Carjacking by suspected ex-LAPD gunman called "surreal"

ANGELUS OAKS, California Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:30pm EST

1 of 2. Rick Heltebrake, a ranger for a Boy Scouts of America campground, tells of his truck being taken at rifle point Tuesday by former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, a man thought to be a fugitive, who barricaded himself inside a cabin and traded gunfire with sheriff's deputies, killing one, near the town of Angelus Oaks, California February 13, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Alex Gallardo

Related Topics

ANGELUS OAKS, California (Reuters) - Rick Heltebrake was driving his pickup truck through a remote campground in the mountains east of Los Angeles on Tuesday, with his dog at his side, when a man emerged from a roadside snowbank and aimed an assault-style rifle at him.

Heltebrake, 61, pulled over and immediately recognized the hulking, armed man as the fugitive ex-cop wanted in a killing spree, Christopher Dorner, whose face had been plastered on billboards, newspapers and televisions for nearly a week.

"I don't want to hurt you," Heltebrake recalled the man telling him in a calm, almost business-like manner. "Just get out, start walking, and take your dog."

Heltebrake, who works as a caretaker for the Boy Scout camp where the encounter took place, Camp Tahquitz in the San Bernardino Mountains, said he couldn't believe what was happening.

"It was surreal," he told reporters in an impromptu news conference. "It wasn't violent or anything. It was pretty calm."

Heltebrake got out and started walking down the road, just as he was ordered. The armed man climbed into his silver 2008 Dodge Ram, immediately made a U-turn and sped down the road. Seconds later, Heltebrake recounted, he heard gunfire and hid behind a tree with his dog, a Dalmatian named Suni.

Heltebrake, who said he loves his dog dearly, said he was surprised that the carjacker let him take Suni.

"Maybe that was his human side," Heltebrake said. "Maybe he had been a pet owner."

The last he saw of his truck was news footage of it stuck in the snow. "I'm sure it's full of bullet holes," he said.

Authorities say the carjacker, presumed to be Dorner, exchanged gunfire with state game wardens who gave chase after he stole Heltebrake's pickup truck and ultimately abandoned the vehicle to seek shelter in a vacant cabin.

Another shootout followed, and the cabin ultimately went up in flames.

Human remains believed to be those of Dorner were found in the charred ruins of the cabin hours later but have yet to be positively identified.

Asked whether he thought someone owed him a new truck, Heltebrake shook his head.

"I think somebody owes me $1 million," he said, referring to the reward posted for tips leading to Dorner's capture. He added he would be willing to split the sum with the housekeepers who Dorner was suspected of tying up in a cabin before Tuesday's standoff.

(Reporting and writing by Brandon Lowrey; Editing by Steve Gorman and Leslie Adler)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (1)
hardcore253 wrote:
Criminal walks up to random person, demands their vehicle.
Random person get out of car and runs, yet does not call 911.
Seconds (or minutes) later, criminal is engaged by police, and eventually caught (or in this case killed).

Random person: “WHERE’S MY REWARD MONEY?!!!”

Even though they did absolutely nothing to assist Police it catching the suspect. This behavior can be summed in one word:


Feb 14, 2013 1:15pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Full focus