Christopher Dorner: Camp ranger files claim for $1.2-million reward
A camp ranger carjacked by Christopher Dorner and who called 911 is seeking the entire $1.2-million reward offered for the now-deceased ex-L.A. police officer who killed four people before taking his own life in a Big Bear area cabin.
Rick Heltebrake, through a law firm, has filed a claim to collect the reward offered by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and funded by various entities. It was not long after Heltebrake called 911 that San Bernardino County Sheriff's deputies surrounded the cabin where Dorner was hiding Feb. 12 and where he shot himself.
Heltebrake, a full-time ranger at Boy Scouts-owned Camp Tahquitz, said in the claim for the reward that he was driving on Glass Road when a man jumped out of a snow bank and pointed a firearm at him.
"Mr. Heltebrake immediately recognized this man as Christopher Dorner," wrote attorney Allen L. Thomas in the Feb. 19 reward claim.
Heltebrake says Dorner ordered him out of the truck and used it to continue fleeing law enforcement. Dorner left Heltebrake behind with his dog. The camp ranger started to walk up Glass Road but after 10 to 15 seconds, cut into the forest with the intention of going to Highway 38.
"Once off the road, Mr. Heltebrake used his cellular telephone to contact San Bernardino Deputy Sheriff Paul Franklin to report the incident and the location of Mr. Dorner," his attorney wrote.
Heltebrake told the deputy how his truck had been stolen at gunpoint by Dorner and gave its location. Dorner turned around on Glass Road and ended up heading downhill to Seven Oaks resort, where he drove the truck into a gully and fled to the nearby cabin. There, he fatally shot a deputy before being surrounded and taking his own life.
But while L.A. officials say they are inclined to give the reward to someone, his may not be the sole claim. A couple who earlier found Dorner in their rental apartment freed themselves and also called 911 to notify authorities. He was fleeing from that location when he carjacked Heltebrake.
State Department of Fish & Wildlife officers had spotted Dorner fleeing in the couple's car from Big Bear and gave chase. Dorner then carjacked Heltebrake's truck before crashing it near the cabin.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said final decisions on the dissemination of the reward, as in all reward cases, will be made upon the completion of the investigation.
More than two dozen donors — including local governments, police departments, civic organizations, private groups and individuals — chipped in to offer the reward for information leading to the arrest and capture of the former LAPD officer suspected in a series of killings.
The Los Angeles City Council and county Board of Supervisors later added $100,000 each. The reward is thought to be the largest ever offered locally and prompted hundreds of tips.
Immediately after the incident, Heltebrake told a reporter, “Someone owes me $1 million,” adding he wouldn't mind "parting it three ways" with the others.
Authorities said that with more than 20 jurisdictions and entities involved in the reward, they would need to come together to collectively determine whether anyone qualified for it.
"Our personal hope is that the reward will be distributed, but we must follow the rules and respect the procedures of each entity," officials said.
Dorner's alleged rampage apparently began Feb. 3 with the deaths of Monica Quan, a Cal State Fullerton assistant basketball coach, and her fiance, Keith Lawrence, a USC police officer.
Quan was the daughter of a retired LAPD captain whom Dorner allegedly blamed in part for his firing from the force in 2009. Quan was his attorney during a Board of Rights hearing.
An online manifesto authorities attributed to Dorner threatened "unconventional and asymmetrical warfare" against police, prompting LAPD to assign about 50 protective details to threatened officials and their families.
While on the run Feb. 7, Dorner allegedly opened fire on police in two incidents in Riverside County. Riverside Officer Michael Crain was killed. His partner was injured, along with an LAPD officer whose head was grazed with a bullet in Corona.
As the standoff unfolded at the Big Bear cabin, Dorner shot two San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies, authorities said. Deputy Jeremiah MacKay was killed.
Dorner's body was positively identified after it was found in the charred rubble of the cabin, which burned to the ground after police used an incendiary form of tear gas in an attempt to flush Dorner out. Dorner died of a single gunshot wound to the head.
-- Richard Winton