Operation: Kill a Cop
The door to Chief Robert T. Ironside's office banged open and Commissioner Dennis Randall came down the ramp. "Mark, is there any more coffee left?" Randall looked at his top detective who was eating a breakfast of waffles and sausages. "That looks good," he commented.
"Mark, bring the commissioner coffee and breakfast," Ironside ordered. "Obviously he has not had breakfast this morning."
In his defense, Randall told Ironside. "I had to meet with the city council this morning at seven. I did not have time for breakfast," he complained.
Mark walked into the kitchen and placed a plate of waffles and sausages in front of the police commissioner. With his other hand, he set down a cup of black coffee. "Thanks Mark." Randall sipped the coffee and began eating his waffles.
"You are welcome Commissioner," Mark responded and headed back to the kitchen.
Ironside watched as his friend ate his breakfast in silence. He knew this was not just a social visit. It rarely was these days. His caseload was full and lately Dennis kept adding to it. Ironside had a hunch he was about to add some more. This visit probably meant the city council was in a panic over something. Any time the city council panicked, Dennis headed right for Ironside's office. Whatever it was, it always was dumped in his lap. Ironside would solve it and returned peace and quiet to his boss. "Are you going to tell me what is wrong Dennis or do I have to guess?" He hated having problems thrown at him the first thing in the morning.
"What makes you think something is wrong," Randall said innocently. "I came to see how you were feeling. After all, it was only a week ago; you suffered a very serious concussion. I wanted to make sure you have recovered."
The look on the commissioner's face was filled with concern for his friend and subordinate. Ironside knew something more was bothering him. He could at least lessen one of his concerns. "I am fine Dennis. The headache has subsided, my vision has cleared and I am sleeping like a baby," Ironside assured him.
"No problems with taking on a full load then?"
"No problem." Ironside continue to along with his boss. He knew he would get around to telling him whatever he was here for but his patience was wearing thin.
"Good, I am glad to hear it. You had us all worried."
The chief took another sip of coffee and finished his breakfast.
"How's Ed doing?" Randall asked.
"He's fine." Ironside was nearly out of patience. "Eve's fine, Mark's fine, we are all fine. Now will you please tell me what's on your mind?"
Randall finished his coffee. "Well, first of all have you heard about Officers Cook and Gates?"
Ironside nodded. "Yes. They blew a tire and lost control of their patrol car. Both were killed when Gate drove off the embankment…a tragic accident. We lost two good officers."
The phone rang. Mark picked up one of the extensions and announced, "Chief Ironside's office." He listened for a moment and then informed his boss. "Chief, Carl Reese is on the phone. He says he must speak with you immediately."
Ironside addressed the commissioner, "Excuse me Dennis." He grabbed the phone in front of him and lifted the receiver. "Yes, Carl." After listening a minute his expression turned to a frown. He was obviously now worried about whatever Carl had called him about. "Is he going to be alright?" He asked the lieutenant. Another moment brought another response. "Thanks Carl. Mark and I will go to the hospital." Ironside hung up the phone.
"Bob, what's going on?" Randall asked him.
"Ed was hit by a hit and run driver when leaving his apartment this morning."
Mark dropped what he was doing and joined Ironside and Randall at the table. "Is he ok?"
"They took him by ambulance to the hospital," he reported. "He was unconscious when the paramedics arrived at the scene. Carl did not know anything other than the paramedics said it was not life threatening." Dennis, whatever you want to talk to me about will have to wait. Mark, we are going to the hospital," he said as he turned his chair toward the ramp.
"Bob, I think we should talk first. Carl said it was not life threatening. This is important. I am sure you will agree."
"Make it fast Dennis. I want to get to the hospital."
"That makes the fourth cop in three days to be involved in a questionable accidents." Randall began.
Randall now had Ironside's undivided attention. "The fourth cop?" He questioned.
"First, we have Cook and Gates running off the road." Randall drew in a breath. "Captain Smith called my office early this morning. He did not want to wake you. He received another call, which he took. He was told one of his officers, a Detective Timothy Powers did not report in this morning. When he could not be reached on his cell phone, home phone or his car's mobile unit, Jimmy sent someone to his house." Randall paused.
"And?" Ironside prompted him.
"And he was found dead in his bathtub," Randall finished.
Ironside sat silently for a moment. "Accident?"
"Well, let's just say he hit his head hard enough to kill him.
Four cops either dead or attacked," Ironside said, mostly to himself.
"Correction, even Ed's look like it could have been an accident. The driver's view coming around the corner was obstructed by that tall hedge that runs down the entire length of the property."
"Then why did the driver not stop?" Ironside asked.
"Scared, perhaps." Randall guessed.
"What does all this have to do with the city council?"
Randall looked at Ironside. "The dead cop in the bathtub is Councilman Thomas Germain's grandson. They want you on this one, Bob."
"Dennis, this one you could not keep me away from."
