Battle for reward ensues over capture of fugutive cop Christopher Dorner
The biggest US manhunt in living memory ended with the fugitive taking his own life as his mountain cabin burned around him. But the case of Christopher Dorner, who killed four people during his rampage in southern California last month, is not over.
Now comes the tussle for the reward money.
A park ranger who was car-jacked by Dorner is claiming the US$1.2m reward offered for information leading to his capture and arrest.
Rich Heltebrake said Dorner, dressed in military camouflage, 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.
The reward offer was made by Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other groups.
"Mr Villaraigosa made a promise of that much money for the capture and conviction of Mr Dorner and I believe my phone call directly led to the end of the biggest manhunt in southern California history," Heltebrake said.
In the claim filed on February 19, his lawyer wrote: "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."
Dorner died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head in the cabin, which was burned after police used incendiary tear gas in an attempt to drive him out.
Heltebrake said he did not think anyone expected Dorner to be captured and arrested. "But, you know, in all intents and purposes, that's what happened. When you're captured you're not free to leave," he said. "Well he was in the cabin and he wasn't free to leave."
But he is unlikely to be the sole claimant, as police received dozens of tips during the manhunt. A couple who had been tied up by Dorner in their rental cabin called police after freeing themselves. The carjacking of Heltebrake followed.
Heltebrake was ambiguous about whether he would split the reward. "It comes down to whether people qualify, and they had to make the claim first, that's the process. We'll see how that all goes," he said.
Police chief Charlie Beck said authorities would decide how to distribute the money after completion of the investigation.