Wednesday October 13th, 3:20 P.M.
Before she could get to him, the shooter yelled something in Spanish and started waving his gun, pointing it in her direction. She pulled her Glock and took aim at the gunman, but there were too many civilians in the way, running toward her as they tried to find cover.
By the time she had a clear shot, the man had an arm around the storeowners neck and was backing into the door of the bodega. She ran over to Eric. “Come on, we have to get you out of the street,” she said, helping him to his feet.
Eric looked her, then at his shoulder. “The son of a bitch shot me,” he said, his speech slurred.
His left shoulder was bleeding badly, blood staining the material around the wound. She struggled to get him behind the sedan, out of the line of fire. Before they reached cover, he lost consciousness, making it more difficult for Kelli to get him to safety. She managed to get him behind the sedan and eased him to the ground.
Panicked at the thought that Eric might die, she grabbed at the two-way on her belt, pulled it off and pressed the talk button. “Central, this is Detective Storm, badge number three zero two zero, requesting an 85 forthwith to my location for a 10-13, officer down. I’m at the corner of Audubon and 170th,” she said, hearing the fear in her own voice.
Eric looked up at her, his eyes barely open. “What happened,” he mumbled
“Lie still, you’ve been shot, but you’re going to make it. I already called for backup and the bus should be here any minute,” she said, trying to reassure him. “This son of a bitch just made a big mistake.”
She peered around the right bumper and focused on the door of the bodega. The shooter was keeping out of sight. The bastard knows we’re here, and he has to know he’s about to have the wrath of the NYPD fall on his head.
Eric moaned and she reached down to check his shoulder. The bleeding looked much worse now, and it was beginning to pool on the asphalt under and around him.
Don’t you even think about dying on me, dammit “Just hold on, Eric, help is coming.” Come on guys. What the fuck is taking so long?
She felt like it had been hours since her radio call to dispatch, but it had really been only minutes. She kept pressure on the wound, hoping he wouldn’t bleed out before EMS arrived. Moments later, three Radio Motor Patrols arrived and while two of the officers hustled civilians out of the way, the third brought his first aid kit over and applied several gauze pads to help stem the blood flow.
“It looks pretty bad,” he said as he pulled more gauze from the bag. “What the hell happened?”
“I don’t exactly know. We stopped because he wanted a soda, and as I was getting out, I heard him shout and then there were two gunshots. Before I really knew what was happening, the perp grabbed the owner and ran back inside that bodega,” she said, pointing toward the corner. “I got him out of the street and back here. I really didn’t want to give the son of a bitch an easy target.”
EMS should be here any minute. You think the shooter is
still in there?”
“Yeah, I’m sure he is,” she said as she picked up her Glock. “You got him?”
The officer nodded. “What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to get this son of a bitch,” she said as she stood and moved around the car and onto the sidewalk.
33rd Precinct Detective Unit
Cummins hung up the phone and looked at her. “Ryder is still in surgery, but they don’t know for how much longer. The nurse said to call back in an hour.”
“I’d like to be there when he gets out of surgery, and I’m sure Cathy would like someone with her.”
“Sure, your report can wait. For now, just give me the abridged version.”
“It was stupid really. We were on our way back here. Eric was driving, said he was thirsty and decided to stop for a soda. He found a spot half a block from the bodega and parked.”
“And where was the suspect?”
“I don’t know. Eric got out before I did and started around the car, headed for the bodega. I was just climbing out when I heard him yell and then there were two shots. I saw the guy, and he saw me. I drew my weapon and took aim, but he grabbed the owner and ducked back inside.”
“And you didn’t return fire?”
“No sir, I couldn’t get a clean shot with all the civilians in the way. I ran over to Eric, got him out of the street and called it in.”
“Okay, just be sure to have your fives on my desk tomorrow morning.”
“Frank, I want to take a crack at this guy, see if I can find out why he shot Eric.”
Frank shifted in his chair. “I’m not sure that’s a good idea. One of the responding officers told me he had to hold you back, said you looked like you were ready to shoot the guy,” he said, shaking his head. “You’re just too close to this, Kelli. Besides, I’ve got Harris and Yablonski getting ready to take him down to the Tombs for booking. This guy is going away for a long time.”
“Come on, Frank. I’ll play nice. I just need to know what this guy was thinking when he shot Eric.”
He took a deep breath and nodded. “It’s against my better judgment, but okay. Use interview room two. And Kelli, I’ll be watching.”
Kelli sat back in the metal chair, staring across the table at Raul Flores. He’s just a kid for Christ’s sake. A strung out kid, but a kid just the same. She leaned forward, crossing her arms on the table. “Okay, Raul. You want to tell me what was going on in that brain of yours when you decided to rob that bodega and shoot my partner?”
Raul stared back at her, his eyes unfocused, a blank look on his face. He slowly shook his head and shrugged. “Don’t know.”
“That’s it? You don’t know. Then tell me this, Raul, what drugs are you on? Are you putting it up your nose, smoking it?” Kelli grabbed his left arm and turned it palm up. “No track marks, so you’re not using needles, at least not in the arms.”
She stood up and walked around behind him. He had an odd smell about him and while she couldn’t place it, the odor was familiar. She leaned in close and whispered in his right ear. “You got family, Raul?”
Raul nodded. “Yeah, I got family. They don’t want me around too much, but my Grams still lets me crash at her house sometimes.”
She placed both hands on the table next to him, leaned in and tilted her head in his direction. “You ever want to see your Grams again, Raul? Tell me why you were robbing that bodega in the middle of the day, why you shot a police officer.”
He looked up at Kelli, tears in the corners of his eyes. “It’s like I told you already, I don’t know why I did it. I just did it, okay?”
