LOS ANGELES (AP) — The vast majority of the $1 million reward offered in the manhunt for rogue ex-cop Christopher Dorner will go to a couple who he tied up in their Big Bear cabin, police said Tuesday.
The Los Angeles Police Department posted a document on its website in which a panel of three judges detailed the payouts for the much-sought reward.
They decided that about $800,000 will go to James and Karen Reynolds. Daniel McGowan, who found Dorner’s burning truck in the Big Bear area where he eventually was discovered, will get $150,000, and $50,000 will go to tow truck driver R.L. McDaniel, who reported spotting Dorner at a gas station earlier in the manhunt.
The $1 million reward was announced by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa during Dorner’s rampage in February.
Dorner had vowed warfare on LAPD officers and their families for what he called an unfair firing. He killed four people, including two law enforcement officers, during his nearly one-week run from authorities that ended with his death on Feb. 12.
A dozen parties came forward claiming they provided the key tip that ultimately led Dorner to hole up in a vacant mountain cabin where he apparently took his own life after a shootout with law enforcement.
The reward was coordinated through more than 30 agencies or entities, including the FBI, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the University of Southern California — but details of the offer were never written down, so it lacked specifics.
The uncertainty and competing legal claims have caused controversy in the months since the manhunt ended. Some entities that contributed money for the reward withdrew their pledges because Dorner wasn’t captured or convicted.
The judges’ memorandum said in awarding the money, they decided the “comparative value of the information provided and how directly it causally led to Dorner’s capture.”
The manhunt was underway Feb. 7 when McDaniel spotted Dorner at an AM/PM gas station in Corona. He was about to call police when he spotted an LAPD squad car and alerted the officers.
“As the officers interviewed Mr. McDaniel, Dorner’s vehicle turned back … and passed by the AM/PM en route to Interstate 15 northbound. Mr. McDaniel positively identified the truck,” and officers gave chase immediately, according to the document.
That chase led to two shootouts between Dorner and law enforcement. One officer was injured in the first shootout, and one was killed and another was critically wounded in the second.
Dorner then escaped 50 miles northeast to Big Bear, but that wouldn’t be known until the next breakthrough in the investigation, the document said.
McGowan, who works for the Snow Summit ski resort in Big Bear Lake, called authorities Feb. 7 after he spotted a burning truck on the side of a rarely used, unpaved fire route. He called authorities, who discovered the truck belonged to Dorner.
That information initiated an intensive, focused search for Dorner, with hundreds of Southern California law enforcement officials descending on the Big Bear Lake area. Officers went door to door hunting for Dorner in the following days, but it wasn’t until Feb. 12 that they received their next fruitful tip.
Karen Reynolds called authorities to say Dorner had held her and her husband at gunpoint and tied them up before stealing their purple Nissan SUV to escape.
Karen Reynolds identified Dorner, gave the location of the cabin and the Nissan’s description. Less than half an hour later, he was spotted by Fish and Wildlife wardens and a chase ensued.
Dorner then crashed the Reynolds’ vehicle and carjacked camp ranger Rick Heltebrake, and it was his vehicle that was tracked to a cabin where Dorner later died.
A message seeking comment was left for James Reynolds on Tuesday night.
Heltebrake filed a lawsuit last week seeking the $1 million reward but did not submit a claim under the reward’s process, according to the document. To qualify for the reward, claimants had to have contacted law enforcement and provide information that furthered the investigation and led to capture.
A message seeking comment was left for Heltebrake’s lawyer.