Mark pulled the van into the hospital parking lot. After locating a handicap spot, he pulled in and shut the van off. Ironside lowered his wheelchair to the ground. Mark took his place behind him and wheeled into the emergency entrance.
He let go of the wheelchair and Ironside wheeled over to the desk. The young woman looked up. She recognized the man in the wheelchair. She had dealt with him before when one of his officers had been injured by the Moonlight Killer. She had quickly learned Chief Ironside did not take no for an answer.
"Can I help you Chief?" she asked the wheelchair bound detective.
"One of my officers has been brought in, Sgt. Ed Brown."
"I am sorry Chief. Your people seem to visit us regularly. I will call the attending physician for you, sir." She dialed and said, "Dr. Vatter, Chief Ironside is here checking on Sgt. Brown."
Moments later, a man dressed in the traditional white coat appeared through the emergency door. "Chief Ironside?" He asked.
"That's right," Ironside responded.
"Sgt. Brown will be fine. He has no broken bones. There is no internal bleeding. He did suffer some cuts and bruises. He was knocked unconscious when the vehicle slammed into him. There is no sign of a concussion but we would like to keep him for observation just to be sure," Dr. Vatter told Ironside.
"That is not a problem," Ironside agreed.
"That is not what Sgt. Brown says. He said he has to be back in your office immediately. It has been extremely difficult trying to keep him here.
Just like Ed, thought Ironside…..duty over health. Well, that was not happening. "Can I see Sgt. Brown, please?"
"Of course Chief. Right this way." Dr. Vatter led Ironside and Mark through the emergency door and down the hall. They arrived at a section that contained examining rooms with curtains used for the privacy of the patients. When they came upon examining room number six, Dr. Vatter pulled back the curtain. There lying on the bed was Ironside's detective sergeant.
"Hello chief," Brown said cheerfully. From the look on the chief's face Ed's desire of getting out of here had just diminished.
Dr. Vatter turned to leave the three men alone. "Doctor, please stay," Ironside requested.
Ut oh, Ed thought. The chief has already talked to the doctor.
"What's this I hear about you giving the doctor trouble about your care?"
"What" Ed said, confused.
"He feels you need to stay here for observation and you insist on leaving?" Ironside questioned in a loud boisterous voice.
"I'm fine Chief. I can work," Ed insisted.
"And just when did you get your medical degree, Dr. Brown?" Ironside asked with sarcasm to the delight of Dr. Vatter. "You will be staying here until Dr. Vatter decides that you have not suffered a concussion and releases you. You are then to go home and take it easy the rest of the day. I do not want to see you in the office until tomorrow."
"Chief!" Ed protested.
"That's an order Sergeant," Ironside barked.
Ed gave up. There was no arguing with the chief when he got this way.
Dr. Vatter, satisfied his patient would now follow his direction, left the examining room to attend to other patients.
The chief look at his now depressed detective and soften his voice." It's for your own good, Ed. Now tell me what happened."
"There is not much to tell. I left my apartment. My car was parked in front of the building. When I got to the car door, a car came barreling down the street straight at me. I tried to jump on the hood but did not get completely out of the way when he hit me."
"Then it was a man?" Ironside asked.
"Yes, but I did not have the time to make out his face but I am sure it was a man."
"Did you see the license plate number?"
"Sorry Chief. After he hit me everything went black," Ed said apologetically.
"What about the make and model?" Ironside asked.
"It happened so fast and I did not see him until the last minute. Sorry Chief."
"What about the color of the vehicle," Ironside asked.
Ed shook his head indicating he was of no help there either.
"Ok, if you think of anything, call me at the office."
"I will." Ed watched his boss. Something was wrong. "Is something bothering you chief?" Ed asked.
"I don't think this was a simple hit and run. I think whoever it was deliberately tried to run you down." Ironside proceeded to tell Ed about his conversation with Commissioner Randall.
"Then you think someone is out there with the intention of killing cops?" Ed asked.
"Not intention, Ed. Someone is killing cops. Tomorrow I want you to start investigating Cook and Gates accident. I have a hunch it was not an accident."
Boy, the cops were slow. He had killed four of them and they still had not figured out someone was bumping them off. At least he hoped he had killed Brown. He certainly hit him hard enough. It was too bad Brown saw him at the last minute. He would have no doubt if Brown had not had the time to move. He turned on the television hoping to get some idea of what the cops had pieced together. He was disappointed to discover nothing was reported on the news about Brown or Powers. The other two cops had been reported as an accident.
He had been sure once he took out Ed Brown it would bring Ironside into the investigation. Yet nothing had been reported on the news. Maybe he had not killed Brown after all. He was Ironside's number one boy. Surely, Ironside would have taken over the investigation if Brown were dead. That could only mean one thing. Brown had survived. He picked up the receiver and dialed San Francisco General. After he was greeted by the telephone operator he said, "I am a friend of Ed Brown. I know you can't give out information but I am a cop who works with him and I just want to know that he is alright."
