Publisher’s Note: In the near future, weapons confiscation laws are going to get worse as the blow-back against police misbehavior, over-reach and perennial escalation start to force reactions that the maximum state has not anticipated. This is part of a chapter drawn from the novel that I am currently writing, The Cancer Club.
Per my previous posting, I had mentioned the fictional account creates a sharper narrative to draw some of the lessons out that would otherwise be lost in a dry supposition of what the future may hold. This is one of two fictional accounts I’ve created, this first one personalizes a singular event while the second one will speculate on what a complex attack against police forces in the US may look like in the not too distant future in which the casualties and death toll are much higher.
These are works of fiction and any resemblance to persons alive or dead is a mere coincidence but any similitude to a close future when the government assumes it can maim and murder at will may be a keener harbinger than any one should be comfortable with.
I have mentioned in the past that the US government has done itself no favors with the global wars it has waged that has trained thousands of young men in the myriad miseries of warfare, especially urban fighting. I offer this as a small taste of things to come as the police discover that Newton’s Third Law applies in their sphere too.
Consider this a cautionary tale of the undiscovered country in front of all of us.
In other news, I will be completing the last half of our four-part series on Irregular Warfare (Part I and Part II) with the estimable Prof CJ at the Dangerous History Podcast this weekend. I promise a proper intellectual thrashing of the ever-fashionable COIN-dinistas who have wrought destruction and mayhem globally. -BB
Ed “Chilly” Hernandez had been on the Tucson PD force for eleven years and four years on SWAT. After a National Guard deployment to Afghanistan in 2010, he had been selected to be on SWAT and then commanded a team. He was heavyset but fit and had craggy features that had seen lots of sun in the Arizona desert.
He stood in the ISO room and looked around at the five men gathered around the table. Manning had been stretched thin with the increasing frequency of “high risk” warrant service.
“John Decker is the subject of tonight’s dynamic entry. Per the directive that just came down, we are hitting a number of violators who have been flagged on the DHS list for weapons offenders. He appears to have four unauthorized rifles and two pistols that we are charged with confiscating. He is a military veteran and possesses a CCW for the state of Arizona so we have to consider him armed and dangerous.” He continued. “When we stack, we’ll roll in a four-man stack and Ron and Chico will cover overwatch in the rear.”
He turned to the two men he just mentioned. “Ron, need you on the rear of the house in overwatch with Chico. I need a green light from you once in position. We will be rolling at 0200 and I hope to breach no later than 0245. Questions?”
Chico: “Yeah, what did this old guy do wrong or are we just confiscating his guns?”
Ed sneered at Chico. “Shit-can the NRA bullshit, Chico and do what you’re told. We don’t make the laws, we bust the heads to enforce them. Alright, lads, time hack on my mark.” He stared at his watch and hesitated. “Now, 2335. Okay, lots of preps before we roll. Questions?”
He entertained a few questions and they scattered.
The men left the team room and scattered to their bays to prepare for the operation. Chico hung back.
“Hey boss, I think this is really fucked up. I read through the warrant and it is fucking boilerplate. How many of these have been issued, seems like a mimeograph order.”
“Chico, let me know when you want me to kick your ass off the team because of your silly notions. Otherwise, get to it.”
Chico frowned and stepped out to get his gear prepped and the vehicles ready. They were rolling in a department MRAP and he had a checklist as long as his arm to get it ready to move.
He moved to the back area where the MRAP was parked and put the lights on in the vehicle park. They silhouetted the hulking vehicle. 14 tons of mine resistant armored hardware, the department complained about the fuel mileage but wait until they got the bill for annual maintenance. He lowered the powered rear ramp and stepped inside to PCI the vehicle and get it ready to roll. Despite its size, the interior was cramped and not comfortable by any standard. Chico set to work.
John slept fitfully in the chair, woke up and rolled over to the couch. His watch read 0217. As he laid down, he rolled on his right side and winced as the holstered Glock made the change rather uncomfortable. He leaned into the couch and closed his eyes.
