Owner of stolen truck says Dorner didn’t want to hurt him
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The man who fugitive ex-cop Christopher Dorner allegedly stole a truck from just hours before an explosive showdown with authorities said Wednesday he did not believe the alleged quadruple-killer wanted to hurt him.
Still, Angelus Oaks resident Rick Heltebrake said Dorner pointed a large assault-type rifle at his head.
“I did not feel like he wanted to hurt me,’ the local camp ranger said. ‘It was clear I wasn’t part of his agenda and there were other people down the road that were part of his agenda. Unfortunately, he found them, and now we have one less sheriff’s deputy in San Bernardino.” PHOTOS: Manhunt for ex-LAPD officer
For the 61-year-old Heltebrake, Tuesday began with a quiet lunch at the Oaks Restaurant. He runs a camp in Angelus Oaks and wanted to grab a bite to eat before heading down Glass Road to check on his camp.
About noon Tuesday, he got going. Riding in his silver 2008 Dodge RAM pickup truck on California 38, he turned onto Glass Road and saw something that struck him as “odd.”
There was a sheriff’s vehicle driving along with not one, but two deputies in it. And there was also a California Department of Fish and Wildlife vehicle, strangely also with two wardens inside.
“I could tell they weren’t in the mood to talk,” Heltebrake said, “and they were on the way to something.”
The camp, just over a mile down the road looked good, so Heltebrake turned back around and headed toward the highway. But about a half mile before he reached the highway, Heltebrake noticed something moving in the trees. It was a person with a gun dressed in camouflage and a ballistics vest, with pockets that were full.
“He was ready for action,” Heltebrake said. “Right away I knew it was Mr. Dorner.”
And behind Dorner was a wrecked vehicle.
“He came at me with his gun leveled at my head,” Heltebrake said. “I stopped, put my truck in park, raised my hands, and he said, ‘I don’t want to hurt you, just get out, start walking up the road and take your dog.’ I said, ‘Can I get her leash?’ He said, ‘No, just start walking.’ ” TIMELINE: Manhunt for ex-LAPD officer
So Heltebrake took his 3-year-old Dalmatian, Suni, and did what he was told. About 10 seconds later, he said, he heard a volley of gunfire –- about 10 to 20 shots.
Dorner had jacked Heltebrake’s truck and started driving on Glass Road toward Highway 38. There, Dorner encountered two vehicles staffed by Fish and Wildlife wardens and fired at one of their vehicles. Wardens returned fire, authorities said.
The gunfire, Heltebrake said, was enough to throw him into a panic. He ran through the snow and hid behind a large tree. Then he called a deputy on his cellphone, and told him, “He took my truck.” Then he ran through the snow back to the highway, phoned a friend to pick him up, and they pulled over to wait near a roadblock.
Hours later, a nearby cabin would go up in flames.
On Wednesday, Heltebrake retold his story to gathered media outside Whispering Pines Cabins, in Angelus Oaks not far from the Oaks Restaurant.
He described Dorner as ‘calm.’
‘He wasn’t wide-eyed and crazy,’ Heltebrake said of Dorner. ‘Kind of professional. I was calm. He wanted me to do something and I did it.’
Now Heltebrake’s truck is gone, and he said he has no way to get around. But he hopes a payday is on its way.
“Someone owes me $1 million,” he said, referring to the massive reward offered for Dorner.
“It was my call that led the officers to him,” he said. Then he paused.
“I know there were two other women involved and I don’t mind parting it three ways.”
-- Ruben Vives in Big Bear and Matt Stevens in Los Angeles