Kelli straightened and moved toward the door. “Okay, Raul, you stick to that. When you’re serving twenty-five Upstate, remember I was the one that tried to help you.” She reached for the knob.
Raul sat up straight, arms outstretched. “Wait, don’t go Detective. I’ll tell you whatever you want to know. I might be a fucked up junkie, but it would break my Grams heart if she wasn’t able to see me no more.”
Kelli released the doorknob and turned to face Raul. “Okay, so tell me why you robbed that bodega.” She grabbed a chair, flipped it around and sat down, crossing her arms over the back.
Raul slowly moved closer to the table and leaned in. “I’ll tell you, Detective, but you gotta do somethin’ for me first.”
Kelli looked up at the ceiling, let out a deep sigh and leveled her eyes at him. “Don’t play games, Raul. There’s no dealing. You tell me what I want to know, or I leave. It’s that simple.”
“You don’t get it, Detective. If I talk, I’m as good as dead.”
“If I had been able to get a shot at you today, you’d already be dead. So what’s the big secret, Raul? Quit wasting my time.”
Raul shook his head. “I ain’t talkin’ until you promise me somethin’. You gotta protect my Grams. They find out I talked, I’m dead anyway. But if somethin’ was to happen to Grams…”
“No deals, Raul. Either you tell me what I want to know or I’m walking out that door. When I’m gone, there are no more chances. So, what’s it going to be?”
Raul lowered his head, rubbed the back of his neck and looked back up at Kelli. “Then it’s no deal. Lock me up, it don’t mean shit anyway.”
As soon as she arrived, Kelli spoke to Eric’s surgeon. He told her Eric had been very lucky and the bullet, a .22 caliber, had lodged between the scapula and clavicle, just missing the brachial artery. .She was shocked and relieved at the same time.
Eric was sitting up when Kelli walked into his room, his wife Cathy sat in a chair next to him. He smiled when he saw her. “I think I owe you my life. I’m still a little hazy on what went down today.”
“You don’t owe me anything, Eric. I’m just glad you’re okay. Hi, Cathy. How are you holding up?”
“As well as can be expected,” Cathy replied, half smiling.
Eric looked at his wife. “Come on, sweetheart. I’ve had worse, this was just a scratch compared to that time I…”
“Don’t remind me, it’s bad enough that you’re in here now,” she said and turned away to hide her tears.
Eric shook his head and gave Kelli a pleading look.
“You know, Cathy,” she began, unsure of what to say, “the odds are … .”
“Don’t give me odds. This is the second time he’s been shot, and I couldn’t handle it if he got killed”. Cathy stood and began to pace.
“Kelli walked around to the other side of the bed, approached the agitated woman and put a hand on her shoulder. “I’m sorry, Cathy. Of course you don’t want to hear the odds. There’s nothing that I or anyone else can say to calm your fears. Yes, it’s a risky job, we put our lives on the line every day, and no, it’s not easy”
Cathy looked into Kelli’s eyes, wiping the tears from her own. “You’re the first of Eric’s partners who didn’t treat me like an idiot. Thank you.” She leaned down and kissed Eric on the forehead. “I suppose I should let you two talk police business now.”
Once Cathy had left the room, Kelli turned her attention to Eric. “We got the guy who shot you. Kid was twenty, a drug addict. I didn’t take the time to go over his rap sheet, but I’m guessing it’s a long one.”
“Did you get a chance to talk to him? Why in the hell did he shoot?”
“Yeah, I pulled him out of holding before they took him down to the Tombs, but I couldn’t get shit out of the guy. He refused to talk unless I made him a deal.”
“Tell me you didn’t deal with this punk.”
Kelli shook her head. “It’s like he was afraid of someone. He wouldn’t tell me anything unless I promised to protect his Grandmother.”
“You’re still going back after him, right?
“I figured I’d give him a few days in Rikers, and then maybe he’ll be a little more willing to talk.”
Eric nodded. “Okay, if that’s how you want to play it. I’d still like to know what the fuck he was thinking. Did the Doc tell you they’re going to keep me a day or two for observation? Hell of a way to get time off, right?”
Kelli laughed. “Yeah, but I wouldn’t recommend making a habit of it.”
Home of Kelli Storm
Kelli leaned on her elbows and watched as Kevin poured two more cups of coffee. Of all the bodegas in the Heights, Eric had to go and pick the one getting robbed. If he had just waited until we got back to the Precinct, this wouldn't have happened. I'm just glad it wasn't worse; I don't think I could take losing another partner.
“What you thinking about, Kel?”
She looked up at him and attempted a smile. “Just running things through my head,” she said, taking the cup he offered.
Kevin took a deep breath and moved around to the other side of the table. “You can’t second guess yourself, Kelli. If you do, then you’re no good to your partner, your department, and most of all, to yourself,” he said, lifting her chin up and looking into her eyes.
“I know, I know. It’s just that ….”
“It’s just what? You don’t think you’re strong enough? I remember what happened when you shot that kid. You dropped into a bottle and almost didn’t come out.”
“I know, Kevin. You don’t think I remember that?” She pushed back from the table, stood up and stared at him. “You’re never going to let me forget that, are you? It doesn’t matter to you that I’ve been sober for over five years now, or that I’ve lost two partners.”
Kevin signaled for a time out. “Just hold up. I never said you didn’t remember, or anything about how long you’ve been sober. Hell, a lesser person would still be curled up inside that bottle. All I’m trying to point out to you is that we’ve all got problems, and you can’t deal with them alone.”Kelli relaxed her fist and closed her eyes. “You’re right, Kevin. It’s just everything that’s happened today,” she sighed. “I’m sorry, okay.” She walked over to him, wrapped her arms around his neck and looked into his eyes. “Forgive me?”