Brenda's hands were still shaking, but not as badly, as she hung up the phone. With an eye still on Stroh she reached into a drawer next to the sink, drew out a towel and handed it to a moaning Rusty. "Wrap it around your leg and twist it tight. It'll stop the bleeding until the ambulance can get here," she said.
Stroh started to speak but she sharply cut him off. "Shut up! I told you I don't want to hear it. I don't want to hear anything you have to say right now."
She eyed the contents of her purse on the floor but made no move toward them until she heard sirens. Then, still with her gun trained on Stroh, she walked over to the items spilled on the floor and picked up her cell phone and wallet and put them into the pockets of her jogging suit.
A patrolman, a paramedic, and an ambulance attendant followed by Sgt. Gabriel entered the room and Brenda told the ambulance attendant "The boy is Rusty Beck. He was stabbed in the leg." Then, "Officer, this man is Phillip Stroh. He is under arrest for assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of attempted murder, attempted rape, assault of a police officer, and breaking and entering. Read him his rights. I want him cuffed immediately, and I want 24 hour surveillance – both inside and outside his hospital room. And he is not allowed any contact with anyone other than LAPD and hospital personnel until he is arraigned. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes, Chief. Perfectly clear."
The rest of her squad arrived and Provenza said "I'll take care of Stroh, Chief. Don't you worry."
As they started to put on booties and gloves, Brenda stopped them saying "This is an officer involved shooting. FID will be taking over. Just make sure Stroh is isolated and guarded. And I'm goin' to have Sgt. Gabriel go with Rusty to the hospital so someone please spell him. Thank you."
The paramedic and ambulance attendant began evaluating Stroh's injuries while Stroh continued to lie there breathing shallowly. When Stroh was finally on a gurney and wheeled out to the waiting ambulance, the rest of Brenda's squad followed. Sanchez stopped in the doorway. "Chief, is there anything you need?"
No, thank you, Detective. I'm fine. Go take care of Stroh. Remember, no contact..." Sanchez nodded and left.
"Rusty, you remember Sgt. Gabriel? He's going to ride with you in the ambulance and will stay with you until I can get there." Sgt. Gabriel nodded his understanding.
As Sgt. Gabriel watched, the ambulance attendant removed the towel from Rusty's leg and gingerly explored his wound. Rusty whimpered "You mean you're not coming with me?"
"No, Rusty, I'm sorry. I can't. I shot someone and there's going to be an investigation here tonight. I have to stay here and give my statement. And you'll have an opportunity to give yours tomorrow after a doctor looks at your leg. Ok?" Rusty nodded and moaned softly as the attendant carefully straightened his leg and began scissoring the leg of his jeans.
At this moment Sharon Raydor arrived and immediately went to Brenda's side. "Chief, are you all right?" she asked, concern in her voice and on her face.
"I think so, yes," Brenda replied. "I was thrown to the floor pretty hard so I'm sure I'm going to be bruised and sore but all this blood belongs to Rusty and Stroh. Just as soon as they're both out of here I'll cooperate in any way you need."
"Good," Capt. Raydor replied while looking intently around the room. Her eyes fell on the bullet holes in Brenda's purse.
Brenda followed Raydor's gaze and explained "Stroh was coming at me with that knife over there on the floor. I didn't have time to take my gun out of my purse."
Capt. Raydor gave Brenda a wry smile. "Stroh should thank his lucky stars you had to shoot through your purse. Otherwise he'd be on a coroner's gurney instead of in an ambulance."
After Stroh and Rusty had departed for the hospital, Brenda and Capt. Raydor sat down at the dining room table while the FID officers milled about the kitchen. Brenda watched black gloved fingers going through her things. They reminded her of spiders. She shivered and looked over at the open laundry room door and asked no one in particular "Where is Joel?"
Captain Raydor returned question for question. "Who is Joel?"
"My cat. He's an indoor cat and doesn't know about the outdoors. And it's dark now." An FID officer replied "There's an orange tabby in the bedroom. Is that the one you're looking for?"
