Man who played role in Dorner saga stakes claim

A lawyer for a San Bernardino County resident sent a letter to Irvine laying claim to the city's $100,000 contribution to a reward created during the manhunt for Christopher Dorner, who went on a deadly shooting rampage in retribution for his perceived treatment while a member of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Rick Heltebrake, a Boy Scouts of America ranger at the 640-acre Camp Tahquitz in Barton Flats, was driving around after lunch Feb. 12 when a man leaped out of a snowbank and aimed a gun directly at him, Allen L. Thomas, of Long Beach-based Thomas Law Firm, wrote in the March 19 letter.

Heltebrake recognized the carjacker as the former Los Angeles officer from widespread news coverage of the focused search for him.

After escaping into the woods with his dog, Suni, Heltebrake called San Bernardino County Deputy Sheriff Paul Franklin's cell phone. Heltebrake provided his location and a description of his truck, according to the letter.

Shortly after, Dorner crashed the truck into a gully and holed up in a Big Bear-area cabin. He killed himself when surrounded by deputies.

Heltebrake and the couple Dorner tied up in a different Big Bear cabin are claiming the entire $1-million reward offered by the city of Los Angeles, but Heltebrake is the only person to specifically demand Irvine's portion.

"At this time, it is not the city's position to suggest who should get what portion or how much of the reward money," Irvine spokesman Craig Reem said. "That process is being coordinated by the city of Los Angeles."

According to the City Council resolution, Irvine's donation is set to expire in 60 days. Council members, who voted unanimously in favor of participating in this reward fund on March 12, retain the right to extend the time limit or rescind the funds altogether.

Police chief David Maggard has been appointed the city's representative in the proceedings.

Dorner's revenge rampage began in the parking lot of an Irvine condominium with the murder of newly engaged couple Monica Quan, 28, and Keith Lawrence, 27.

In the days that followed, he also killed Riverside Police Officer Michael Crain, 34, and San Bernardino Sheriff's Deputy Jeremiah MacKay, 35.

Irvine Mayor Steven S. Choi stood beside Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey, Irvine, Los Angeles and Riverside's police chiefs, and U.S. Marshal's Office and FBI representatives at a news conference where the reward was announced, more than a month before Irvine's council weighed in on the matter.

Thomas was not immediately available for comment.

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