Tom Fuentes, we don't know the condition of the other sheriff's deputy. I assume we'll find out fairly soon. But as we watch what's going on, he may not have Internet, he may not have television, but he can definitely have other ways of finding out what's going on if he's creative as he apparently is.
FUENTES: Well, I think he's getting to know exactly what's going on even if he was completely without communication. He's a trained police officer. He's going to know exactly what the tactics would be here, the way they're going to deploy a SWAT team, negotiators, sniper observers, other tactical support, logistical support for the teams up there, possible change of shifts, if that comes into a longer time period up there.
So I think that from that standpoint, this is a much different hostage taker or barricaded subject, if you will, because it's actually someone who knows the tactics, who has been there and has been trained to deal with it from the outside looking in. Now he's on the inside looking out.
So I don't think that's going to be a huge factor here of what he knows or doesn't know. He can assume what the police are doing and that's going to be exactly what they're doing.
COOPER: Tom, I'm wondering what you think of his tactics thus far. It seems that in a number of the shootouts that he's allegedly engaged in with authorities, he's really kind of taken the fight to them. He's been very aggressive. It's not as if he's sort of a sniper hanging out at a location just trying to pick people off.
He's actually exited his vehicle, approached police officers, firing according to the early reports, and again, these are just early reports. In the incident today, driving a white pickup truck, he actually crashed that pickup truck, exited the vehicle, began firing at officers and then wound up in this nearby cabin.
And again, upon trying to exit this cabin, according to one source telling the "L.A. Times" from the rear, set off a smoke bomb, shooting at one sheriff's deputy. What do you make of his tactics thus far?
FUENTES: Well, normally that would give him the advantage. If you're on offense instead of defense, then that means the police that are defending themselves have to react to whatever it is you've started. So if he comes out guns blazing, they suddenly have to draw weapons and try to return fire and hope that they're not hit in the interim, which unfortunately, several have been.
Secondly, you've got someone that's basically had superior fire power, and that's another issue in this situation. The average police e officer on the street's going to have a pistol, maybe a shotgun in the patrol car. If they're all out expecting him, they might have a little bit more capability, more fire power capability.
But generally, the heavy weaponry of police are normally in the hands of the tactical units that are trained on using them every day like SWAT teams and units like that. So now you have a situation where he knows what he's going to do, the police don't know. He can see them and their marked units and uniforms. They can't tell if he's just another civilian or not, and he's got better fire power than the average police officer on patrol. So every one of those situations gives him an edge.
COOPER: In terms of the timeline on this, Tom, I mean time is on I assume the side of the authorities in this. If there are not hostages involved, they can essentially wait him out, can't they?
FUENTES: They can, but I think that once they determine -- if they were able to determine that there's positively no one else in that cabin except him, they don't need to wait forever. They can give him a reasonable time, and then they can start launching, you know, gas and other measures into that to literally smoke him out. But in the interim, again, he might have a gas mask and just be sitting there laughing. You know, there's a lot to deal with, but it's much more difficult if there's hostages than if he's barricaded. Barricaded, the police don't quite need the same degree of patience that hostages require.
BLITZER: Tom, hold on for a moment. Miguel Marquez is now on the scene. Miguel, where are you? I understand you're near one of those checkpoints?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via phone): We are about ten miles from the scene where this is happening. We're on Highway 38 in the town of Mentone at the base of the mountain. We believe that Mr. Dorner is holed up in a cabin just north of here.
It is a massive police presence here with tons of other law- enforcement vehicles heading up the hill, speeding up the hill as fast as they can possibly go. All -- all traffic into and out of the hill right now, this really massive area east of Los Angeles, is now shut down, Wolf.
BLITZER: And so basically, it's impossible to get -- are you saying it's impossible for you to get closer to the scene? You're about ten miles away or so?
MARQUEZ: It is impossible for us to get up. And keep in mind this becomes a single lane in and out of the San Bernardino National Forest, in and out of the Big Bear Lake region. The place where we believe Mr. Dorner is held up is a cabin south, about seven miles south of Big Bear Lake, directly south.
This road sort of takes a big long loop up into Big Bear Lake, so this road, 38, goes right past that area called the Seven Oaks town or neighborhood in the San Bernardino National Forest up there. That's where he appears to be held up. And it appears, I understand from law enforcement that they may be ready to go in at some point and try to forcibly remove him from that cabin.
BLITZER: Well, we'll see what happens on that front. Obviously if he's inside by himself, it's one thing. If there are hostages, if there are innocent people inside with him, it becomes a much more complicated situation. This could go on, Chris Cuomo, Anderson Cooper. This could go on for a while.
COOPER: Yes, no doubt about it. You know, as Tom Fuentes said, what they need to find out right now is are there hostages inside that -- inside that cabin? Exactly what the situation with the layout of the cabin, and then they'll take it from there.
As Tom Fuentes, formerly with the FBI, was saying, it's obviously a much better situation for them if there are not hostages inside, and they could very easily start to put in gas, put in stun grenades, and go in after this guy.
BLITZER: I just want to alert our viewers also that, of course, the president of the United States will be addressing a joint meeting of the United States Congress tonight for his State of the Union address. That will begin at 9 p.m. Eastern.
This particular story, Chris, it's certainly dominated the last few hours. Indeed the attention of the nation and much of the world is focused right now. They want to see this resolved.
CUOMO: Absolutely. Hopefully, time is what brings safety to this situation. There's been so much killing already. If the time allows for preparation, allows the suspect, if it is this gentleman, Christopher Dorner, to be brought in safely so that justice can take its course, he can get his fair hearing and nobody else gets hurt, then all the time that it takes, no matter how frustrating, is certainly worthwhile.
COOPER: Remember, this all began about three, three and a half hours or so ago, this latest incident, this exchange of gunfire at a roadblock. And so really, authorities have been spending the last several hours just trying to kind of get their hands around the situation, get the entire area locked down.
As you see it is pretty locked down right now. There's roadblocks for miles outside of this area, and obviously, the immediate -- the immediate area around that cabin is surrounded and being tightly controlled, and they are going to, now -- now that they have it in some sort of order, they're going to plot their next move.
BLITZER: They've got a major mission ahead of them. We're going to resume, obviously, we're going to continue our breaking news coverage here on CNN. We're watching what's going on, a dramatic development in Southern California right now.