About 20 miles away, two game wardens spotted the car on a meandering road along a scenic lake behind two school buses, and deputies planned to throw down spike strips to puncture the vehicle’s tires, authorities said.
Dorner seemed to anticipate the move, pulling close behind the buses to give officers no space to drop the strips, Foy said. Dorner had warned — even boasted — in the rant that he knew police tactics and techniques as well as the officers pursuing him.
The purple Nissan then disappeared.
Heltebrake, a ranger who takes care of a Boy Scout camp nearby, said he just had lunch and was checking the perimeter of the camp for anything out of the ordinary when he saw someone emerge from the trees, and instantly recognized Dorner.
Meantime, officers trying to find the fugitive quickly realized he must have turned onto a side road, but for a few minutes nobody involved in the chase knew he had changed vehicles.
Then game wardens saw Heltebrake’s truck making erratic moves and saw a man fitting Dorner’s description behind the wheel. And then the shooting started.
Dorner fired at wardens as he drove. A warden then stopped his vehicle and fired multiple rounds at the truck from his high-powered, semi-automatic rifle. He apparently missed.
‘‘If he had been struck it would have caused so much damage immediately that he (the warden) probably would have known,’’ Foy said.
Out of options after crashing the pickup, Dorner made a break for a cabin and barricaded himself inside.
With the standoff under way, officers lobbed tear gas canisters into the cabin. A single shot was heard inside before the cabin was engulfed in flames, said a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.
San Bernardino Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremiah MacKay was killed, and another deputy, Alexander Collins, was wounded at the cabin. MacKay, a detective who had been with the department 15 years, had a wife, a 7-year-old daughter and a 4-month-old son, sheriff’s officials said.
Police said Dorner began his run Feb. 6 after they connected the Feb. 3 slayings of a former Los Angeles police captain’s daughter and her fiance with his angry manifesto.
Dorner blamed former Capt. Randal Quan for providing poor representation before a police disciplinary board that fired him for filing a false report. Dorner, who is black, claimed he was the subject of racism by the department and was targeted for reporting misconduct within the department.
House after police named Dorner as a suspect in the double murder, he shot at two LAPD officers, grazing one in the head, and then ambushed two Riverside officers, killing Officer Michael Crain. His funeral was Wednesday.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, who initially dismissed Dorner’s allegations, has said he would reopen the investigation into his firing — not to appease the ex-officer, but to restore confidence in the black community, which had a tense relationship with police that has improved in recent years.
A $1 million reward had been offered for Dorner’s capture and conviction. LAPD Officer Alex Martinez said the mayor’s office will determine if the money is paid out.
‘‘I don’t think there’s going to be a reward,’’ he said. ‘‘Remember, it’s capture and conviction. There was no capture and no conviction. It’s kind of a no-brainer.’’