By Dan Whitcomb and Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A gunman thought to be a fugitive ex-cop who has led Southern California authorities on a six-day manhunt barricaded himself inside a cabin in the mountains northeast of Los Angeles on Tuesday and traded gunfire with sheriff's deputies, killing one, authorities said.
Two San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies were struck by gunfire and one of them was killed, Sheriff John McMahon told reporters. CNN later reported that a SWAT team had entered the cabin, and thick dark smoke was seen rising from the area.
Police said the man they believe to be Christopher Dorner, 33, surfaced for the first time in several days after breaking into a home near the ski resort community of Big Bear Lake, tying up a couple there and stealing their pickup truck.
A state game warden apparently on the lookout for Dorner exchanged gunshots with the driver of the stolen truck about 20 minutes later, and the suspect later abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot into the surrounding forest.
Officials of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said the gunman ultimately barricaded himself inside another cabin and engaged in a shootout with officers who closed in on him.
The confrontation came on the sixth day of a search for Dorner that Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck has called the most extensive manhunt in the region's history.
Dorner's last confirmed encounter with authorities came early last Thursday, when police said he ambushed two policemen at a traffic light in Riverside, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. One of those officers was killed, the other wounded.
That shooting came shortly after Dorner, a former Navy officer, is suspected of exchanging gunfire with police in nearby Corona, wounding one officer there.
Last Wednesday, he was named as a suspect in the slayings of a campus security officer and his fiancee, the daughter of a retired Los Angeles Police Department captain blamed by Dorner for his 2008 dismissal from the department in a manifesto posted on his Facebook page last week.
The couple he is accused of killing, Keith Lawrence, 27, and Monica Quan, 28, an assistant college basketball coach, were found shot dead on February 3 in their car on the top level of a parking structure in the city of Irvine, south of Los Angeles.
Quan's father, Randy Quan, had represented Dorner in disciplinary proceedings that led to his termination after a police inquiry found that Dorner had made false statements accusing a superior officer of using excessive force, police said.
In the rambling online declaration attributed to him, Dorner claimed he was wrongly terminated and vowed to seek revenge by unleashing "unconventional and asymmetrical warfare" on police officers and their families.
Riverside County Prosecutors formally charged Dorner on Monday with one count of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder in connection with last Thursday's shootings of police officers.
On Sunday, authorities posted a $1 million reward for information leading to Dorner's capture, saying it was the largest such sum ever offered in a Southern California criminal investigation.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb, Steve Gorman and Alex Dobuzinskis; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Leslie Adler, Gary Hill)
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