“Shades of Justice” Chapter Fifteen

Jack and Dan entered the front door to a small, unattended lobby. Jack said, “Let’s try the elevator first.” They stepped into the waiting elevator car and Jack pushed the button for the top floor. “Our shooter probably took the elevator to his shooting hide. Much faster than the stairs and he would have been carrying his rifle and maybe some other things like binoculars and a small bag of sand for a stable shooting rest. Also, he may have been carrying a toolbox for cover. No one stops a man carrying a toolbox in a building open to the public.”

The elevator stopped at the 7th floor. When the door opened they saw they were in plain view to a floor full of people working in cubicles. Jack stepped out and a woman standing outside her cubicle said, “May I help you?”

Jack said, “We’re with the police.” Dan stepped out, introduced both of them and showed his badge.

The woman looked around hesitantly. Jack said, “We need access to the roof, can you direct us?”

The woman relaxed and said, “My supervisor is out. Can you come back?”

Dan, still holding his badge, said, “No ma’am. Police business does not work like that. We are investigating a crime and need to get up on the roof. Now please show us the way!”

The woman backed up a step and stammered, “Follow me.”

The roof entrance was on the other side of room. The door was locked with a lever on the inside. She opened the door and Dan and Jack went up a short flight of stairs to the roof. Dan looked back and said, “Thank you, ma’am. You don’t need to come up here.”

When the door closed, Jack said, “Well, our shooter did not use this rooftop. But it is a good vantage point to look around.”

The rooftop provided a view of the 7-Eleven across Forbes but the access ruled it out as a shooting site. Dan said, “The next building is a full story taller. Do we go there?”

“You got it. The process of elimination. Think like a sniper. We’re done here, let’s go.”

The next building’s elevator opened on the top floor in a deserted hallway opposite a door leading to a short flight of stairs to the roof. “This looks much better,” Jack nodded. At the top of the stairs, they were confronted with a locked door. Jack tried the door and bent down to examine the key entrance in the dead bolt lock. After a minute he said, “I believe this lock has been repeatedly picked. The picker was good but you can see tell-tale small scratches.”

“Want me to go look for someone with a key?”

“No. Just give me a minute.” Jack pulled a few picks from his pocket and had the door open in 20 seconds.

“A man of many skills. You’ve been running with bad company,” Dan said, not smiling.

“No. My wife was with the CIA for some years and she taught me some of her skills.”

Jack walked out on the roof and over to the side facing Forbes Street. “This is perfect. Let me look around a little more. I am almost sure this is the sniper’s shooting spot.”

Jack looked around, assumed a shooting position behind the low wall bordering the roof and said, “In fact, I know he was here and took his shot from this exact spot.”

“Jack, I know you’re a good, very good, detective but where is the evidence?”

“Look right here,” Jack said, pointing to the top of the low wall.

“Jack, I don’t see anything.”

“Focus on the top of the ledge. See those particles of sand? They’re from the sand bag the shooter used to steady his rifle. On the roof where he was kneeling is a slight indentation made by his left knee. And more sand particles. I think his bag was worn and leaking sand.

“Let’s get a crime scene team up here and enough detectives to question people in this building and other buildings near here. Make sure the crime scene team bags the sand and photographs the knee print. Given the temperature of the roof at the time of shooting, the forensic guys may be able to estimate a weight and height from his shooting position. He also had to case the place just like we did. He may even have found himself in that building where the elevator opens into all those cubicles on the 7th floor. He also had to have a car or truck on the street near here. If my hunch is right it, would be a truck to fit with his working man’s uniform. He would also have been carrying a toolbox large enough for a broken down .22 Hornet. He may have gone into the 7-Eleven where John was shot to check things out. We need to look at all camera footage from the nearby buildings for the period one-hour before the shooting and ten minutes after. Could be any age and male or female. I know you will be told everything has been done. I think you can see it hasn’t been. Captain Shorer will back you. We need witnesses that can give a police artist enough to get a likeness of the shooter.”

