27 July 2006

Conversation in SCPD booking area, July 2006.
Charge: Trespassing

KRUPKE: Have you been drinking today?
SUSPECT: Yeah, I had - you know those jugs of pre-mixed Malibu rum?
KRUPKE: How long ago was that?
SUSPECT: (thinks) I guess I started around ten...
KRUPKE: Ten a.m.?
KRUPKE: When did you stop?
SUSPECT: I don't - next thing I remember, I was surrounded by cops...

Ofc. Krupke at 1:40 PM
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05 July 2006

Working extended shifts this month, today I found myself running low on gas two hours into my tour. My supervisor gave his blessing for me to leave Devil's Island, strike out on the interstate, and go back to the SCPD's fuel pumps. As I was heading toward the Southern City interchange, I saw an Industrial City PD cruiser pulled over on the right shoulder with his blue lights flashing. As a small matter of professional courtesy, I steered my car behind his, activated my lights, preparing to get out and find out if he needed help with anything.

While putting the USS Krupke in Park, I noticed that the rear windshield of the ICPD car was shattered, with a large chunk of its glass gone. Through the unshattered part I could see the back of a head in the driver's seat. The person it belonged to appeared to be alive and speaking. Still, when I got out and approached, I moved in at a jog, and found that my hand went to the grip of my gun. As I passed between the ICPD car and the retaining wall of the interstate, I glimpsed an older female prisoner in the back of the car. The ICPD officer was in the front seat, talking on his radio handset. I felt a small bit of relief. Probably a piece of road debris, I reasoned, had been thrown up in traffic, damaging the car, and he was reporting it. Embarrassing, perhaps, but not that serious. I rapped on the window with my knuckle, and he rolled it down.

"Somebody just shot at me!" he said abruptly. His voice had tones both of adrenaline and annoyance.

"Are you OK?"

"Yeah. I mean, I guess so." He briefly looked down as if to examine himself for bullet holes or arterial spray on the steering wheel. He then indicated the woman in the cage behind him. "She says she's OK, too."

"When did this happen?"

"I don't know. It just happened. Like, thirty seconds ago."

I started looking around, going into a slight crouch in the narrow channel between concrete and door panel. I'm not sure why - the stretch of I-666 we were on was elevated, and I couldn't see any vantage point from which someone might have fired from, or be preparing to fire from again. I hadn't thought quite that urgently about lines of sight and fields of fire since I'd left the Marines. A siren behind us announced the arrival of the first ICPD backup. A worried-looking officer bailed out of the car and started running towards us. I gave him a thumbs-up, and he nodded in relief.

The shot-at officer, a stocky guy I'll call Mason, got out of the car as more and more cruisers pulled up. His buddy grabbed him and asked him the same dumb questions I had. Others positioned their cars to block the lane, while Mason started telling the story.

The woman in the back, it turned out, was not a prisoner at all. She was just some poor little old lady that Mason had agreed to transport to the hospital because she was worried she was having a nervous breakdown. One is fairly certain this whole little episode hadn't helped. Mason wasn't sure where the shot had come from, exactly, but the most likely explanation was that it had come from another car on the roadway. He remembered a truck passing him, and then hearing the shot and the smashing glass.

One of the other cops suggested that maybe it hadn't been a gunshot; apparently there had been reports of kids lurking by the interstate and throwing sundry projectiles at passing cars. Mason insisted, with no small irritation, that he had heard the shot. That ended the inquiry, and the ICPD guys set about dealing with the scene. Supervisors were called, more cruisers arrived, and I imagine various brass were leaping on the radio in order to make themselves heard. I told what little I knew. Mason lit a cigarette, placed both his hands on the concrete wall, and leaned forward, breathing deeply.

I explained how I had happened on all this, and as they didn't need anything more from me, I told Mason I was glad he was okay, and he thanked me for stopping. "I hope the rest of your day is better than this," I said lamely, and got back on the road.

You just never know. It doesn't matter where you are, or what you're doing, you never know.

I was pulling into SCPD HQ when an unsettling bit of math occurred to me. A half mile or so before seeing Mason's car, I had pulled off the road to check on a disabled car. It was a brief stop, just enough to verify that she was okay and getting ready to drive on. Mason had said the shot was fired thirty seconds before I got there. Had it not been for my brief delay, I would have been about another thirty seconds down the road, placing me square in the area where it had happened.

If this was some nut with a yen to shoot at a cop, any cop, well...

You just never know.