Suddenly, three alert tones on the radio,
“201, 202, 2S1”
“Report of shots fired, Kent Farm, Gemini Drive, Black male armed with a rifle, multiple
victims, respond Code 3″
“2Lincoln1” the voice of Lieutenant Charley Ackerly came over the radio.
“2Lincoln1, stand by, further info on shooter, last seen”
The radio became a mess of unintelligible noises as several cars all tried calling at once. Finally, silence.
“2Lincoln1 to dispatch YOU stand by, I am on Gemini now and there is nothing here, NOTHING, got it, tell those damn cars to slow down, do you still have the caller on the line?”
“All units, from 2Lincoln1, slow down, nothing showing on Gemini. Caller hung up, Lieutenant. No other calls”
“2Lincoln1, have two units, and only two units respond here and look around, pull the 911 recording I’ll be in the station in five minutes”
More alert tones.
“202, 207, 2S1, 2Lincoln1” the dispatcher, one of the good ones, was rattled, “Armed Robbery , shots fired, Cumberland Farms, Taunton Ave at City Hall, witness says two people shot in the head, suspect on foot, east toward Broadway, light skinned black male, 6 foot, hooded sweatshirt, witness says suspect armed with sawed off shotgun”
“2Lincoln1, we are getting multiple calls on this one, suspect running towards 6 Corners”
Every cop now knew the first call was bullshit, this was the real one, the other a pathetic ruse.
“Now we get to do some real work, Cheeks, and we are right there” Josh jumped on the accelerator and the car stalled. “fucking moron city mechanics, can’t they even tune a car properly!” Josh restarted the car and headed onto Grosvenor ave and there he was. Josh threw the car into park and was out the door.
The guy in the hoodie saw the unmarked car for what it was and ran. It was clear he was holding something under the sweatshirt as he ran. Josh yelled into the radio for cars to move onto Grosvenor to cut him off. As he did this he remembered all those times he told people “Don’t yell into the radio, it makes it unreadable”. Yet he continued to yell locations. Adrenaline is a compelling chemical.
The suspect seemed injured because as he was running there was a strangeness to his movements, a stiffness in the right leg, an awkward running motion.
“Maybe he has the shotgun down his pants?” Josh thought.
But he was still pretty quick. John St onto Grove St into the church parking lot. As they neared Saint Domenicks, he heard one of the cars call they had a suspect in custody. Strange how that could be since Josh was gaining on the guy and still had him in sight.
“Maybe there was a second guy?” No time to think about it, his guy was right there in front of him and Josh was gaining ground. The suspect turned onto the stairs and ran into the church. Josh called that he was still chasing the suspect fitting the description and radioed that he was entering the front and to set up a perimeter outside the church.
Churches are always dark. Probably to enhance the mystery or the fear depending on the particular religious flavor. Saint Domenick’s was no different, Dark wood pews and altar, minimal lighting to save money, probably to pay all those lawsuits from altar boys used for unadvertised purposes.
Father Jim, now the Pastor of this church, heard the door open, saw Jo-Jo run in, and dive behind the altar. As soon as he saw Jo-Jo he knew him right away, one doesn’t forget a face you’ve seen over and over in your mind every night for 15 years.
Father Jim closed the door enough so he couldn’t be seen but could still see out. He watched Jo-Jo crouch down and pull something from his sweatshirt. He couldn’t quite make it out but it looked like a gun.
“On my God, he thinks Father MacLoughlin is still here, or he’s coming for me. Mary Mother of God why now, after all this time?” Another sound drew his attention to the front of the church. He saw Josh come in, low, fast, and with his weapon drawn. “Thank God” he thought, “Josh must have seen him come in, he’ll stop him”.
Josh had his Sig Sauer out. He was one of a few that refused to go to the Glock, he preferred the precision of the Sig to the more commonly used Glock. The Sig has nice low light sights, fit well in his hand, and gave him the confidence needed should the opportunity arise.
And precisely at that moment, it did.
Movement to the right.
Blue hooded head behind the altar moved toward the Sacristy.
“Stop right there you motherfucker or I will blow that fucking hood off with your head in it”
While the language was a tool to get the guy’s immediate and complete attention, Josh was struck by the irony of such words being directed at a individual on an altar in a Catholic Church. Josh had long ago come to see the fallacy and contradictions of organized religion. But 12 years of CCD and Church every Sunday is a hard habit to break. There was an ingrained discomfit with those words, spoken in anger, here on a platform many viewed as sacred.
People say time slows down during a dramatic event. What actually happens is the brain comes alive. It focuses its’ innate resources and power to create a more in-depth and complete record of the activity. The mind’s ability to gather, evaluate, and record is exceptional and rarely fully used, except when confronted with what could be it’s sudden and immediate termination.
Nothing brings clarity like the unwelcome opportunity to die.
Twenty-five feet separated Josh from someone who had likely shot two people in the head.
Father Jim heard Josh yell, heard the words spoken in anger. “Why would anyone use those words in a Church?” He almost opened the door fully but hesitated when he saw the guy trying to move towards the door.
