When Commissioner Reagan turned around to introduce the Queens' Chief of Police, his breath was suddenly snatched away and his speech stopped mid-sentence. He heard no shot, no sound. He just felt a sudden, excruciating pain erupt in his chest and found himself struggling to breathe. The startling impact sent him staggering backwards. Detective Baker immediately turned towards him, wondering why he had stopped and witnessed him falter. His bodyguard, Karl's, instincts were well-honed and he was the quickest to react, but by the time he reached the Commissioner, he was already sinking to the ground.
"Get down! Shooter!" Karl yelled while waving his arms to try and warn others. He recognised instantly what was happening and tried to spur his security counterparts into action.
As he rushed to the Commissioner, he saw Hammond, the Queens' Chief of Police, go down also. He bravely positioned his body between that of the Commissioner and the press because even though he could hear no shots, his experience told him that there was more than likely a gunman using a silencer in the crowd or in the buildings across the street. Sadly, this was to be his final act of heroism. He never knew what hit him as another silenced bullet meant for the Commissioner found the base of his skull. He suddenly slumped forward onto the ground beside the Commissioner, mortally wounded. When witnesses saw the blood spatter as Karl was shot, only then did they realise what was happening. Instinctively, those standing on the podium hit the ground in multiple acts of self-preservation. The onlookers and many of the press corps began to scatter. Detective Baker, however, stood up tall, her weapon trained on the fleeing crowd, attempting to identify where the shots had come from. There were one or two fearless news cameramen still filming, straining like vultures to get priceless footage of the injured Commissioner and his obviously deceased bodyguard. Baker desperately wanted to stop them out of respect for her colleagues, but she had more pressing things to worry about. Scanning the crowd, she couldn't identify the culprit. She shouted at uniformed officers to stop the crowd from leaving but knew it was a futile endeavour.
She holstered her weapon and turned her attention to the Commissioner as other officers rushed to the aid of Chief Hammond and Karl. Reagan was laying on his back, obviously struggling for air, his eyes wide open and brimming with terror. Breathing hard and adrenaline pumping, Baker knelt beside her boss and quickly opened his coat and ripped open his shirt and tie, expecting to see the bullet lodged in his ballistics vest. However, the sight of a hole through the vest horrified her. Blood was already forming a crescent as it seeped through. She hadn't expected to see blood.
"No, no…..damn it, no!" she cursed loudly as she pulled at the Velcro straps to try and remove the vest so she could tend to the wound beneath.
"The ambulance is on its way, Commissioner," she said, trying to reassure him.
Lieutenant Chalmers knelt down beside his Commissioner to see if he could help. He and Baker exchanged glances, sensing that the injury to their superior was grave. Neither could believe what had happened. Frank's eyes were filled with agony and something Baker had never seen him show before, fear. Having initially struggled to remove the vest, she finally managed to get it off him with a little help from Chalmers. They could now see clearly the extensive bleeding which already soaked the t-shirt he wore beneath his vest. Baker pressed firmly on the wound, forcing a groan from the injured man.
"Just hold on, Sir," she begged, as she continued to apply pressure to the wound on the left hand side of his chest.
Reagan suddenly began to cough and gag, spraying Baker's jacket with blood. Baker didn't flinch but knew she had to do something to keep him from drowning in his own blood. Chalmers helped her roll the Commissioner's considerable bulk onto his side, hoping that it would keep his uninjured lung clear and ease his breathing. All the while, Frank was slowly losing his grip on consciousness. As he rolled onto his side, his gaze met the vacant stare of his friend, Karl, who lay dead just feet away from him. Sadly, that disturbing image was the last sight he saw before the darkness claimed him and his pain vanished.
"Stay with me, Frank, come on, stay with me," Baker pleaded, using his Christian name for probably the first time since they'd met, all the while attempting to keep pressure on his wound.
Frank's eyes rolled in his head as he was wrenched from consciousness. Seeing this, Baker panicked slightly, fumbling to check his pulse with her bloodied fingers and was greatly relieved when she felt it, weak and all as it was.
Baker vocalised her thanks to the Lord when she heard the unmistakable sound of sirens as a procession of ambulances approached the scene. Looking around, she noticed that the majority of the crowd had now cleared and the only people in the immediate vicinity were police officers, a number of people, some of whom appeared to be injured and some die-hard reporters hoping to get the jump on the other networks.