“Okay. I am on it.”

“Let me know if you get anything.” Jack turned and walked back toward the access door.

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“Shades of Justice” Chapter Fourteen

Jack left Howie’s office and hurried to meet detective Dan Reilly at the site of the sniper attack on the patrolmen. Dan was the father of John Reilly who was shot twice at the 7-Eleven near Forbes Street. Dan was standing on the curb when Jack got out of the taxi. Jack hugged his friend from days on the homicide unit. “Dan, I’m really sorry. How is John doing?”

“He’s doing pretty well. It wasn’t life-threatening. Made a mess out of his face and the hit in his arm caused some nerve damage. No one knows whether the nerves will be restored or how much of a recovery can be expected. He’s a tough kid with a positive attitude. I do want to catch the son-of-a-bitch who did this. Thank you for helping. Nobody on the force has your experience in sniper hunting.”

“What have they come up with so far? I have a report from Captain Shorer but just want to be sure it’s complete.”

“The ballistics guys are sure it was a .22 Hornet long rifle, hollow point. No dispute there. Where the shot came from, the shooter’s intentions, why at this spot, and did he try to hit both officers? Those issues are in dispute. We had people on the scene quickly but no one saw anything. My question is did they question people in the right place and ask the right questions? You know anyone shoots a cop, everyone thinks they have the answer. The captain is maintaining command on this crime. I don’t know how long he will keep it. His papers go in soon.”

“Can you show me where John was standing when he got hit?”

“Sure.” Dan took a few steps toward Forbes Street, stopped at a parked car and took the position like his son did leaning against his squad car. “Right like this. His partner agreed and the lab guys support John was standing on this spot against his car.”

“What do you know about the second shot? Interval between shots, where did it hit, and where were John and his partner when the second and last shot was fired?”

“When John was hit, his partner was on his right side and a little in front of him. When he saw John was hit he grabbed him and pulled him down and toward him. That’s when the second shot hit John high on the left arm.”

Jack said, “Stay there,” and walked over to stand where he thought John’s partner would have been when the shooting started. Jack said, “Now you’ve been hit. I pull you like this, right?”

“Yeah, that’s right.”

“I’m pretty sure our sniper meant to hit both officers. The shots must have been about three to five seconds apart. Of course there may have been more but no evidence. So let’s assume there were only two rounds fired. In trying to save John, his partner inadvertently pulled John between himself and the shooter. That second shot was meant for the partner. The choice of a weapon must have been because the shooter knew he could get close and the sound wouldn’t be so loud. If so, it means that the shooter spent time casing the scene and found a sniper hide that he liked. Easy to get to and easy out. He would be wearing what would blend in at the time of the shooting. If you’re ready, let’s go find the shooting site.”

Jack led the way across Forbes and up Wood Street. Dan asked, “Why are we going up Wood Street?”

“My sniper sniffer tells me this is the way to go. From what you told me the shooter had to be in a 45-degree quadrant starting at the spot where John was hit. The second shot got my attention. The direction had to be this way. I also ruled out the possibility there could have been two shooters. Both shots came from the same angle. Two shooters would not have occupied the same spot. We won’t go more than 100 yards up Wood Street. By the time we crossed Forbes we had already gone 50 yards. I don’t think a serious shooter would use a .22 Hornet much beyond 150 yards. He was not target shooting. He knew he had to hit his target the first time. No option to move and try again. These buildings all look occupied. I doubt he would have rented space with a line of sight to his target. Too much exposure. So he must have been on a rooftop. The wounds indicated the trajectory was high to low. So that’s why we are walking up Wood Street.”

“I’ll be damned, you got all that from ten minutes at the crime scene?”

“No. From trial and error of hunting snipers. All have their own M.O. We don’t know this shooter’s yet. We’re looking for a shooting site on the left side of Wood Street because that gave him the best angle. We are going in this building and up to the roof. It is high enough to see the target area. You may have to use your badge.”