Josh moved closer, aiming his weapon at Jo-Jo.
Father Jim saw Jo-Jo starting to move again “My God, he’s pointing a gun at me!” …….and then he heard the voice, it sounded older, but was the same sadness from all those many years ago…….
“I tried to get him to stop, I tried to get him to stop….”
Josh tried to focus on the guys hand’s. Eyes betray emotion, falsehood, and fear. Hands will kill you. Looks can’t kill, trigger fingers do. The guy kept looking from Josh to the sacristy, perhaps measuring his chances of making it out there without getting shot. He was talking but Josh couldn’t make it out
“Was there someone else there?” Josh looked at his legs, one was bent in the classic sniper crawl, knee angled away from the body, sliding him forward, the other was straight back with his foot trying to contribute to the motion. “which part of don’t move motherfucker aren’t you getting, asshole?”. Josh yelled again “stop moving now or you are a dead man”
The guy slowed his movement.
But something was wrong, “Where were his hands , where the fuck were his hands!”
Josh saw a flash of metal “a gun?, a barrel? damn it!” moving from under his leg toward Josh.
” Look for the hands, the hands will hurt you” he thought.
Then he saw the hand moving towards him, holding something black, lifting it towards him.
Josh heard the voice, clearer, pleading, almost sobbing.
” I tried to get him to stop, I tried to get him to stop”. The voice was crying.
Josh thought ” oh man the guys a nut, a nut with a gun and trying to point it at me!”
Father Jim closed the door.
The click of the latch echoed throughout the church, sounding louder than he’d ever heard.
Josh looked through the sites and brought his aim to center mass.
“Misfire? Is he trying to fire the weapon, why the fuck won’t he stop moving?”
There comes a time in every potentially fatal encounter….where potentiality is overcome by the instinct to survive. The decision is made, it’s just the mechanics of the process that remain.
Josh took a breath, and squeezed.
13 pounds of trigger pull is all it takes for the first round and 3 pounds after that with the DASA (double action, single action) Josh preferred. Josh fired three rounds, saw them impact, saw the involuntary jerk of the body, saw the pink spray from the round that hit the head, Smelled the powder burn and blood.
Father Jim heard more yelling…….and then three shots.
“I tried to get him to stop”. And finally, Jo-Jo stopped moving.
Father Jim opened the door a bit and looked out again, saw Josh leaning over the guy, trying to stop the bleeding, doing CPR, and could hear Josh yelling at the guy not to die.
And Father Jim once again did what he had done on that terrible night so long ago. He quietly walked back into the residence connected to the church and waited for them to come find him, where he would deny knowing or seeing anything. For this, he knew there was no absolution.
Jenn Hamlin came running in.
“Josh, Josh!” she yelled.
As she moved closer she saw Josh leaning over the guy. “what the hell was he doing,”she thought.
She yelled “Josh, what the fuck are you do…”
And then she heard him.
“Don’t you die, you motherfucker, don’t you do that to me!”
And she realized he was doing CPR, he was trying to SAVE the guy!
As she got closer, she saw the dark, blood pool under the hood, saw the shattered right side of the head, saw the bubbles in the chest with each of the compressions.
“Josh, Josh, stop, he’s gone” she touched his shoulder.
” Why the fuck did he do that, why did he make me shoot him?” Josh was yelling “I told him to stop, I tried to get him to stop….”. Echoing the guy’s very last words.
“it’s okay, you had no choice, come on with me, let’s go outside”
Several other officers arrived and started securing the scene.
A cell phone rang and the officers looked at the body, the cell phone was in Jo-Jo’s hand.
They looked towards Josh and then turned away, trying to look busy.
Jenn took Josh outside and sat on the front stairs. “look at me” she said “you did what you had to do, you had no choice, he shot two people, he would have shot you, it’s okay, you’ll be okay”
Sgt. Adam Stevenson, Internal affairs, came over to Hamlin. “L T can I talk to you for a moment”
“it can wait” Jenn said “wait until the shooting team gets here, I want to stay with Josh”
“No, L T, it can’t wait”.
“Josh” she said gently “I will be right back” Josh continued to stare off into the sky, shaking his head.
When they had moved a distance away Stevenson said “did you see a weapon in there?”
Jenn was angry “you fucking leech, you haven’t been here thirty seconds and you want to fuck him over? He just killed someone for God’s sake, show some compassion”
Stevenson glanced over at Josh.
“We have another guy in custody, but no weapon yet, and he has a major fucking fracture in his skull”
“Good” Jenn said “I’d open the prick up myself if he was here”
Stevenson continued “there’s more, the witness says he” motioning his head toward the church “may have tried to stop the robbery”
Jenn looked at Stevenson, confused “What the hell are you talking about?”
“Lieutenant” Stevenson said “according to the witness, the guy in the church, the one Josh just shot, tried to STOP the robbery, he clocked the guy we have in custody with the shotgun”
Jenn couldn’t quite get her mind around this. How could this be?