Dorner case: Who, if anyone, will get $1-million reward is unclear
Officials have not made a decision on who, if anyone, will get a piece of more than $1 million in reward money offered for the capture and conviction of suspected killer Christopher Dorner.
Dorner, 33, is believed to have died in a Big Bear cabin fire after a standoff with police Tuesday afternoon.
He was tracked there after reportedly tying up two people in one cabin and carjacking a man minutes later. All three people reported seeing Dorner to police.
At a news conference Wednesday morning, LAPD officials pointed out that the reward was for Dorner’s capture and conviction, leading some to believe that it may not be given out since he’s believed to be dead.
Also Wednesday, it was revealed that Dorner told two people he was holding captive in their condo that he wanted to clear his name.
Jim Reynolds, 66, who has owned the condo with his wife for 12 years, quoted Dorner as saying: “I don’t have a problem with you. I just want to clear my name."
"He tried to calm us down, saying very frequently, he would not kill us,” Reynolds said. "He huddled down beside me and said, 'You're going to be quiet, right? Not make a fuss and let me get away?' "
"He told us 'I know you know who I am, I know you've been seeing the news,' " Karen Reynolds, 56, said.
The couple provided new details on some of Dorner's movements in the apparent final hours of his life before he is believed to have died in a fire after a mountainside gun battle with officers. Law enforcement authorities previously said the fugitive had held two cleaning women hostage. The Reynoldses, married for 36 years, spoke to reporters to end the confusion.
“I really thought it could be the end,” Karen Reynolds said.
The couple said Dorner had been at the condo since as early as Friday when they arrived to do maintenance in the yard. He told them he was watching them while they worked during the day before leaving to sleep at another property nearby. The couple own the condo, near ski resorts in the snow-capped San Bernardino Mountains, and lease it out to people on vacation.
Dorner said he had seen Jim Reynolds shoveling snow and told the couple they were "hard-working, good people."
When they entered the condo about noon Tuesday to clean the unit, they said, they were surprised to find the fugitive former Los Angeles police officer inside, upstairs. They said they were held captive for about 15 minutes.
Once they saw Dorner, they said, he brandished a “big gun” and yelled, “Stay calm!”
Karen Reynolds said she tried to run down the stairs, but Dorner chased after her and caught her. He then took the couple to a bedroom, where he tied them up, forcing them to lie on the bed, and then on the floor.
Dorner was a menacing presence but at other times tried to reassure the couple that he did not want to harm them, they said.
Karen Reynolds said Dorner left the condo and stole their purple Nissan.
At that point, Karen Reynolds was able to roll on her knees and get onto her feet. She was able to make her way to the cellphone on the coffee table. With her hands still bound behind her back, she was able to call 911, and put the phone on speaker about two minutes after they heard the car leave.
“Dorner tied us up, and he’s in Big Bear,” Karen Reynolds recalled telling the operator.
That call at 12:20 p.m. alerted authorities that Dorner was in the area and set in motion the chain of events that led to a shootout between Dorner and a state Fish and Wildlife warden and the standoff at the cabin where he is believed to have died as flames consumed the wood-paneled structure.
The blaze was sparked after authorities fired incendiary tear gas into the cabin, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon told reporters Wednesday afternoon.
McMahon denied speculation that officers intentionally set the fire, saying officers first used traditional tear gas to flush the man out. When that didn't work, they decided to use CS gas canisters, which are known in law enforcement parlance as incendiary tear gas. These canisters, filled with more potent gas, have a significantly greater chance of starting a fire.
"We did not intentionally burn down that cabin," the sheriff said.
As the Reynolds recounted the harrowing ordeal, they said they were "happy to be alive." They said they have mixed feelings about Dorner, whom they described as calm, alert and methodical. They found evidence that someone had been staying in the cabin, such as a gallon of milk in the fridge, but don't know if a previous tenant had left it behind. The last renter was there Jan. 29, the couple said.
The unit was equipped with cable television and Internet and is a short walk from a command post where authorities briefed reporters on the manhunt. There were no signs of a forced entry.
Asked if they expected a share of the more than $1-million reward offered in the case, the couple said they didn't expect to receive anything.
"We heard nobody was getting that because he needed to be captured and convicted," Karen Reynolds said.
-- Adolfo Flores in Big Bear and Andrew Blankstein and Rong-Gong Lin II in Los Angeles