Who deserves the Christopher Dorner reward money? That’s the question hanging over the city of Los Angeles, after several people assisted in Dorner’s trapping in the mountains of Big Bear, making crucial phone calls to authorities and now seeking all or part of the $1.2 million that Mayor Anthony Villiagrosa publicly announced for the capture of the former cop who terrorized the state.
The manhunt for Dorner enthralled the nation last month, as law enforcement authorities in southern California conducted one of the largest manhunts in U.S. history after the ex-cop killed four people, including two police officers.
Park ranger Rick Heltebrake has filed a claim for the entire $1.2 million reward after his car jacking and phone call to authorities led to Dorner being trapped in the cabin.
Heltebrake said Dorner walked up to his truck, pointed a rifle at him and said, “I don’t want to hurt you, just take your dog and start walking.” Heltebrake called authorities after the incident and police surrounded the cabin where Dorner was hiding. He never escaped and eventually took his own life before the cabin burned down.
Dorner literally went out in a blaze of drama and more death, taking the life of a sheriff’s deputy and wounding another before barricading himself in a cabin in the San Bernardino mountains near Big Bear, northeast of Los Angeles. Dorner’s entrapment in the cabin was carried live on television for hours, though the television stations obeyed the request of law enforcement authorities and refrained from showing the actual cabin where Dorner was trapped, in case he was watching on television and could see from the helicopter images where officers were stationed around him.
Though most people were horrified by the violence that Dorner visited upon the police departments in Southern California, his story managed to capture the imagination of many because it was so surreal and larger than life. In a town that packages fictional, violent heroes and sells them to the rest of the world, the Dorner tale felt like something out of a Hollywood studio — an aggrieved former cop with an exceptional set of skills seeks revenge on those who wrongfully terminated him, wreaks havoc and kills four in the process of tearing a trail of violence everywhere he went.
Many people could identify with the claims and passions Dorner expressed in his online manifesto, in which he outlined in painstaking detail the unfairness of his termination from the department and listed the people responsible — in addition to recounting tales of racism and corruption he encountered in his few short years on the LAPD.
“Mr. Villiagrosa made a promise of that much money for the capture and conviction of Mr. Dorner and I believe that my phone call directly led to the end of the biggest manhunt in southern California history,” Heltebrake told KTLA-5 news in LA.
“Mr Heltebrake’s telephone call to Deputy Franklin notified law enforcement of Mr Dorner’s location, provided a description of the vehicle he was fleeing in and was the substantial factor in the capture of Mr Dorner at the cabin location,” Heltebrake’s attorney wrote in the February 19 claim for the money. “Consequently, Mr. Heltebrake accepts the mayor’s offer of the entire reward of $1.2m.”
“The case is closed,” Heltebrake said. “They aren’t looking for anybody else.”
Heltebrake is unlikely to be the sole claimant for the cash. Police received dozens of tips during the manhunt that crossed 20 jurisdictions and a couple who had been tied up by Dorner after they found him in their rental cabin called 911 after managing to free themselves. Heltebrake’s phone call came after that.