The call came in at 2:33 AM. Two vice officers were down. Homicide was called in to help with the case. Michael’s crew had been first choice, and he accepted with much trepidation.
He hated early morning calls. They tended to be less than ideal. Either there had been a failed bust, or they were merely two crooked cops who had been on the take. Yet this one was different.
These two were part of a stake-out. They had been shot in their patrol car, out in the open, and had no stake in the case other than it had been their job. Neither had been on the force long enough to establish themselves. On the surface, it looked as if they had been shot by the subject of the stake-out.
But that didn’t make sense either. The suspect being watched had not been seen in days. He had gone into his home, but had not come out since. Something was wrong.
“Dis don’ add up,” Justin was saying, “De suspect ain’t been seen fo’ days. Even de other officers admit that. And dis, though in plain sight, was not the subject’s way of doing t’ings. He preferred swift an’ silent. Secret an’ not in de open. Dis was loud an’ not very secret.”
Michael looked at Justin. “Should we go in?”
“We need t’ be careful,” Justin replied, “No tellin’ what is goin’ on in dere.”
Michael looked down. His options were few. “Then we go in. Carefully.” He looked over at his officers. “Reilly. Danforth. Take the back. Marcel and I will take front.” He looked at the head of the vice team. “Get your men back.”
The head of vice nodded and pulled his men back. Michael looked at Justin. “Ready?”
“Non,” Justin admitted, “But we have a job t’ do. Let’s go.”
As they approached the house, Reilly split off and went to the right. Danforth went to the left. Michael noticed that all lights were off. No movement registered from within.
Something was definitely wrong. Justin stood to the left of the door and knocked. “Police.”
“Be careful!” Came the admonishment from within, “They have booby-trapped my home with explosives! I can’t move or we will all go up!”
“Is the door booby-trapped?” Michael inquired.
“No,” came the reply, “not to my knowledge. I mean, they left through it after tying me up and setting the explosives.”
“Is the door unlocked?” Michael pressed.
“No,” came the reply, “but there is a key under the doormat. Use it. Help me!”
Michael stooped and felt under the doormat. Producing the key, he unlocked the door. Turning the knob, he swung the door open cautiously. Before entering, he took out his cell phone and dialed the chief.
“Chief,” he began, “Send Brownell’s squad. We have a possible explosive situation.. No. Brownell. He is the only one I trust.”
He hung up and turned to Justin. He smiled grimly.
“What now?” The Cajun inquired.
Michael peered into the darkened house. “Is it alright if we turn on the light? Or are they rigged?”
“I am pretty sure they are not,” came the reply, “they were on when the rest of the house was rigged. Tell anyone at the back not to enter from that direction. I do know that door is rigged.”
He flipped on the light, then turned to Justin. “Go tell Reilly and Danforth to come back to the front.”
Justin nodded and disappeared. Michael turned his attention to the man sitting on the chair in the center of the room. A vest was wired with explosives, as was the chair itself.
“I would get up and shake your hand, but I am afraid that would be the end of us both,” the man stated, trying to lighten the mood, but nervousness creeping in to remove any humor.
“You must’ve made someone very mad,” Michael responded, “in order to make them wire you with this much explosives. they didn’t intend you to live through the experience.”
The man nodded. “I only know two of the men. I will not say who they are until I am assured protection. Federal protection.”
Michael nodded. “And I cannot promise you that. I can, however, promise that the man I requested for disarming this place is the best in the city. He’ll have you out in no time.” Brownell stepped into the room and Michael went over to him. “Can you tell who did this?”
Brownell nodded. “Torkelsen. One of those we had to let go of three years ago. He was involved in internal extortion and sexual assaults. It was a private disciplinary action. We were doing the investigation on him and two others. When they caught wind of it, they quit.
“He was a demolitions expert in the military. Came with wonderful credentials and referrals. Possibly a little too good. An excellent hand at disarming explosives, but not very social. Thought our female members were there for his amusement.”
“Can you disarm this?” Michael asked with urgency.
“Yes,” Brownell replied, “but I will have to start under the chair first and trace all lines that way.”
“Then,” Michael observed, “I will let you get to it.”
What took an hour seemed to take an eternity. Yet, as promised, Brownell had the poor man out of the vest-bomb and off the chair. All present vacated the house and the man was taken into custody by Reilly and Danforth and escorted to the police station for his own protection. Michael and Brownell stood talking when the house exploded, knocking them both to the ground.
“The rest must’ve been on a timer,” Brownell replied, “I guess that solves the dilemma of sending anyone in to disarm the rest of the explosives.”
Michael nodded. “Just glad no one was inside when they went off.”
Brownell grinned. “I agree. I was just getting ready to assign someone to go in. Not now. Too late for that now.”
Michael looked at the burning house. “You’re right, there. Now it is up to the utilities and the fire department.”