Henry Reagan had spent most of the morning pottering around his back garden, enjoying the benefits of his well-earned retirement. He was on his way inside to make lunch when he heard the telephone ringing. Peeling off his gloves, he hurried to answer it as quickly as his aging legs would allow.
"Grandpa? Have you seen the news?"
It was Erin, his grand-daughter. She sounded breathless and strangely out of sorts.
"The news? No – I don't watch daytime TV, you know that, Erin," he reminded her.
"You need to get down to Mercy Hospital as soon as you can. Dad's been shot," she told him, her voice breaking slightly.
What did she say?
Henry was stunned. He fell silent, hardly able to believe what she was telling him. Not his son, not his Francis.
"Grandpa? Are you still there?" Erin asked, concerned for the elderly gent.
"I'm still here, Erin. Is he….?" he tried to ask but was unable to finish the question for fear of getting an answer he didn't want to hear.
"I don't know. I'm on my way to the hospital now. Is Jamie home? Can he drive you?" Erin asked, referring to her rookie cop of a brother, who happened to be on his day off today.
"I think he went out," Henry told her. "I'll call him on his cell. What about Nicky?" Henry asked, referring to Erin's teenage daughter.
"Oh, God, Nicky," Erin said, fearing how her daughter would find out. "She's in school. I'll call Linda and ask her to pick her up and take her back to hers."
Linda was Erin's sister-in-law, Danny's wife.
"Okay," Henry replied. "I'll meet you at the hospital. See you soon."
Henry hung up the phone and had to sit down for a minute to allow him to absorb the news. Eventually he got back to his feet and poured himself a nip of Jameson whiskey to steady his rattled nerves. As he sipped it, his youngest grandson, Jamie, arrived through the front door and into the living room. He thought it unusual to see his grandfather with a drink in his hand so early in the day.
"Are you okay, Grandpa?" he asked, noticing the slight shake in the elderly man's hand.
Henry's eyes met Jamie's. There was sadness deep in his soul.
"It's your father, Jamie," Henry began. "I just got a call from Erin. He's been shot."
"Shot? When? Is he okay?" Jamie asked, sounding completely shell-shocked.
Jamie suddenly found himself being transported back to that fateful day when his father broke the devastating news to him that his brother, Joe, had been killed in the line of duty. Just like then, he felt that dreadful, empty feeling in his chest like someone had just yanked his heart out. Not again, he thought, this couldn't be happening again.
"Jamie," Henry said, trying to get his grandson's attention. "Jamie," he repeated, seeing that the young man was very distressed.
"Jamie!" he called once more, this time the sharpness of his tone snapping the youngster back from wherever he had been. "I need you to drive me to the hospital; can you do that?"
"The hospital? Sure. I'll get my keys," he said shakily, disappearing into the kitchen momentarily.
He quickly returned, keys in hand and was ready to go. Both generations of Reagan men drove with haste into the city towards the hospital, each terrified about what they would discover when they got there.
There was chaos in the ER of Mercy Hospital when a convoy of patients descended upon it, patients which included the New York City Police Commissioner. They rushed him straight to a Trauma Room where he was immediately tended to by the top trauma surgeons in that hospital. Chief Hammond was also among the arriving patients and was whisked to a separate Trauma Room. He was in far better shape than the Commissioner, conscious and lucid. Other injured parties were triaged and seen as quickly as possible. Extra hospital security staff also had to be drafted in to stop members of the press gaining access to the ER as they pursued their breaking news story of the day.
Danny Reagan and his partner Jackie arrived at the ER shortly after the first of the ambulances. Initially, they were denied entry by security staff until Danny produced his police badge and ID. He hurried to the admissions desk and hovered impatiently, trying to find someone to speak to so he could find out about his father. Everyone was too busy to stop and talk to him. Then he noticed Lt. Chalmers pacing outside the door of a Trauma Room down the corridor. They had only met once or twice in the course of their jobs over the years but Danny remembered him. He hurried towards him hoping to find out something.
"Lieutenant?" Danny said eager for news.
"Detective Danny Reagan," Danny said introducing himself, in case Chalmers didn't remember him. "Is my father in there?"
"Yes, they're working on him," Chalmers confirmed as he shook the young detective's hand.
Danny withdrew his hand abruptly and breezed past him, marching purposefully into the Trauma Room. He was stopped dead in his tracks by the sight of his father lying on a gurney, his clothing cut away, the paleness of his features emphasising the crimson of the blood which soaked the sheet beneath him. One doctor stood on his left-hand side, his hand probing a large incision in his father's chest. Blood soaked swabs littered the floor, a testament to the amount of blood the Commissioner was losing. As he stood gawping, a monitor alarm started sounding and the doctor's efforts became even more urgent. Danny fought back a wave of nausea that unexpectedly swept over him.