He drifted off again.
All the men on the SWAT team gathered around the vehicles, the MRAP and a chase van. “Alright, men, secure your gear and let’s mount up. Everyone should be clear on the snatch and grab.” Some of the men rolled their eyes at the insipid use of military argot for the night’s crime mission. Ed had always been a hard-ass who liked his job a bit too much. The men grumbled as they struggled aboard the transports and radioed in their departure. The advance patrol unit was already near the apartment complex to recce and make sure all preparations were complete.
The trucks rolled out in one smooth convoy out of the TPD Operations Complex underground parking and continued for the short journey to Decker’s house.
Decker’s eyes flashed open when he heard the neighbor’s dogs go nuts, he didn’t live in the best area but he paid attention to canine alerts. He usually didn’t hear from the bedroom but the living room was much closer to the small yard next door. His hearing just wasn’t what it used to be. He was a terrible housekeeper and did not realize that the pile of clothes in a basket next to the door would save his life in the next few minutes and change it forever.
He heard the dog yelp next door and go silent.
Ron cleaned the knife off on the dog’s coat after he slit its throat. He squelched his mike twice for the all clear. He hated dogs and took pleasure in killing the mongrels. He had left a trail of their bodies scattered around Tucson. He smiled as he slipped the knife into the sheath and Chico frowned at him.
Chico whispered: “That’s fucked up, man, stop smiling like the Cheshire cat. You just creep me the fuck out, psycho.” He grimaced and turned to the apartment in front of them.
Ron gave him the finger and settled into a low prone at the back of the apartment complex. He and Chico were the rear security team so he pressed his cheek into the stock of the surplus M24 the department had gotten from the DoD. Chico sidled next to him and dropped his NODs in place. Ron wasn’t wearing NODs relying on the night vision on the gun platform, another gift from the Pentagon through the 1033 program to TPD.
He spoke into his mike: “All clear, chief.”
In front of the apartment, the four remaining men crept on the front porch of the complex and stacked up to the right of the front door opposite the hinges. Ed tapped the man in front with a go signal and he passed it to the point man who stepped out and lowered the shotgun to the nearest hinge and started blasting each one in turn. It was done in seconds.
“Breached, fire in the hole!” He snatched a flash bang from his vest and slipped the spoon off and tossed it through the door. The effect grenade sailed through the room at a steep angle and landed in the pile of dirty clothes in the basket, which absorbed some of the blast and directed most upward. At the same time, the team muscled in the door and started shouting commands.
The timer on the TV had darkened the screen hours ago while Decker snored in the sofa. Decker’s couch faced away from the flash-bang blast in the other room, his vision was intact because he had been sleeping but his hearing was seriously shattered. He opened his jaw once or twice to try to get his equilibrium back. The ringing in his ears was rather insistent.
As he did so, he smoothly drew the Glock from the holster on his hip and quickly retrieved two full magazines from the table in front where all his cleaning gear and gun parts were. He could hardly hear but felt the vibration of the front door dropping and heavy footsteps coming his way.
His mind flashed on news stories of criminal gangs and drug lords doing middle of the night home invasions in the area. He turned toward the approaching sound and lifted the gun in front of him. He kept a Level III vest with the left shoulder strap unsecured next to the chair and slipped it on as he faced to the front door.
I will never be caught with my pants down again. Body simply not reacting as fast anymore.
He remembered his training meme: “Heads and hips, boys and girls, heads and hips.”
Chilly advanced forward in front of his men barely hearing the rest of his team when he stepped into the living room and saw the tall rail-thin black man aiming a very large pistol at him. He had never seen such determination in a man’s eyes as the one in front of him. As he brought his gun up and tried to shout “police”, the end of the Glock blossomed flame and he felt like a Mack truck hit him in the hip and felt another round hit his unarmored knee on the right.
