Skiers and snowboarders were navigating the slopes Tuesday afternoon at Bear Mountain and its sister ski resort, Snow Summit. And many of them had no idea that nearby a manhunt had resumed for former Los Angeles Police Officer Christopher Dorner.
The ski resorts in Big Bear, 90 miles east of Los Angeles in the San Bernardino National Forest, were just winding down for the day when Dorner was reportedly killed in a cabin that was about to burn to the ground.
CBS reports Dorner dead
The Associated Press reported that a single gunshot was heard around 4:45 p.m., just as the fire began in the cabin. Some media outlets were speculating that Dorner was dead, perhaps taking his own life.
CBS senior correspondent John Miller reported that Dorner’s body was recovered from the burned cabin. Police reportedly went in after the fire subsided and took out a charred body.
Los Angeles police said Tuesday evening that the burned cabin where Dorner was believed to be holed up is too hot to enter and no body has been found.
After the gun shot, eye-witnesses were saying police were wondering around the scene as if the threat was over.
Highways were being reopened in the area, a sign that many observers felt was a sign that police were confident the former LAPD officer had died.
Did police sniper kill Dorner?
Neal Barton, the news director for a NBC affiliate in Texas, tweeted” “We have confirmation from the Los Angeles Police Department the ex-cop from LA was shot and killed by a local sheriff’s department sniper.”
Big Bear is a winter destination for many Southern California skiers and snowboarders. The two ski resorts were reportedly very busy Tuesday afternoon amid the gun battle between the San Bernardino sheriff’s deputies and Dorner.
“We have about 3,000 guests on both mountains today,” Chris Riddle, vice president of marketing with Bear Mountain and Ski Summit, told the Riverside Press-Enterprise. “We’re in constant contact with the sheriff’s department, and at this point, they don’t have a problem with us staying in normal operation.”
Big Bear ski resorts crowded Tuesday
Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, two ski resorts that have more than 50 runs between them, were mostly open since Dorner’s burned pickup was found last Thursday after he reportedly killed a Riverside police officer and wounded three others in separate shootings.
It’s not often that a ski resort gets put on lockdown, but that’s what happened Thursday at Bear Mountain. The resort was shut down on Thursday afternoon, but did open again Friday.
Bear Mountain was reporting 18 inches of fresh powder on Saturday, the single largest snowfall so far this season. People still skied and snowboarded on the weekend.
“We’ve got people coming up here to ski and snowboard, but maybe not as much as we would expect on a typical Saturday morning after a snow storm,” a Bear Mountain spokesperson said Saturday morning. “We couldn’t say (Dorner) is the reason we’re not as busy. The roads aren’t that great, either.”
The presence of so many law enforcement officers searching for a heavily armed suspect may have cut weekend ski business about 15 percent, resort officials said. Lodge operators were also reporting cancellations.
“It’s definitely slower than it would have been,” said Brent Tregaskis, general manager of Bear Mountain, told the Los Angeles Times. “That is the part of this that is a negative.”
Was it safe to ski this week?
A Bear Valley spokesperson, who didn’t want to be identified, said it felt safe to be skiing or riding Saturday at Bear Mountai or Snow Summit, which is about 10 minutes away.
“I’m sure law enforcement wouldn’t allow us to be open if they didn’t feel it was safe,” added the spokesperson on Saturday. “People don’t know where (Dormer) is. Nobody knows.”
Big Bear a year-round resort area
About 5,000 year-round residents live in Big Bear, which sits on the south shore of one of the most pristine alpine lakes in California. Big Bear serves as a year-round weekend getaway for residents of Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas, as well as a destination for athletes in training.
Reportedly on many weekends, more than 100,000 visitors will occupy the cabins, homes, resorts and campgrounds in the Big Bear region.
Big Bear is a scenic area where on a clear day the Pacific Ocean can be seen. Big Bear rests at about 6,700 feet and the surrounding peaks rise to approximately 9,000 feet. Big Bear averages more than 300 days of sun a year.