The fleet of ambulances pulled up on the street and paramedics raced to tend to the victims. Baker stood up and gesticulated frantically to attract paramedics over towards them. One paramedic rushed over to them and immediately began treating the Commissioner. Another of his colleagues checked Karl for a pulse but could tell from his horrific head injury that he was already dead. He turned his attention to Hammond, who was conscious but in obvious pain. Baker stepped back and watched helplessly as the medic worked furiously on her boss. She started to feel a little shaky as the adrenaline began to dissipate and shock set in. Taking deep breaths, she tried to control her breathing. It didn't seem to be working and she swayed where she stood. Lieutenant Chalmers noticed and caught her before she toppled over.
"Woah, are you all right, Detective?" he asked, realising something was amiss.
"Just a little light-headed," she admitted, as the colour drained from her face.
"Looks like you've been wounded," Chalmers said quite calmly to her, pointing to the growing blood-stain on the sleeve of her beige suit.
She looked down and only then noticed the blood flowing down her arm, dripping freely onto the ground. When the realisation hit her, her knees went weak and Chalmers guided her gently to the ground. Another paramedic was quickly over to her aid. He removed her jacket, checked the wound and reassured her that she would be fine. Baker, however, was more concerned for the Commissioner's well-being than for her own and she strained to see what was going on a few feet away from her. Having been reassured that the Commissioner was being well looked after, she relaxed a little and allowed herself to be treated at the scene.
Predictably, a call had gone out over the police radio frequency of a shooting at One Police Plaza with multiple casualties and officers down. Television news stations were already preparing to report live from the scene. Detective Danny Reagan was travelling with his partner, Jackie Curatola, on their way to interview a suspect in an ongoing assault case when they first heard the call on their radio, calling all available units to the scene.
"Did she say One P. P.?" Danny asked, unsure whether he had heard correctly.
"Yeah, that's definitely what she said," Jackie replied, realising instantly why her partner was so worried.
"Damn. What day is it?" Danny asked, knowing that his father held open air press conferences on certain days.
"Tuesday," Jackie replied.
"Shit!" Danny cursed, knowing what that meant. "Change of plans," he said, hitting the siren and taking an abrupt u-turn back in the direction of Park Row where One Police Plaza was located.
Danny took out his cell and with one hand on the steering wheel, tried to call his father. It kept going straight to voice mail.
He tried Detective Baker's cell, knowing that she would never be very far from his father on a work day. The first time her phone rang out, unanswered. He tried it again and again. Eventually she answered.
"Detective Baker? It's Danny Reagan. What's going on down there? Is my dad with you?" he asked eagerly.
"Detective Reagan," Baker said, sounding a little shell-shocked.
There was a long pause. She didn't know what to say or how to say it.
"There was a shooting," she began nervously.
"Yeah, I know. I heard on the radio. Is my father okay?" Danny asked directly.
"Em, not really… he's been shot," Baker told him shakily. "He's on his way to the hospital."
"Ah, Christ! How bad is it?" Danny asked, his heart plummeting.
"I don't know. It looks bad. He took a round to the chest," she replied candidly.
"Oh, God," Danny muttered as his world started to disintegrate. "Which hospital?"
"I'm not sure, hold on," she replied. He could hear her asking someone in the background. "Mercy Hospital," she informed him.
"Thanks," Danny replied before turning to his partner. "He's been shot," he announced as he took a corner at full speed, the tires screeching as they fought to grip the road.
Danny drove like a lunatic in the direction of Mercy Hospital. This couldn't be happening, not again. It was only a couple of years since he had lost one of his brothers in the line of duty. His family was only starting to get back on their feet. And now this had to happen? He needed to be with his father. His mind turned to his family. They couldn't find out from the media. He had to call them.
Meanwhile, from her office at City Hall, not far from the scene of the shooting, ADA Erin Reagan-Boyle stood peering out of the window. Something was definitely going on down there, she assumed from the heightened activity and ambulances and police cars racing towards Park Row. She immediately started to worry. She turned on the TV in her office and flicked to a local news channel to see if she could find out what had happened. A female news reporter was doing a live and obviously unprepared stand-up in front of the news truck outside a municipal building. She was reporting that there was at least one dead and several injured at the scene of the shooting only moments ago. As the camera shot pulled back, Erin immediately recognised the building as Number One Police Plaza. Her heart sank, realising the implications. She knew her father had his press call this afternoon. She had plans to meet him for a bite of lunch once he was finished. She reached for her cell phone to call him and made several attempts at reaching him. Much to her frustration, it kept going straight to voice mail. She took a deep breath to calm herself before calling Melissa Baker's number. She got a busy signal. She decided the quickest way to find out what was going on was to go there herself. It was only a couple of blocks away. She grabbed her handbag and coat and hurried past her secretary, telling her that she was taking an early lunch.
