The manhunt, the shoot out and the death of a Sheriff’s deputy was by far the biggest story of 2013 for Big Bear Valley.

Law enforcement and media swooped down on Big Bear Feb. 7 after a burned out vehicle belonging to Christopher Dorner was discovered in the forest near Bear Mountain Resort. An intensive manhunt ensued as members of law enforcement agencies around the Southland joined San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department in searching for the former LAPD officer.

Schools were on lockdown, deputies went door to door in the Bear Mountain area as well as throughout the Valley searching for the man suspected of killing two people in Irvine Feb. 3. Dorner’s alleged shooting spree continued Feb. 7 when he shot at LAPD officers, hitting one, then ambushed two Riverside police officers. One officer was killed and the second seriously injured. It is believed he fled to Big Bear after the Riverside


Dorner eluded authorities for days following the discovery of his pickup truck in Big Bear. On Feb. 10, a $1 million reward was offered for information leading to the arrest of Dorner. By Feb. 11, local schools re-opened with a deputy assigned to each school.

On Feb. 12, just after noon, a stolen car was reported in Big Bear, and the suspect matched Dorner’s description. A chase led deputies to Seven Oaks, off Highway 38. Two deputies were shot by Dorner. Detective Jeremiah MacKay was killed, and Deputy Alex Collins seriously wounded.

Dorner barricaded himself in a cabin surrounded by law enforcement, eventually taking his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot as the cabin burned during the standoff.

Since the shoot out, the slain deputies and the two people killed by Dorner Feb. 3 have been buried. The reward funds were scaled back and doled out after an independent panel determined who was eligible for the reward. 

The exclamation point to wrap up the Dorner story for Big Bear came Sept. 30 when Deputy Alex Collins returned to active duty at the Big Bear Sheriff’s Station.

—Judi Bowers

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