Date: September 9, 2014
"Out of the Chaos"
- As promised - The following is from Chapter Two of "Out of the Chaos".
As we began our trek, through the maze of equipment and hoses to where the make-shift morgue, Chuck had spotted where the fire department’s Battalion Chief was commanding the scene from, and headed in his direction for his assessment of the situation. Battalion Chief Angelo, who knew both Chuckie and I spotted us at about the same time, and waved for us to come over to him.
When we reached Battalion Chief Angelo, he was just finishing giving instructions to an arriving ladder truck. Once he had completed his broadcast, he let us know that there were a total of eight dead at this point, and that there were five still trapped on the upper floors. He then added that there were ten or so witnesses sitting inside the big rescue truck, waiting to talk to us.
We never got a chance to ask him any questions, as another arriving truck called in, and Battalion Chief Angelo, continued his choreographing of the conflagration, and the efforts to bring it under control. Battalion Chief Angelo was giving each newly arriving truck their assignment over the radio, so that they knew exactly what and where to deploy. Chuck gave the Chief thumbs up and we took our leave, and headed toward the Rescue Truck to see about the witnesses. We both knew that talking to the witnesses, while the information was fresh in their minds, was paramount. The stories that the dead could tell would not change while we talked to the living.
I was just reaching for my for the transmit button for the headset attached to my radio to bring, our boss, the Chief of Detectives up to date, when I heard the other homicide team that was on duty tonight, call me on the radio. I directed them to make their way to the Rescue Truck to get statements from the witnesses that were waiting there. I ended my transmission with a message for the Chief of Detectives, advising him of my directive to our support team. I knew he had already heard my transmission to them, but I didn’t want him to feel like I was over-riding his authority. I was the assigned lead detective for this shift, and I had just acted instinctively, based on the new information we had just received from the Battalion Chief.
I had to admit that I was very happy to hear him reply, “Good call Charlie, thank you for the update.” As soon as Chuck was sure the mic was off, he looked at me with a big smile on his face and made marks on the imaginary wall in front of us. This was his way of telling me that I had scored points with the boss.
We continued making our way through the maze of hose and equipment, until we were finally standing in front of the building next to the scene. We were greeted with the sight of a row of bodies, arraigned so that they were protected from both falling water, and/or debris from the fire, under the facade of what had been the major movie house in the city years ago. There were eight bodies, at present, each one lying under their own blanket or tarp.
Patrolman Dave Johnson was the only uniformed officer attending to the bodies. Battalion Chief Angelo, had already let us know that officer Johnson had volunteered to maintain a security detail with the bodies to ensure that they were not disturbed prior to the CSI Technicians and the corner’s people arrival.
Chuck and I both knew that this was probably not the first time that Officer Johnson had performed such duty Officer Dave Johnson was the Command Master Sergeant, and senior MP, for his reserves division, which was part of the 10th Mountain located at Camp Drum. I looked at Chuckie, and with a smile, not really fitting facial expression for the sight that lay before us, but ten years in homicide, tends to harden us to situations like this. So without changing my facial expression I quietly asked Chuck, “Do you want to wager that Dave is the one responsible for making sure that they were all protected from the elements and residue from the fire, and that he has already checked them out before we got there.
Officer Dave Johnson did not let us down, plus his experiences in combat where also showing when he greeted us with; “Finally a sight worth looking at, and I don’t me you Chuck.” And then he added; “They’re not a pretty sight Charlie.”
I looked over at him, and was somewhat surprised, with his relaxed greeting, to see a look of deep concern on his face, as well as the fact that his service weapon was in his hand. ”I’ll take that as a compliment. You look worried, something that we should know about?”
Without looking back, he added, “Check out the first two on the left. I’d be willing to bet my next paycheck that not all of their wounds are from the explosion and fire.”
I know that both Chuck’s and my alert level were quickly heightened. We had worked cases with Officer Dave Johnson before, and knowing his military background, and the fact that he has done three tours in Afghanistan, we always took his observations seriously.
Chuck held out a group of evidence numbers and bags for me to use. “You can do the checking and tagging Charlie, I’ll cover, and help Dave keep an eye out for any signs of a shooter.”
Smashwords pre order