(LOS ANGELES) — The California couple held hostage by Christopher Dorner, the ex-Los Angeles Police Department cop suspected of killing four people, said their ordeal lasted a few minutes but seemed like hours.
Karen and Jim Reynolds said at a news conference on Wednesday that they think Dorner, 33, was holed up in their unoccupied San Bernardino Mountains cabin since Friday, only steps from where cops had set up a command center.
“He said four or five times that he didn’t have a problem with us, he just wanted to clear his name,” Jim said. “He said I don’t have a problem with you, so I’m not going to hurt you.”
Dorner tied their arms and put pillowcases over their heads before fleeing in their purple Nissan.
Before he fled, the couple said Dorner told them that he had been watching them before he took over their cabin. Dorner told the couple he could tell they were “hard working, good people.”
“He had been watching us and saw me shoveling the snow Friday,” Jim said.
The two said they left the cabin door unlocked and that could have been the reason Dorner was able to enter undetected.
Dorner remained “calm and meticulous” throughout the harrowing ordeal, the couple said.
The Reynolds were some of the last people to see Dorner before what appears to be his final encounter with police.
Charred remains of the body believed to be Dorner were removed from another cabin high in the San Bernardino Mountains near Big Bear, Calif., on Wednesday, the apparent site of Dorner’s last stand.
The Reynolds walked into their cabin around noon Tuesday when they came face-to-face with Dorner. There was no question in their minds who he was: the suspected cop killer at the center of one of the largest manhunts in recent memory.
“I thought we were dead,” Jim said with a nervous chuckle.
The whole ordeal lasted about 15 minutes, but felt much longer for the couple.
“It felt like 15 hours with him,” Karen said.
The Reynolds finally managed to break free and untie themselves after Dorner escaped with their car. Jim called 911 on a cellphone he managed to stuff in a couch cushion without Dorner’s knowing.
After Dorner fled the Reynolds’ cabin, he moved to another cabin in the area where he apparently engaged in a shootout with police, killing one deputy and wounding another, before the building was consumed by flames.
“We did not intentionally burn down that cabin to get Mr. Dorner out,” San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon told reporters Wednesday evening, although he noted that pyrotechnic canisters known as “burners” were fired into the cabin during a tear-gas assault in an effort to flush out Dorner.
The canisters generate high temperatures, he added.
While the actual cause of the fire is still unknown, the manhunt for Dorner has ceased and the Reynolds’ story fills in much of what police didn’t know about his whereabouts since he crashed his car and set it ablaze last week.
“The events that occurred [Tuesday] in the Big Bear area brought to close an extensive manhunt,” McMahon said.
“I cannot absolutely, positively confirm it was him,” he added.
The deceased deputy was identified as Det. Jeremiah MacKay, 35, a 15-year veteran and the father of two children: a daughter, 7, and son, 4 months old.
Dorner is also suspected of killing Monica Quan and her fiance, who were found shot to death on Feb. 3. Quan was the daughter of former LAPD Capt. Randal Quan, who was mentioned as a target of Dorner’s fury in his manifesto.
Dorner is also suspected in the shooting death of Riverside Police Officer Michael Crain. His funeral was Wednesday.
In a 6,000-word “manifesto,” Dorner outlined his anger at the Los Angeles Police Department for firing him, and made threats against individuals he believed were responsible for ending his career with the police force five years ago. Dorner was fired after filing what the LAPD determined to be a false report accusing other cops of brutality.
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