"His BP's going through the floor. Hang another unit of O Neg on the rapid infuser," the attending ordered. "Clamp!" he said, working furiously to try and stop the bleeding.
As Danny stood there in disbelief until his presence was eventually noticed and a nurse grabbed him by the shoulders, wheeled him around and practically shoved him out through the door.
"You cannot be in here," she chastised crossly.
"But…..," Danny began to protest.
"You'll only be in the way. Let them work," she said, making it clear his presence was not welcome.
Seeing his father in that condition had left Danny traumatised. As the doors swung closed behind him, he stood motionless with his back to the door of the Trauma Room, staring at a blank wall, his features noticeably paler than when he had entered.
"Reagan?" Jackie asked, approaching her partner with concern.
Danny raised his head, looked at her before extending his hand, palm out, to warn her not to come near him. Without warning, he turned and ran to the nearest trash can and promptly threw up. Her heart went out to her partner. She had never seen him so upset. From his reaction, she knew it must be bad inside the Trauma Room. She watched as Danny attempted to composed himself, wiping his face with his handkerchief. She could see what a struggle it was for him to keep the tears that threatened to fall at bay. She approached him and he nodded his head, unable to speak at that moment. She put her arm around his shoulder, an open display of compassion for her partner before guiding him to a seat close by.
They sat there for a few minutes outside the Trauma Room while Chalmers paced up and down, battling that anxious, helpless feeling. All remained quiet until the door of the Trauma Room burst open and the trauma team rushed past them, pushing the gurney bearing the wounded Commissioner. Danny immediately jumped to his feet and jogged alongside them.
"Dad?" he called, hoping to see some response, anything to tell him that his father was going to make it. Sadly, there was none. He reached and grabbed his father's hand. "Where are you taking him?" he asked a member of the team.
"We're red-lining him to the OR," the doctor replied. "We need to move, now."
"He's going to be okay, right?" Danny asked expectantly as a nurse held the elevator door open so the team could enter.
The doctor looked him in the eye but failed to give him an answer as the door of the elevator conveniently closed, leaving Danny a lonely, broken figure standing outside.
Jackie walked up behind him and rubbed his back, reminding him that she was there for him. As she did so, he heard his name called from down the hall. He turned and saw his sister coming running towards him. When she reached him, she threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly.
"How is he?" Erin asked impatiently.
Danny just bit his top lip and shook his head. She could see immediately how distressed her brother was and stood aghast, suspecting the worst.
"Is he..?" she asked, not wanting to say it.
"He's…..I don't know. It looks bad, Sis," he finally managed to tell her.
"Oh, God," she said, reaching for a seat to steady her already shaky self.
Lieutenant Chalmers and Detective Curatola both stood awkwardly by as the siblings tried to come to terms with yet another catastrophe to befall their family. No one really knew what to do. Finally, Jackie suggested that they would be better off waiting on the surgical floor for news of the Commissioner. Erin and Danny agreed. As they departed the ER, Chalmers told them that he would wait there and see how Chief Hammond and the others were doing. They thanked him for what he had done and the group sombrely entered the elevator.
They quickly found the waiting room on the surgical floor and settled in for what was likely to be a long wait.
Back outside One Police Plaza, the Crime Scene Investigators had arrived, led by head of the Crime Lab, Detective Mac Taylor. He and his team were already busy processing the scene, trying to establish a picture of what had happened. Sid, their Medical Examiner, was doing a preliminary examination on Karl Pawlak, the only confirmed fatality of the mornings shooting, so far.
"What have you got, Sid?" Mac asked, hoping to shine some light on the morning events.
"Single gunshot to the occipital area of the skull. Death was instantaneous. Is it true this man was the Commissioner's bodyguard?" Sid enquired, having overheard officers talking. Mac nodded affirmatively.
"From what I've heard, he put himself between the Commissioner and the shooter," Mac told him. "He was a brave man."
Sid sighed, contemplating such a senseless waste of a human life.
"Any word on the Commissioner or Hammond?" he asked as Mac was walking away from him.
"I haven't heard anything yet, Sid. I'm going over to the hospital now and taking Hawkes with me. We'll need to speak to those who were injured. Danny, Lindsay and Jo can finish up here. I'll see you back at the lab," Mac said, turning away to go and find Dr. Sheldon Hawkes, another of his CSI investigators.
