A man who was carjacked by alleged cop killer Christopher Dorner in California's Big Bear mountains on Tuesday escaped only seconds before a deadly shootout began.
"I was happy that he let me go and had me take my dog,'' Rick Heltebrake told Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Wednesday. "I got to tell you, not more than 10 seconds after that I was walking up the road, and that's when I heard a volley of gunfire. At that point I bailed into the snow and hid behind a tree and called the local deputy up here on his personal cell phone and told him what was going on. That's when everything started happening and then I found out later what was happening with those gunshots.''
Late Tuesday, investigators found charred human remains in a California mountain cabin where they believe Dorner was holed up. The former Los Angeles police officer is accused of killing three people in a rampage that started on Feb. 3 and was the target of the largest manhunt in Los Angeles history.
Dorner is believed to have tied up two women who came to clean the cabin, which is across the street from a police station, and then stole their car. After crashing the car, authorities then believe he encountered Heltebrake and stole his truck. Heltebrake was about half a mile from the highway checking a property on which he runs a Boy Scout camp.
"I saw him right away," Heltebrake said. "I saw a vehicle that was trashed behind him in the snow. He came up to me with his gun pointed at me. 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.
"He was very calm. I stayed calm. It was a pretty serious situation based on recent events around here. Wasn't a lot of panic. Basically he told me what he wanted me to do and I did it."
Dorner was dressed in camouflage and was wearing some type of ballistic vest with unknown items in the pockets, according to Heltebrake.
"He was dressed for action.''