By Brian Kim
After police announced a $1 million reward for information leading to the arrest of fugitive ex-cop and quadruple murder suspect Christopher Jordan Dorner on February 10, numerous possible sightings were reported to the LAPD. Just hours after the announcement, a couple of calls about a possible Dorner sighting at a local Lowe’s in Northridge led to a SWAT swarm and a store shutdown.
According to The Daily News, police locked down the Lowe’s hardware store for several hours after receiving a call at 3:33 pm. Customers were allowed to leave the store one by one.
Austin Pohevitz, a junior who lives close to the Lowe’s, explained that he initially didn’t know what was going on. “I honestly did not even think it was about Dorner at the time, I just thought that something out of the ordinary was going down.”
However, Pohevitz’s mother received an email from ABC7 stating that there was a possible Dorner sighting in Northridge at the cross-streets of Corbin and Nordhoff.
“I felt a little uneasy. Having the possibility that a man who committed multiple homicides and is still on the prowl near my neighborhood is a scary feeling to have,” said Pohevitz.
Police later determined that the call was a case of “mistaken identity,” but officers remained in the area. The LAPD received four additional calls of Dorner sightings on Sunday evening, but all were found to be false alarms.
Pohevitz suggested that the reward money offered may have inspired many of the phone calls. “One million dollars is no laughing matter,” he said.
According to the Los Angeles Times, LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck stated that the reward was “the largest local reward ever offered to our knowledge.”
“It’s not about capturing a fleeing suspect, but about preventing another crime, likely another murder,” Beck said.
Pohevitz believed that although a large reward was necessary motivate people to provide information, $1 million was a bit excessive.
“When [the police] put this out, it was instantly a frenzy to find a large black man with a bald head,” explained Pohevitz. “False accusations were made based off of racial profiling.”
The police eventually discovered Dorner’s location in a cabin in the San Bernardino Mountains, about 100 miles east of the city he was from.
Dorner was taking cover in the cabin during a shootout with law enforcement on February 12.
“[Dorner] left a sheriff’s deputy dead and another wounded,” said San Bernardino Sheriff John McMahon.
“The cabin caught fire when police shot tear gas canisters into it,” McMahon told reporters on February 13. He also explained that “[the police] did not intentionally burn down that cabin to get Mr. Dorner out.”
It is still unclear exactly how Dorner died. Police reportedly heard a single gunshot around the time the cabin ignited, indicating that Dorner might have shot himself.
Although it is true that several private citizens were instrumental in cornering Dorner, a major loophole may prevent them from receiving their reward. The $1 million award was offered for information leading to the “capture and conviction” of Dorner. As TMZ put it, “Technically speaking, Dorner must be both captured AND convicted to trigger the reward.”
“More than 20 jurisdictions and entities are involved in this reward, so all of them will be coming together to collectively determine whether any individual or individuals qualify for it,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Beck in a joint statement on Feb 14. “Our personal hope is that the reward will be distributed, but we must follow the rules and respect the procedures of each entity.”
Dorner’s mother, Nancy Dorner, expressed condolences for the victims in a statement given to anchor Robin Sax at Fox 11 Los Angeles. “It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we express our deepest sympathies and condolences to anyone that suffered losses or injuries resulting from Christopher’s actions. We do not condone Christopher’s actions. The family has no further comments and ask that our privacy be respected during this difficult time.”