He and Hawkes drove to the hospital, each sharing their hypotheses on the morning's events, having seen the crime scene first hand. Journalists and television reporters were buzzing around the outside of the hospital, trying to get the scoop on the Commissioner's condition. Some of them recognised Detective Taylor from previous cases and descended upon him for a statement or a quote as he exited his SUV. Being used to press invasion by now and well versed in avoidance, Mac just swept past them, making no comment and entered the ER.
He immediately made his presence known to staff and made enquiries with regard to the whereabouts of the Commissioner, Detective Melissa Baker, Officer John Morris and Police Chief Hammond. He was informed that the Commissioner was in surgery and that Police Chief Hammond and Officer Morris were being prepped for surgery. Hammond had been wounded in the lower abdomen but his injuries were not life-threatening. Officer Morris had been hit in the leg and he just required surgery to remove the bullet. However, they were told that neither would be available for interview until after their surgery. The nurse then showed them to a curtained off area where Melissa Baker was being treated.
"Detective Baker? I'm Detective Mac Taylor with the Crime Lab. This is Dr. Sheldon Hawkes. We'd like to ask you a few questions about this morning's shooting," Mac explained.
"Of course," Baker replied, shifting uncomfortably on the bed.
"How are you feeling?" Mac enquired, noticing her wounded limb.
"I'll be okay. It's just a through and through. Any news on the Commissioner?" she asked, desperate to find out whether he was still alive, having not heard anything since she was admitted.
"He's in surgery," Mac told her.
She just shook her head despondently.
"He was wearing a vest. This shouldn't have happened," Baker said, still shaking her head. There was fury in her voice.
"Was it standard procedure that the Commissioner would wear a ballistics vest to events?" Sheldon asked.
"Not all of the time, but we had received intel that there was a credible threat. We only spoke about it this morning in his office and he scoffed that it was the seventh threat he'd received this year already, but I insisted that he wear the vest anyway, for all the good it did," she said, frustration evident in her tone.
"Okay, so I take it that the shot breached the vest?" Mac surmised by her reaction.
"One shot is all the shooter got on target but it was all he needed. It went straight through the vest like it was butter," Baker told them.
Mac and Hawkes exchanged glances. They knew the type of ammunition it took to breach body armour. They also knew the damage such bullets could do to a person. They had too often stood over corpses on the autopsy table of victims of such bullets.
"Probably cop-killers," Mac said, deliberately using the colloquial term. "We'll be able to confirm that after we run some tests on casings collected from the scene," he explained.
"Can you tell us anything about the shooter?" Sheldon asked.
Baker took a deep breath and concentrated, doing her utmost to recall the horrific events of earlier that day.
"I wish I could. He must have been using a silencer," Baker told them. "I couldn't hear any shots. One minute the Commissioner was talking, the next thing he was falling. It was like everything happened in slow motion. I heard Chief Hammond cry out when he was hit. Karl reacted first and then he went down. Oh, God! Poor Karl," Baker said, her emotions finally coming to the fore. She quickly regained her composure, not wanting to seem like a weak female in front of male colleagues and continued on as professionally as she could. "The shooter had to be in front of us. I stood up and watched the crowd disperse but I couldn't see him. There was panic. People were trying to get away. He had to be there in the crowd; there was nowhere else he could be," Baker insisted.
"Okay, we'll get any footage we can from One PP security and traffic cams in the area. We'll find who did this," Mac assured the shaken detective.
"Thank you, Detective Baker," Hawkes said, acknowledging how shaken the young detective was, while appreciating her clarity and professionalism. "We will need to take your clothes."
"My clothes?" she said sounding surprised.
"Yeah, blood spatter patterns can help us determine the trajectory of the projectile and build a clearer forensic picture of the scene," Hawkes explained. "We'll get you some sweats."
"Okay, sure, they're in that bag over there," Baker said, pointing to the large paper bag on in the corner. "Don't think I'll be wearing them again anyway."
"Thank you, Detective," Taylor said, picking up the bag and turning to leave. "If you think of anything else, give me a call," he said, handing her his card.
She nodded, accepting the card and exhaling a large, shaky breath. Detective Baker was still quite traumatized but doing her best to conceal it. She was desperately worried about the Commissioner. She felt responsible for what had happened, even though there was nothing more she could have done to protect him. But if he didn't make it, she would never forgive herself.
A/N - Plenty more to come. Thanks for all your positive reviews.