San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon on Tuesday gave his first interview since the deadly Feb. 12 standoff between disgruntled former Los Angeles police officer Chris Dorner and deputies in the San Bernardino Mountains.
Sitting in his office at the Sheriff's Department, McMahon, who had been sworn in as Sheriff less than two months before Dorner engaged sheriff's deputies in a deadly gun battle in Seven Oaks, reflected on the magnitude of the event and the impact it had on the law enforcement community.
"This type of an event is tragic, and no law enforcement leader ever wants to be in that position -- where you lose an officer and one gets seriously injured in a gun battle," McMahon said. "It's tragic.
It's terrible and I hope I'm never in that position again. "
Dorner is believed to have taken his own life after a sheriff's SWAT team inserted pyrotechnic tear gas into the cabin in which Dorner barricaded himself on Glass Road, above Angelus Oaks.
He didn't go quietly. Dorner shot and killed Deputy Jeremiah MacKay and seriously wounded his partner, Deputy Alex Collins, prior to his own fiery death.
Dorner, who launched a killing spree to send a message about his claims of corruption at the Los Angeles Police Department following what he said was his wrongful termination, is also suspected of killing the daughter of a retired LAPD captain, her fiance, and a Riverside police officer, as well as seriously wounding that officer's partner.
The standoff drew a throng of police officers from agencies across Southern California: Los Angeles, Irvine, the CHP, the Forest Service and Cal Fire.
But all eyes were on the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, which came under aggressive media scrutiny for its use of the pyrotechnic tear gas. One investigative journalist, Max Blumenthal, said in an interview the department engaged in an "extrajudicial execution" of Dorner.
McMahon dismissed such criticism, standing by his initial statement that the department did nothing wrong and its tactics were by the book. He said Dorner was given plenty of verbal commands, via a public address system, to exit the cabin and surrender, but he didn't.
The SWAT team first shot cold tear gas into the cabin, which didn't draw out Dorner. So the pyrotechnic tear gas, which emits a higher concentration of gas, was used, which ignited the cabin, McMahon said, Shortly thereafter, a single distinct gunshot, unlike the volley of gunshots that were fired from the cabin during the gun battle, was heard from inside the cabin, followed by silence.
McMahon said everyone in law enforcement should study and learn from the event.
"As I thought about this, if it was not our department involved in this event, we would be watching this event on TV, looking at what they were doing and asking ourselves, 'If this occurred in our county, would we be prepared to deal with it, and how would we deal with it?'" McMahon said. "So this is a learning event for law enforcement across the country. Clearly, everybody can learn from an event like this. "
Below, pictures from the manhunt and siege of Christopher Dorner.
Reach Joe via email, call him at 909-386-3874, or find him on Twitter @SBCountyNow. ___