The couple said while Dorner was a menacing presence, he tried to reassure them that he did not want to harm them.
“It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we express our deepest sympathies and condolences to any one that suffered losses or injuries resulting from Christopher’s actions,” Nancy Dorner said in a brief statement released Wednesday.
His mother’s statement said the family does “not condone Christopher’s actions” and that the family “asks that our privacy be respected during this difficult time,” KTLA-TV reported. Nancy Dorner became a part of the story when federal and local authorities searched her home in La Palma during the manhunt, carrying out bags of potential evidence.
Dorner, 33, is believed to have perished in a fire at a Big Bear park cabin in California. The identity of the remains found there have yet to be confirmed.
Police said they did not purposely set fire to the cabin.
“We did not intentionally burn down that cabin,” San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon told reporters Wednesday afternoon.
McMahon said they first fired traditional tear gas to flush Dorner out, then moved on to CS gas canisters, known in law enforcement parlance as incendiary tear gas. These canisters, filled with a more potent gas, have a significantly greater chance of starting a fire.
As authorities defended their actions, Karen and Jim Reynolds, who were taken hostage by Dorner in the mountain property they owned, said he went out of his way to calm them down. The couple stumbled upon Dorner during a routine check of one of their units, when he surprised them from upstairs.
“He opened the door and came out at us. He had his gun drawn,” said Jim Reynolds, 66. “He yelled ‘stay calm’ and ran out.”
“He talked to us, trying to calm us down and saying very frequently he would not kill us,” said Karen Reynolds, 56. “He had said, ‘I just want to clear my name.'”
The couple said Dorner told them he had been keeping an eye on them for days, and although he had broken in and tied them up, he paid them an unexpected compliment.
“He said we are very hard workers, we’re good people. He talked about how he could see Jim working on the snow every day,” said Karen.
Dorner tied the couple up and left to take their car, but soon returned, asking how to start their keyless Nissan. After he departed, Karen was able to make it over to her cellphone and call 911, despite the restraints. After police responded and came upon Dorner, a shootout began that left a deputy dead.
Although the Reynolds were aware of Dorner’s alleged trail of violence, they said they could not help but feel some compassion for their captor.
“I really didn’t wish him dead, though. I really didn’t. I prayed for him a lot and I’m praying for his family now,” said Karen.
Previously, law enforcement authorities said the fugitive had held two cleaning women hostage, so the Reynolds, married for 36 years, decided to come forward with the facts.
When they were asked if they expected a share of the more than $1 million reward offered in the case, Karen said,”We heard nobody was getting that because he needed to be captured and convicted.”