LOS ANGELES He styled himself as a Rambo-like guerrilla, someone trained to outwit and outshoot the police at every turn, and while Christopher Dorner left no doubt he could be unforgivingly violent, when it came to keeping ahead of the law during his deadly rampage, he made one mistake after another.
The last one letting one of two people he tied up get loose and call police as he made off in their purple car tipped authorities he was coming.
The angry ex-cop, who authorities say boasted that police agencies had no chance of capturing him except on his terms, appears to have been killed Tuesday in a fierce gun battle after he wrecked two getaway cars and had to make a last stand in a mountain cabin 80 miles east of Los Angeles.
The cabin went up in flames after authorities launched pyrotechnic tear gas canisters into it. Sheriff's deputies were not trying to burn down the cabin with Dorner inside but simply flush him out, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said.
"It was not on purpose," he told reporters Wednesday. "We did not intentionally burn down that cabin to get Mr. Dorner out."
Authorities were all but certain the charred body found inside afterward was Dorner's. They are waiting for forensic tests to confirm that, but in the meantime McMahon said Wednesday that authorities consider the hunt over.
Personal effects, including Dorner's driver's license, were found with the body, an official briefed on the search told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.
As an indication that police are confident they've got the right man, even though there's no positive ID yet from the coroner on the body, all 400 LAPD officers assigned to protect families on Dorner's revenge list have now gone back to regular duty.
New information reveals Dorner was hiding out in a cabin-style condominium at Big Bear, just a stone's throw from the sheriff's command post, likely since last week, until owners Karen and Jim Reynolds walked in on him unexpectedly on Tuesday.
"He talked to us, tried to calm us down and saying very frequently he would not kill us," Karen Reynolds told reporters.
Dorner wanted their car to escape the area, but first he tied up the couple, reports CBS News correspondent Carter Evans.
Dorner bound them, put pillow cases over their heads and fled in their purple Nissan.
Jim Reynolds said he first thought Dorner was going to kill them. "When he had me lying on the ground, yes, I really did," he told reporters. "I thought he's changed his mind and he's just trying to calm us down and get us in here and he's going to do it."
They were able to get to Karen Reynolds' cell phone and dial 911.
The Reynolds told their story at a news conference Wednesday night, they said, to clear up recent reports that it was two female housekeepers who had found Dorner and been tied up.
Their account could not immediately be confirmed by law enforcement officials, but it matched earlier reports saying it was a married couple, and property records showed them as the owners.
Dorner later abandoned the Reynolds' vehicle, and then carjacked a truck driven by Rick Heltebrake. "He came out of the snow, and I stopped, put my truck into park, put my hands up, and he has a gun aimed at me," he told CBS News. "And he said, 'I don't want to hurt you, just get out, start walking up the road and take your dog.'"
Dorner drove off, wearing camouflage and a bulletproof vest.