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“Shades of Justice” Chapter Thirteen

9 AM Wednesday, June 4th

The next morning, Jack called a taxi and rode to Wilkinsburg, a nearby suburb of Pittsburgh, to see Howie Miller about using his investigative agency. Howie was waiting for Jack and offered him a steaming china cup of dark French roast. Jack looked at the cup and said, “Howie, is this the cup you use to impress clients? Well, I’m impressed. Give me a minute to commune with this cup and its contents and I’ll tell you why I’m here, taking up your time.” Jack drank some coffee. He thought over his opening and said, “An organized gang of kidnappers has been picking young women off the streets of major cities and selling them to clients in the Middle East and Far East. The police are working on it. But with the crimes taking place in almost random areas and with the police reluctant to commit major resources to finding young women of age who are reported missing, they don’t have much to show. To make it worse, the missing girls are often in major universities or employed in large urban areas where no one even reports them missing for days. I represent a number of the families who want to remain anonymous. They have asked me to do a private search for them. Their interest is to get their daughters home again. No interest in court or legal proceedings. The information I’ll share with you, if you decide to take the case, would not hold up in court. I’ll personally vouch for its authenticity. Are you interested?”

“How many investigators do you want me to use?”

“All you have and can get. They have to be willing to travel.”

“Jack, you’re asking me to shut all my cases down. I can’t do that.”

“How much do you charge an hour or day for your people on the job? I assume no one gets paid unless they are working on a contracted job.”

“Right. Nobody gets paid that I am not charging time and expenses to a client. My top guys get $500 a day and expenses. The others get $250.”

“I’ll triple the rate.”

“What! $1,500 per day for my top guys?”

‘“Yes, and a $50,000 bonus for you to manage the show and to be personally on call. Report only to me. No official interaction. No press and no credit for solving a major crime. No telling spouses or lovers or bar talk. A talking out-of-school investigator is out of your agency. Not just pulled off my job. Okay?

“Jesus! Jack, where is all the money coming from?”

“Not to worry. I’ll give you $25,000 cash to get started. If you need more let me know. And our arrangement details stop with you. You start as soon as I leave. What say?”

“I can’t turn it down. I know some serious shit is involved here but I trust you to protect me.”

“I have your back. Just like old times. Do we have a deal? No paper, just a handshake.”

Howie reached across the desk and took Jack’s offered hand. In the next hour, Jack gave Howie the leads he got from Walid and how he wanted Howie’s people to proceed. Jack made it clear that the people were dangerous and wouldn’t hesitate to kill. They were street smart but not pros. Probably had no training.

As he finished his briefing and handed Howie the data and photos, he said, “Just so we’re on the same page, there may be some rough stuff later, but for now it is strictly surveillance with photos and reports. You know the drill. Photos and data on everyone these four people meet. Error on the side of discretion. Don’t spook the targets. You and I will decide if we need to pick up the pressure.”

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“Shades of Justice” Chapter Twelve

By the time the panel truck was thoroughly wiped down with Clorox and ready for Kathy to return in the morning, it was after midnight. Jack asked Kelly to come back to the hotel to go over their activities and make plans for the next phase. While Jack was walking Shadow, Kathy made Kelly and herself a tall gin and tonic. They clinked glasses and Kelly said, “It seemed simple, but it wasn’t, was it?”

“No. Far from it. I’ve seen many operations in my time in the CIA. Jack can do more with fewer people than anyone I ever met or heard about. He has a gift of seeing the entire operation in several versions in his head while he is separating the operation into steps that can be easily briefed and followed. If something in one of the steps changes, he has a workable option ready to go.”

“How unusual is it for someone to be grabbed off the street, interrogated, made to cooperate and leave in a non-hostile state with a plan to recontact us all in one hour?”

“Just about never.”

“I still don’t understand how he made that work.”

