Jim and Karen Reynolds were in the process of refurbishing their condo near Big Bear, working on it off and on through the winter season. They had last been there on Feb. 6 and weren’t planning to come back until Valentine’s Day, but decided to check in early after learning that Dorner’s truck had been abandoned nearby.
When they walked into the upstairs living room Tuesday morning, Dorner was waiting for them with his gun drawn. He had been there at least five days — within shouting distance of a command post set up by the people hunting him.
“Stay calm,” he shouted. When Karen Reynolds turned to run out, he grabbed her from behind.
Karen Reynolds said Dorner was calm and “very methodical” as he instructed them to sit, then tied their hands and legs.
“I don’t have a problem with you,” he told the couple. “I just want to clear my name.”
Dorner moved the couple to a bedroom and shut the door.
When they felt he had gone, Karen Reynolds managed to get to her feet and, with her hands still tied behind her back, open the door. To her amazement, Dorner had left her cell phone on the living room table.
She picked it up and dialed 911. It was 12:22 p.m. Tuesday.
Dorner had taken off in the couple’s purple Nissan SUV. It wasn’t long before officers, now alerted, spotted the fugitive.
Dorner managed to evade a group of wardens from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and some sheriff’s deputies. But he later crashed the Nissan and struck out on foot.
Rick Heltebrake was driving the perimeter of a Boy Scout camp he watches over when Dorner — his bulletproof vest bristling with rifle magazines — emerged from the tree line.
“I don’t want to hurt you,” Dorner said in a calm, businesslike voice as he pointed his rifle at the 51-year-old Heltebrake. “Start walking and take your dog.”
Heltebrake sensed that Dorner, who stole his truck, was on a mission, and that he wasn’t part of the agenda. Suni took his 3-year-old Dalmatian and walked away.
Heltebrake had just called police when he heard gunfire.
When he left the house that morning, MacKay told his wife that he’d never been happier, Mitchell, his cousin, said. He called her the love of his life.
Hours later, he was on the trail of the stolen pickup.
The fugitive raced 25 miles down the mountain as officers converged. MacKay and his partner, Alex Collins, responded.
Not far up the road from where Dorner had left Heltebrake, some game wardens spotted the white truck speeding erratically. Dorner opened the window and fired.
According to sheriff’s department officials, MacKay and his partner followed where they believed the truck had gone. They were unaware that Dorner had crashed it. They spotted tracks in the snow leading to a cabin and got out of their cruiser.
The pair stopped about 30 yards from the cabin to devise a plan when shots were fired. Neither deputy had a chance to return fire. Both were hit multiple times. A doctor told Loftis death for MacKay came instantly or in “just seconds.”
Collins survived but has undergone multiple surgeries. A SWAT team arrived quickly and laid down covering fire to allow the officers to be airlifted.
Dorner set off some smoke grenades and prepared to make his last stand. His end game would play out on live television.
Officers from across the region converged on the cabin, cutting off all escape. Four hours after the chase Tuesday, police launched tear gas through the windows.
Around 4:45 p.m., flames and smoke began billowin
g from the house. Officers then heard the single gunshot from inside.
The manhunt was over.