"Yes," Brenda replied turning to Capt. Raydor, "Will you please excuse me for a minute while I put him in his cat carrier?" She didn't wait for an answer before stepping carefully around the blood on the floor. She picked up Joel and buried her face in his soft fur and listened to him purr. It felt so good to snuggle with a living, loving being. Putting him in his cat carrier, she apologized to him, turned and walked carefully back to the dining room table.
An FID officer was reporting to Capt. Raydor. "We didn't find a wallet or cell phone." Capt. Raydor looked questioningly at Brenda but dismissed the officer. "Thank you." Brenda's gaze was steady.
"Chief, where are your wallet and cell phone?"
"I put them in my pocket when I first came home."
"Because I don't know Rusty well enough to trust him and I didn't want them stolen."
"You know we need to collect all the evidence."
"My wallet and cell phone are not evidence. They were not involved in any way so they won't help your investigation. And I need them." Brenda's voice was steady and with a steely edge.
"Look, Captain, my home is a crime scene. I can't stay here tonight. I don't have family here and my husband is out of town. I have to rent a hotel room and I have to be able to pay for it. My husband will be calling me any minute now. You've already bagged the land line and he'll be worried if he calls my cell and I don't answer."
Captain Raydor leaned back in her chair, studied Brenda's face for a minute, let out a sigh, and said "Well, if you say you had them in your pocket the entire time..."
Sharon gave her a knowing look but said nothing. Brenda caught her expression so she hurriedly volunteered to give her statement. Captain Raydor put a tape recorder on the table and Brenda recounted the events of the evening then concluded by saying "I think my keys were in my purse. I assume you'll arrange for someone to pick up my car."
"I haven't completed your suspension paperwork yet and I'm sure I won't get to it for at least three days, so technically you're still entitled to drive it."
"So I can take my keys?"
Capt. Raydor called out to one of the FID officers and asked him to find the keys and give them to Brenda just as the telephone rang. No one moved to remove it from it's plastic evidence bag and answer it. Soon the answering machine turned on. "Hey, honey. I've made some progress today and I'll be home tomorrow afternoon. I hope you're not working too late. I love you."
Brenda turned her gaze from the direction of the answering machine back to Captain Raydor and said "I need to pack some clothes for myself and my husband since we're going to be out of our home for the next few days."
"FID is still working in your closet."
"I don't think he was in my closet."
"You said that you don't know where he was before he dragged Rusty into the kitchen. He might have hidden in the closet."
"Well, he wasn't in my clothes and he wasn't in my dresser drawers. I need to pack a few things. You can watch me if you're afraid I'll take something you need for your investigation."
Capt. Raydor didn't reply and immediately changed the subject. "If Rusty isn't admitted what should we do with him?"
"I can't take him with me to a hotel. We'll have to call DCS and ask for emergency foster care. He won't like it but I don't know what else we can do."
Brenda's cell phone rang. She removed it from her pocket and answered it. "Hi, honey. Yes, I'm home but I couldn't get to the phone when you called. Sharon Raydor is here. We're deciding what to do with Rusty Beck. Ok. Call me when you get in tomorrow. I love you. Bye." She turned back to Sharon who was also on her phone.
"Yes, thank you, Sgt. Gabriel. I'll be sure to tell her. Good night, Sargent." She turned to Brenda. "Rusty is being held overnight. He's unhappy about it but he's been sedated so he's not fighting it. I'll call DCS and arrange for him to be picked up when he's discharged tomorrow."
"Oh, good. Thank you."
"You're welcome, Chief. Now, let me check and see if they're finished with your closet so you can pack some clothes."
"And while you're checking I'm going to call a hotel."
When she was finally in her hotel room, Brenda called Sgt. Gabriel. Rusty was sleeping so she decided to wait until the next day to go to the hospital to check on him. Finally, her duty finished, she allowed herself to break down. After a good long cry, she slept fitfully.