The next day was the last of the week and Gabe thought the weekend could not arrive faster. He was teased and labeled the “Angel of Death” among his squadmates. Although it was harmless jocularity aimed at his recent encounters, Gabe felt there may have been some semblance of truth in the unwanted moniker. He tried to shake it off but death did seem to follow.
Gabe took advantage of the quiet evening and sat talking with his squadmate about anything outside of death, dying or anything of a depressing nature. They had found their favorite hiding place within their shared beat, underneath a giant mossy oak tree in a vacant lot. The lot was behind a commercial zone off the main thoroughfare, so they could easily respond to calls for service when needed.
As the squadmate spoke happily of his girlfriend and their plans to marry soon, the alert tone brought them back to the reality of police work. An armed robbery had been reported on the other side of the district. A desperate man in a ski mask had held up a clerk at a convenient store and made off with the contents of the cash register. Other members of the squad responded to the scene to work the call but Gabe and the squadmate felt compelled to at least help out. The responding officers got on scene and quickly relayed the suspect’s description and added that he fled in a vehicle parked down the street. Gabe kept his eyes open for the vehicle as he responded knowing the excitement of a car chase would replace the lingering haunt of death.
As the call was worked, Gabe looked around the outlying areas for the suspect and his vehicle. He was about to give up the futile attempt at finding a needle in a haystack when somebody keyed up on the radio after spotting the fleeing vehicle. Gabe was close by and turned to cut off the suspect. Before he could get there, the suspect crashed and was seen fleeing on foot into a neighborhood. K-9 units and a helicopter were dispatched to the area to help search for the armed robber. Gabe and his squadmate took up perimeter posts on the south boundary of the perimeter. He listened intently as the dog tracked the suspect through backyards and over fences. Given the path the dog was following, the suspect was heading in the opposite way of where Gabe and the squadmate were set up.
Tempted to leave his post and adjust to where the track was heading, Gabe sat tight knowing the glory would not be his on this night. He yelled down the fifty yards to the squadmate’s post inquiring where he wanted to eat dinner after the call was finished. Before the squadmate answered, the sound of a fence clinking and the crash of a falling person was heard somewhere off in the darkness. It came from behind the houses between Gabe’s and the squadmate’s perimeter position. Gabe and the squadmate took cover behind their respective patrol cars and instantly withdrew their weapons.
They waited for the suspect immergence, but nothing happened. In an attempt to remain silent so as to not make the suspect aware of their presence, they nodded and threw hand signs back at each other as they formulated a plan to approach the area where the sound originated. After a few moments, they crept out from behind cover with their guns drawn and held up at the ready. They bravely walked toward danger in search of an armed suspect.They stealthily approached the back yard of a house where all the lights were off, an ideal hiding spot for a criminal. The cops inched their way slowly so as to sneak up on the unsuspecting felon and surprise him into submission to avoid a violent confrontation. As they neared the corner, they checked each other with a knowing look and in unison broke the corner of the house with guns up and their flashlights coming to life illuminating the back yard.
To their dismay, the noisy culprit was a scavenging raccoon digging for its evening meal in the homeowners garbage can and not the armed robber. They shooed the animal away and relaxed finding the humor in the situation. They scanned the back yard for any signs of the real perpetrator but did not find any. As they walked back to the front of the house, they continued the debate on where dinner was going to be.As they walked into the front yard, the orange glow of the street light shone bright in their eyes and cast shadows behind them. Gabe looked down to maintain his “night eyes” as he continued back to the perimeter post. As he looked up, a shadowy figure moved within several feet to his right catching him off guard. The glint of metal reflected from the street light flashed across Gabe’s face as he realized he was in a standoff with the armed suspect. His gun was still out and he had the suspect dead to right, but he saw him raise up the gun in slow motion and felt there was nothing he could do to stop it.
“No, no, no…” he begged the suspect. Not because he didn’t want to get shot, but because he was being forced to shoot the suspect. He’d seen enough death and didn’t want to be the cause.
Flashes of fire and bright lights bounced back and forth by the yard’s edge. After the brief fire fight, Gabe felt distant and withdrawn from the scene but reality came crashing down as his ears were ringing and his nostrils stung of warm gun powder. He was still standing but the suspect fell. He watched in awesome terror as the suspect writhed in pain from the searing hot lead that pierced his body. He checked himself, finding everything intact and knew he was the victor and had survived. But, another life was taken.
He rushed to the suspect’s side to assess the lethality of his rounds. He cursed the man for making him shoot and berated him for the selfish actions. He noticed the rounds were low and the man was gut shot and took one in the shoulder. It hurt like hell, he was sure, but this was survivable and only if he acted quickly.
Gabe yelled back for help from his squadmate as he frantically secured the suspect and started to treat his wounds. He focused on applying pressure to the man’s stomach as he howled in pain and hadn’t notice his cries for help went unanswered. Gabe looked up and yelled over at the squadmate for his help again but stopped in horror.
The squadmate was lying on the cold wet ground of the front yard holding his neck that was bleeding profusely. Gabe instantly left the suspect and ran to his partner’s side. He looked down in pure helplessness as his friend was fighting for his life. A round fired from the suspect, intended for Gabe, struck the squadmate who had been standing behind and hit him in the neck. He tried to talk but only strained gurgles of blood and saliva came out. Gabe hysterically screamed on the radio for help and held his hands against the gushing tidal wave of blood pouring from his friend’s neck. He was powerless as he watched the light fade.