"I am not allowed to give out information but I guess it would be ok this one time. After all, you are a cop. Mr. Brown is going to be just fine."
"That's great. Thank you." He hung up the phone. Damn! He missed. Brown had survived. At least he would have Ironside's attention. He would want to know who hit his sergeant and punish them. If he was lucky, Ironside had heard about the others. He would put two and two together even if no one else in the police department could. Yes, he could be sure he had Ironside's attention. It was imperative he be involved. He had ruined his life. Now he would keep him busy trying to keep his police force alive. This was going to be fun.
Eve continue with her paperwork. She had arrived on time this morning at nine o'clock to an empty office. Mark, the chief and Ed, all three of them had gone somewhere and had not left even a message of where they were going. The chief usually left word as to where he was going. Eve fought the temptation of calling Ironside. He was the boss. He did not have to account for his time to her, even if she did worry about him when she did not know where he was. Lost in thought, she did not hear the door open.
Mark and Chief Ironside came into the office. "Any calls, Eve?" Ironside asked.
"Just one. Carl called. He said he wanted to talk to you about Timothy Powers. He said it was important. Where have you been? I looked all over for some kind of note." It just dawned on her that Ed had not come in with Mark and the Chief. "Where's Ed?"
"In the hospital," Mark said. He headed to the kitchen.
Alarmed, Eve stood up. "Is he alright Chief?"
"Mark, how about some coffee?" Ironside shouted to his aide. "He's fine. They just wanted to keep him for observation."
"What happened to him?" Eve asked with concern.
Ironside brought Eve up to date on the hit and run and the dead officers. Eve listened with concern. "Do you have reason to believe Cook and Gates car was run off the road?"
"Not yet, Eve. But I am betting it wasn't an accident. I am going to have Ed check it out in the morning. Mark! Where's that coffee?" Ironside complained.
Mark walked up to the table with three mugs in one hand and a coffee pot in the other. He poured three cups and placed one in front of Ironside and one in front of Eve.
"What makes you think it wasn't an accident? I heard there were no marks on the side of the patrol car that would indicate being rammed. There was just the blown tire," Eve pointed out.
"That tire could have been shot out from underneath them," Ironside replied.
"If it was don't you think it would have shown up in the investigation immediately? Carl Reese was assigned to investigate, wasn't he?"
Mark frowned. "Why would they assign Carl on what would appear to be a routine accident if they believed that is what it was?"
"That is a very good question. Get Jimmy Smith on the phone for me," Ironside ordered.
Eve reached for the phone. "I would like to speak to Captain Smith. Chief Ironside's office calling…oh, I will tell the chief. Thank you." Eve hung up the phone.
"Well?" Ironside questioned with a look of what are you waiting for on his face.
"Captain Smith is on his way up her right now. He wants to talk to you, it seems."
The door opened and Jimmy Smith walked in and down the ramp. "Hi Chief." He sat down beside Ironside and placed a recorder in front of him.
"What's that for?" Ironside inquired as Mark brought another mug, poured coffee and set it in front of Captain Smith.
"The commissioner told me you were taking over the investigation into the death of the three cops we have lost. I thought I should bring you up to date."
"What did the lab report say?"
Smith pulled a manila folder out of his suit coat and handed it to Ironside. "We were not able to prove that the tire was shot. It had been burned pretty bad in the fire. The only thing it did show was a possible bullet hole here." Smith pointed to a picture of the tire.
"That not very conclusive. A good defense attorney would tear that piece of evidence to hell."
"Right. But I don't think he could this one." Smith pushed the button on the recorder. The sound of the patrol car siren could be heard in the background.
"Patrol car 7 in pursuit of a hit and run driver on Highway 1. Green Chevrolet sudan, license plate RGL203. Request assistance. What was that? He's shooting at us! I'm losing control! Hang on!
The next thing heard on the recording was a crash and an explosion. "I think that is conclusive Chief," Captain Smith said
"The plate number the officer's called in, who did it belong to?" Ironside inquired.
"Stolen from the owner's house about two hours before the crash," Smith replied.
"Do we know who they hit and who called the police?"
"Apparently they hit the patrol car. No one called the police and no one has put in a complaint about a hit and run driver."
"Have we found the vehicle?"
"Yes, immediately. It was parked down the road not far from the crash. It seems whoever did this was planning it. There were tires marks right beside where the car was parked. They belonged to a much larger vehicle. Probably a large pickup truck."
"And we have no witnesses," Ironside said.
"Sorry Chief, not a one." Smith replied.
"Anything else I should know?"
"Yeah, both those officers had two kids each under the age of five."
Anger began rising within Ironside. "I want this guy Jimmy," Ironside said.
"Well, I hope you get him. You add this up with Power's dying in his bathtub and Ed being run down and it adds up to a cop killer," Smith said.
Ironside nodded as Smith got up and left his office. He had a burning in his gut that told him they had not heard the last of this cop killer.