“Jack was ready for it not to work. As it looked possible, he was planning as he was interrogating. Once he convinced Walid that he didn’t care if he died or not, Jack knew he had him. He started assessing Walid when he put him in the neck hold that put him out. He knew from then Walid wasn’t a pro, probably had no training, and was a weak person. So he began to plan to make him be a ‘willing’ informant. You notice how he convinced Walid that he, Jack, knew all about him and knew the answer to some of the interrogation questions. Examine the contact plan he gave Walid. There was no doubt that Walid knew the contact location. Having him stay in the car allows us the time to look for any kind of an ambush. If we see something we don’t like, we use the cell phone to direct him to another site. On the way to the next contact point we’ll do a thorough counter-surveillance check. If he’s clean we meet him. If not he gets no second chance.”

“Kathy, how will I ever learn all this?” Kelly sighed.

“Just like this, little sister. You have good instincts, at least as good as mine. Jack’s are off the chart and he never turns them off. That’s why I feel safe with him, even with all our enemies. And don’t forget your DNA. Your mother was one of the best ever. She could shoot better than Jack. Her operational skills weren’t as good. She didn’t have Jack’s intricate planning abilities. But, if you’re half as good as your mother, you’ll be better than 95 percent of the people in this business. Watch Jack, ask questions when you can, and learn to compartment your thinking process, don’t ask me how. Just work on it.”

After a pause, Kathy said, “Jack will be here in a few minutes. It will be late before we are through. I want you to stay here tonight. You are now involved with some very bad people who know you and where you live. We have to do something about that. Living alone in a known place puts you in unnecessary danger. Not a good idea. And since you’re staying, you can have another gin and tonic.”

“Okay. Some of these rooms are bigger than my apartment. I can put up with it for one night.” Kelly smiled and finished her drink.

Jack and Shadow came in. “Did I just hear someone say they were staying over night? That’s good because for a while we shouldn’t make a practice of being alone.”

Kelly couldn’t answer Jack because Shadow was so happy to see her that he was trying to get in the overstuffed chair with her. Jack said, “You are a special person. He never pays that much attention to anyone but Kathy or me.

“When he settles down, we can get on with some serious stuff.”

“He’s okay,” Kathy said, scratching the dog’s head. “He’s just bored. No action and long periods wandering around this suite.”

Jack said, “Okay. Everyone, including you Shadow, come and sit or lay around the dining table.”

Everyone settled in and Jack started. “Kelly, tough times are ahead. I know you have been there and done that but this will be a bit different. Here we may end up the hunted as well as the hunters,” he paused to let that thought sink in. “The worse problem first, I believe within the next few months we will lose our inside influence with the police and the CIA. There will be no one looking out for us. The link with the police will be finished within 60 to 90 days. Probably the CIA link is already gone with the posting of Sam Richfield to Tokyo. He is no longer in a position to give us any advanced warning. In the eyes of most law and order officers and intelligence folk we are outside the law. No matter how effective we have been, we are breaking the law and are big-time criminals, murderers, kidnappers, extortionists, torturers, have weapons violations, surveillance without warrants, breaking and entering, wire taping, arson, use of aliases … need I go on?”

“How many managers or street cops would pass up a chance to bring us in? It would be a career-making bust,” Kathy said.

“You’re scaring me.” Kelly looked back and forth at Jack and Kathy, her eyes wide.

“Good,” Jack said. “It will take all our skills and discipline to stay out of serious jail time.”

“What can we do?”

Kathy said, “Simple. Don’t get caught. For example, this is the last time we will all be together in public. Cops showing your picture to the hotel staff would be the starting point. So while we need to operate together, we must be very careful about the wrong people seeing us together. That’s step one. The next one is to be ready to drop out of sight. That means sets of alias documentation that will stand up to at least a first level of checking. We cannot fake fingerprints and DNA. We need transportation bought and prepositioned. Maybe even airplanes. Also passports if we have to leave the country and places arranged around the world where we can live safely. Same for here. I want at least three places bought under different identities or by some organization or company. Shadow is a problem. We can’t hide him and he’s not going to be left anywhere, so if people are looking for anyone traveling with a black Bouvier, we defeat that by having more than one. Maybe even owning a kennel of Bouviers and giant schnauzers. We start getting ready tomorrow.”

