Police were awaiting forensic analysis to confirm charred remains found inside the cabin in the wooded hills of the San Bernardino National Forest were that of Christopher Dorner.
Authorities including Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the man who had barricaded himself inside the cabin was almost certainly Dorner, 33.
“There’s a sigh of relief,” Villaraigosa said. He cautioned, however, that it could be “days, maybe even weeks” before there is final confirmation that Dorner was dead.
The former cop had been the subject of a six-day manhunt across southern California. He is believed to have made his last stand in the cabin, where a gun battle ended in the death of a sheriff’s deputy and the wounding of another deputy.
Dorner is suspected of killing four people, including the deputy.
An angry manifesto posted last week on his Facebook page claimed he had been wrongly dismissed from the Los Angeles Police Department in 2008. He vowed to seek revenge by unleashing “unconventional and asymmetrical warfare” on officers and their families.
The LA Times reported that the climax to the manhunt began when two housekeepers encountered a man believed to have been Dorner inside a vacant cabin near the ski resort community of Big Bear Lake.
They surprised the suspected fugitive, who tied them up and then took off in a purple Nissan parked near the cabin.
One of the women freed herself and called police.
State game wardens spotted the vehicle and gave chase. The suspect crashed the car, then commandeered a pickup truck at gunpoint from another motorist, said Lieutenant Patrick Foy.
Foy said officers got close enough during the chase to recognise the driver as Dorner before he abandoned the truck and fled into the woods to the cabin.
During a lull in the gunfire, the cabin caught fire and was quickly engulfed in flames.