Karen and Jim Reynolds were next to see him inside their cabin-style condo within 100 yards of a command post for the manhunt when they arrived to ready it for vacationers.
Dorner, who at the time was being sought for three killings, confronted the couple with a drawn gun, “jumped out and hollered ‘stay calm,’” Jim Reynolds said at a news conference.
His wife screamed and ran, but Dorner caught her, Reynolds said. The couple said they were taken to a bedroom where Dorner ordered them to lie on a bed and then on the floor. Dorner bound their arms and legs with plastic ties, gagged them with towels and covered their heads with pillowcases.
“I really thought it could be the end,” Karen Reynolds said.
The couple believed Dorner had been staying in the cabin at least since Feb. 8, the day after his burned truck was found nearby. Dorner told them he had been watching them by day from inside the cabin as they did work outside. The couple, who live nearby, only entered the unit Tuesday.
“He said we are very hard workers,” Karen Reynolds said.
After Dorner fled in their purple Nissan Rogue, Karen Reynolds managed to call 911 from a cellphone on the coffee table.
Police have not commented on the Reynoldses’ account, but the notion of him holed up just across the street from the command post was shocking to many, but not totally surprising to some experts familiar with the complications of such a manhunt.
“Chilling. That’s the only word I could use for that,” said Ed Tatosian, a retired SWAT commander for the Sacramento Police Department. “It’s not an unfathomable oversight. We’re human. It happens.”
Law enforcement officers, who had gathered outside daily for briefings, were stunned by the revelation. One official later looking on Google Earth exclaimed that he’d parked right across the street from the Reynoldses’ cabin each day.
The sheriff’s department has refused to answer questions about how one of the largest manhunts in years could have missed Dorner.
Timothy Clemente, a retired FBI SWAT team leader who was part of the search for Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph, said searchers had to work methodically. When there’s a hot pursuit, they can run after a suspect into a building. But in a manhunt, the search has to slow down and police have to have a reason to enter a building.
“You can’t just kick in every door,” he said.