Jack said, “Kathy, take Kelly to this address. The man who answers the door is a master forger. He knows me and works for us. My father found him and bought his loyalty years ago. He gets a nice check every year. Tell him what we all need. Give him 30 days for the essentials and 60 days for the nice-to-have documents. We need to be able to travel to Canada and not as tourists. Same with Mexico. He needs no real names. He may already know my father’s but don’t tell him any more than necessary. Tell him these documents have to be used to buy property and businesses outside the U.S. Concentrate on getting Mexico and Canada on the must-have-soon list.

“Tomorrow morning I’m meeting with an old friend who runs an investigative agency of former detectives and cops. I’m asking them to find and follow the people Walid identified tonight. I may buy the agency. I need to think on it a bit more. Okay, on those thoughts, happy dreams. I’m going to bed.”

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“Shades of Justice” Chapter Eleven

9 AM Wednesday, June 4th

While Jack and his team were beginning to make their way up the kidnappers’ chain, Sally McGovern was gaining awareness of her situation. She awoke slowly over several hours. Her first awareness was of movement, movement she knew was not new to her. In a few more minutes, she thought, I’m on a boat. How did I get here? When she tried to get up, she couldn’t move. An awareness came that her arms and legs were tied down and there was a strap across her middle. Her vision slowly returned and she could make out the details of a small stateroom. Her right arm just below the elbow hurt. Looking up, she saw a bag of fluid dripping down an IV line into her arm. She was covered with a sheet and light blanket. Under it she was naked. I must be in a hospital. But it can’t be, this is a boat. I can feel the engine vibration and hear engine noise. It feels like we are running at least 18 knots in choppy water. Sally was an experienced cruiser and could relate to the sounds and motions. Gradually, she remembered two men grabbing her and the stinging sensation in her arm. My God, I’ve been kidnapped. I feel woozy. Someone is feeding me through an IV and, from the way I feel, drugs as well. I’m so thirsty. Might as well call out, I need water. And I need to play dumb. Don’t let these thugs find out how tough I am. If no one else is looking, I’m sure Kelly is. If she finds me, these people are going to be sorry.

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“Shades of Justice” Chapter Ten

An hour later, Walid had told Jack everything he knew about his team of watchers. He gave up their names, that they were all Pakistanis, their addresses, cell phone numbers, procedures, and the name of the team member who passed on the requirements. He got paid $1,000 and expenses each month. He didn’t know where the orders came from and Jack believed him. The last thing he gave them was the names of two young women they were now surveilling. Walid knew the young women were to be sold but he didn’t know where or how they were moved. He also looked blank when Jack asked him about the sniper.

Jack stared at Walid when he was through asking questions. He said, “Walid, I’m deciding whether we should kill you. I don’t want to. But how can I trust you? If you tell your team about tonight, they will kill you for sure. If I let you live and you betray my trust, I will either kill you myself or tell the police to brief the local newspapers about your cooperation. So what should I do?”

Walid, trying to hold back tears, said, “You can trust me. I have never been so frightened. I will leave this group and go to another city.”

Jack said, “No! They will find you. You must stay here and act as if nothing happened. When Alice Clay calls your cell, do not answer. The call from her means you must go to the Starbucks on Craig Street at 11:30 AM and park as near as you can to the place you parked today. Wait in your car with your cell phone turned on. Do you understand?”

Walid nodded. “I understand.”

“Good. If it is impossible to follow these instructions, go there the next day for sure. No second chances. I know you are taking chances. Here is an envelope with $2,000. If you follow instructions and work well, there will be more and I will protect you from the police. But do not fail me. We will drop you near your apartment. I’m going to put this bag over your head. I will help you out of the vehicle to the curb. You sit down there and count to 100 before taking the bag off.”