Erin practically jogged the whole way to One Police Plaza. The closer she got, the more worried she became. One ambulance whizzed by her, lights flashing, sirens blaring, closely followed by a second. A police officer directed her away from the scene. She told him who she was, showed him her ID and, after some persuading, he eventually let her pass. There was chaos around the front of the police building. News trucks and camera crews were swarming the area out front as well as ambulance crews and SWAT vans. She pushed her way through and then spotted the podium with the NYPD seal lying on its side on the steps of the Police building. Then to her horror, she notice people standing around, looking shocked and staring down at a body covered by a sheet, which did little to hide the blood which was staining the concrete. Erin took a deep breath, trying to swallow down the rising bile in her throat.
Please God, don't let it be him.
Suddenly, she felt a hand on her shoulder, which caused her to flinch.
"Sorry, Miss. This is a crime scene. You'll have to leave," the uniformed officer told her.
"My name is Erin Reagan-Boyle. I'm the Police Commissioner's daughter," she told him. Looking over towards the body, she asked, "Is that him?"
The officer turned and looked towards the body near the podium.
"Eh, no, Miss. I don't think so," he replied, not sounding all that convinced.
"I need to speak to someone in charge," Erin said with insistence.
"Come with me," the young officer said, leading the way towards a group of people standing around at the back of an ambulance.
As they neared the ambulance, Erin recognised Deputy Commissioner Vincenzo among the small group. He was talking to someone who was sitting on the back step of the ambulance. Everyone was looking very sombre and serious. Erin still fretted because there was still no sign of her father. She felt a little better when she recognised the blonde woman sitting on the ambulance step as Detective Melissa Baker, her father's aide. Melissa got to her feet when she spotted Erin approaching.
"Ms. Reagan," Baker said, getting shakily to her feet.
Erin absorbed the scene that greeted her. Melissa Baker looked pale and shaken. She stood in her blood-spattered blouse, the sleeve of which was cut away and her arm now sporting a large dressing. There were also bloodstains on her skirt. She looked around at the officers who stood beside her. No one could look Erin in the eye. What's wrong with them, she wondered. No one said a word to her. They didn't know what to say. Erin presumed the worst.
"Where is he?" Erin asked eventually.
"They've just taken him," Melissa told her.
"Taken him? Taken him where?" Erin asked, still unclear as to what had transpired.
"To Mercy Hospital," Baker replied.
Erin's heart sank. Her dad was hurt. Deep down, she already sensed it but was hoping that she was wrong. Now her priority was to be with him. Baker was about to fill Erin in on what had happened and the Commissioner's condition when the paramedic treating her interrupted her and urged her to get into the ambulance to be transported to the ER. Reluctantly she did as she was told, climbed in the back and settled onto a gurney.
"Can I ride with you?" Erin asked, looking in the back door of the ambulance.
"Of course," Baker replied.
With that, Erin climbed into the back. One of the paramedics climbed in with them and they were soon underway. As they drove, Erin quizzed Detective Baker over her father's condition. She was horrified to learn the severity of his injury.
"Why wasn't he wearing a vest?" Erin asked angrily.
"He was," Melissa told her.
"He was? How did…oh, God," Erin sighed as the implications registered with her.
It took a specialised type of bullet to pierce a ballistics vest. Having grown up in a house full of cops, she had often heard them refer to 'cop-killers', usually as they were on their way to attend the funeral of another colleague brutally gunned down. She knew the damage that type of bullet could cause. She wanted to cry but held it back; trying to be brave like her father would expect her to be.
Detective Baker also told her of the death of her father's bodyguard. Erin had met Karl many times and always liked him. He was a good man, dedicated to his job and loyal to her father. He didn't deserve to die that way. For the rest of the journey the women sat silently, considering the tragedy that had befallen them and each fearing what news faced them once they arrived at the ER. Erin was doing her best to stay in control of her emotions when her cell phone rang. She looked at the caller ID. It was her brother, Danny.
"Danny," she said immediately upon answering.
"Erin, where are you?" Danny asked.
"On my way to Mercy Hospital. Dad's been shot," Erin told him.
"I know. We're nearly there. He'll be okay, Erin," Danny said, trying to reassure his younger sister as any big brother would.
"Karl Pawlak's dead," Erin announced bluntly.
"What? Oh, man," Danny said in disbelief. "Look, Sis, I'm pulling up at the hospital now. I'll see you when you get here. Will you let the others know?"
"What? Oh, yeah….yeah of course," Erin stammered.
In an alleyway, several blocks away, Billy Chen tossed his weapon and overcoat into a dumpster. Straightening out his suit and fixing his tie, he continued calmly out of the alley onto the busy street before heading down the steps into the nearest subway. Mission accomplished. Now all he had to do was wait to collect the final instalment of his fee.
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