Newly released surveillance video showed a wanted homicide suspect tossing several items into a dumpster behind a National City store 48 hours before the crime spree that prompted a manhunt throughout the Southwest.
Former Los Angeles Police Department officer Christopher Dorner is suspected in a series of attacks over the past week that left three people dead including a Riverside police officer.
Authorities say he has vowed revenge against several former LAPD colleagues whom he blames for ending his career.
NBC 7 San Diego has obtained surveillance video through sources close to the investigation. The video was taken outside an auto parts store on Main Street in National City at 9:07 a.m. Monday. The store is located directly across the street from the National City police station.
On the video, a Nissan Titan truck pulls up to a dumpster and stops. For four minutes – someone unloads items from the back.
Majid Yahyai is an employee at Platinum Auto Sports.
“He was right on the tape, I mean he went, came back, made a u- turn stopped,” Yahyai said.
A man matching Dorner’s description stops near a second dumpster closer to the discreetly- mounted security camera.
Wearing jeans and a jacket the man walks over to the passenger door and begins searching through more belongings.
“He was for three, four minutes inside his car looking for things,” Yahyai said.
This time he throws away what we now know was a magazine full of bullets with their tips carefully sawed off, a green military belt strap, and a brown camouflage helmet.
The items were discovered within a half hour by an employee.
Police aren't disclosing specifics about the items found in the first dumpster - but it was all a huge find for detectives, who were equally elated to find it was all captured on video.
For those at this shop who were there working as it happened - the encounter is a little too close to home.
"So he missed him by 20 - 30 minutes at most, if he'd of gone 20 minutes earlier probably he would've seen him back here. Scary,” Yahyai said.
Yahyai said he and the employee took the items across the street to a police station. They told NBC 7 San Diego they were just happy to help in the investigation.
Saturday was the third full day of a massive multi-agency hunt for Dorner in the San Bernardino mountains, about 80 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles, where Dorner's burned-out pickup truck was discovered Thursday.
A scaled-back search party took advantage of a break from stormy weather to search for Dorner using heat-sensing helicopters as vacationing families and weekend skiers frolicked nearby.
A law enforcement officer told The Associated Press authorities found weapons in the truck. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because the probe is ongoing.
Investigators have been examining the truck to determine if it broke down or was set ablaze as a diversion. Police say the truck had a broken axle.
Investigators are trying to determine whether it was already broken when they found it, or whether it was damaged when it was towed away.