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“Shades of Justice” Chapter Nine

Kathy’s only worry was that there may be more than one person living in the same apartment. If there were, Jack would be beside her in seconds and take care of the problem. She looked through the door window. Saw nothing except staircase. She rang the bell and heard it faintly through the door. A staircase overhead light came on and she heard descending footsteps. A face looked out. Good, it’s the same person, she thought. She motioned for him to open the door. He hesitated for a moment then opened the door and said, “What do want?”

“I’m sorry but I scraped a blue Ford Taurus and wonder if you know who owns it. No one else is around and I’m in a hurry to find the owner so I can pay for the damages. You know how it is with insurance companies. They charge…..”

“Lady, stop for a minute. Did you say you hit a blue Ford?”

“Yes, but I’m trying…..”

“Shit! Never mind. Show me the damage.”

“No need to get angry. I’ll pay.”

“You’re damn right you will.”

With the suspect walking beside her, Kathy led the way back to the traffic side of the blue Ford. As they came around the trunk and Kathy pointed to the front door, Jack slipped up behind and put a two-arm neck lock on the suspect, lifting him a few inches off the ground. The neck lock cut off blood flow to the brain from both carotids and in less than 20 seconds the man collapsed. Jack lifted him and put him in the back of the truck and closed the door. Kelly secured his arms and legs with duct tape and put a piece over his mouth. Kelly went to her car and drove off with the panel truck right behind.

Several blocks away, she pulled into a parking spot and got in the panel truck. She went into the back with Jack as Kathy drove off. The prisoner was awake and struggling. Jack hadn’t said a word. He nodded at Kelly, leaned over and spoke through the bag into the prisoner’s ear.

“We know who you are and what you’ve done. We’re not the police and don’t see much of a reason why we shouldn’t kill you now. If you help us you can live, otherwise don’t waste our time. We’ll just find someone else from your band of kidnappers to help us. Now I’m going to take the bag off your head and the tape off your mouth. I’ll give you a chance to live. Scream and it will be the last sound you ever make. Nod if you understand me.”

The prisoner nodded several times. Jack had gone through the man’s wallet and knew the name he was using was Walid Kassem. Jack took off the bag and tore off the duct tape. Walid choked and gagged. Kelly handed Jack a bottle of water and he gave Walid a drink.

Jack said, “Walid Kassem. Yes, I know your name and that your car is stolen, as well as the license plates, and you are part of the kidnapping gang that kidnapped a young woman yesterday. I hope you’re smart enough to know letting you see my face means if you don’t work with me and answer every question you will be dead by drowning in the next ten minutes. Now, think hard and tell me if you are willing to cooperate. Talk now!”

Walid rolled his eyes try to see who else was there. Kelly was back in the shadows and Jack was shining a flashlight in his eyes. Walid tensed against the tape constraints and said, “I am not telling you anything.”

Jack leaned down, taped his mouth and eyes, tied his legs up in a 45-degree angle to the overhead supports in the roof of the truck, and secured his body using the cargo straps in the truck. Kelly handed Jack a towel and a half-gallon bottle of water. Jack put the towel over Walid’s face and without saying a word began slowly pouring water on the towel. Walid began to struggle. With his mouth taped, the sensation of drowning was more pronounced. A few seconds after the struggles stopped, Jack removed the towel. He made no move to help him breathe. Jack took the tape off his mouth and Walid began to gag. When he began to breathe Jack leaned over and whispered, “Walid, are you ready to help me?”

“What do you want?” he managed to sputter.

“Wrong answer.” Jack taped his mouth, put the towel on a struggling, moaning Walid, and began pouring water on the towel. The thrashing redoubled. In 90 seconds, the movement stopped. Jack removed the towel and tape. Slowly, Walid began to breathe. Again Jack whispered in his ear, “Walid, are you ready to help me? I don’t think you’ll live through the next towel session.”

Walid rasped out, “Yes! Please stop! Please! I’ll help.”

“Listen Walid, this is your last chance. So you had better not hold anything from me. And no lies. You see, I already know some of the answers. How do think we found you? The last one died. He told me some things but then stopped talking. You can see I had no choice. Don’t make the same mistake.”

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