Rick Heltebrake was near Highway 38 in the Big Bear area when he came face-to-face with Christopher Dorner -- the subject of a Southern California manhunt after a series of slayings linked to a revenge plot -- armed with a gun and "dressed for action."
Heltebrake became a carjack victim in the final hours of a widespread and nearly week-long manhunt for Dorner, the former LAPD officer who police said shot and killed three people before a deadly shootout with deputies Tuesday afternoon in Big Bear. The shootout began after Heltebrake's stolen pickup was found in the Angelus Oaks area (map) of the mountain resort community.
Heltebrake, who runs a Boy Scout Camp in the area, recognized Dorner when he saw him on a road near camp property, about a mile from Highway 38.
"Christopher Dorner came out of the trees," said Heltebrake.
A crashed vehicle, possibly also stolen by Dorner, was behind him in the snow, Heltebrake said. Dorner pointed a gun at Heltebrake and demanded his vehicle, he said.
Heltebrake, 61, told NBC4 Dorner said, "I don't want to hurt you" and told him to get his dogs from the vehicle.
"I stopped my truck, put it in park, raised my hands, and he said, 'I don't want to hurt you; just get out and start walking up the road and take your dog,' which is what I did," Heltebrake said. "He was very calm. I stayed calm."
Dorner was "dressed for action" in military fatigues and appeared to be wearing a protective vest, Heltebrake said.
Just seconds later, Heltebrake said he heard gunfire. He hid behind a tree and called deputies, Heltebrake said.
Later Tuesday, investigators found charred remains in a nearby cabin that burned after a shootout involving Dorner and deputies. A San Bernardino County Sheriff's deputy was killed in the exchange.
Forensics tests will determine whether the charred remains are those of Dorner.