The team was dressed in full black kit with helmets and police scrolled in olive drab across the front and back. The darker lettering was a nod to operator creds. Unfortunately, low light situations made it hard to read at night. The combination of Decker’s temporary deafness and the low illumination sealed the fate of his entire team.
Chilly buckled and fell like a demolished building as his entire right side collapsed in a cascade. His finger was on the trigger instead of indexed to the right of the receiver. He depressed the trigger of his MP5 in reaction to the pain and the 9mm rounds peppered the ceiling of the small living room. Two of the rounds landed in the bedroom upstairs in the apartment occupied by another tenant and managed to drill two nice holes in the torso of the unfortunate woman sleeping there.
The rest of the team poured into the room guns blazing after hearing the sharp boom and report of the .45 ACP rounds from the Glock in Decker’s hands. As they cascaded into the room through sheer momentum, Decker had dropped to the deck and assumed a modified SBS position where he was laterally recumbent and fired under the small table in the living room at the legs of the three assailants who had followed the big guy into the room.
Decker’s Glock slide racked back dry and he quickly reloaded another thirteen round magazine in and locked a round in the chamber. He had to roll to his back to reach the magazines on his hip. He rotated back toward the attackers and pressed the trigger again and simply started drilling anything moving in the room and continued to fire even after the men had been dropped to the deck.
Where’s my fucking flashlight? Heads and hips, boys and girls, heads and hips.
The entire apartment looked like a thunder and lightning storm had brewed in the confines of the small space and the cacophony of sounds was deafening even to Chico and Ron in the backyard.
Chico was registering nothing but screams on the command net and switched to the TPD all-call net.
“Viper Command, this is Chilly4, officers down, need back-up immediately. Overwatch on site and black and white out front. Send paramedics soonest. Over.”
“Chilly4, Viper Command. Roger, give me a SITREP. Over”
“Chilly Actual went dark once breach completed, lots of gunfire to include non-department issue. All gunfire stopped a few minutes ago. No response on team net. Over.”
“Roger, Chilly4, stay outside, assistance is inbound. Out.”
Chico sat back and looked at Ron. Ron looked scared and he was shaking. The jowls on his face resonated a little with each shiver and he sweated profusely. He stared at the house. Ron looked at Chico: “What should we do…go in or stay put, all the gunfire has ceased.”
“We don’t know the status of the team and whether the perp is dead or still a threat. All I get on the team net is dead air. HQ says to stand fast. So we fucking stand fast.”
TPD rarely had to rush the Ready Team to provide assistance to a warrant service. The SWAT elements had become complacent and resistant to their ongoing training and that was about to cost them.
The section of Tucson was abuzz with vehicle sirens as the cars on patrol rushed to the scene, seven cars were inbound and the Secondary Alert SWAT Team was suiting up to get to Decker’s apartment.
The patrolman in the black and white cruiser out front was scared shitless and would not leave his vehicle, he heard all the gunfire and had been jabbering to his desk sergeant on the TPD net. The desk sergeant had told him to hold tight. The young man had been on the force less than 18 months and had never seen or heard anything like this.
Decker scissored out of his position behind the couch and creakily stood up. With the gun in front of him, he looked to the front door and saw the flashing lights outside the window. He surveyed the room with his weapon forward and rested his left hand on his knee while he stooped down, breathing hard.
How did the cops get here so fast?
He went forward to look at the bodies strewn about the living room floor and rolled one over while he checked for a…
Police! Oh my Lord Jesus! Why didn’t they announce themselves.
He went to the carotid of each man to check for a pulse, three had none and one was thready but faint. The man rasped and bloody foam ran down his chin and cheek. His eyes were closed but they flashed open and locked onto Decker. Then the cop closed them and stopped breathing altogether.
Decker rolled them all over and saw the identifying markers in OD green on the vests.
I am well and truly fucked.
Decker heard activity outside and the entire living room illuminated with a blinding light.
“In the house! We’ve lost radio comms with a SWAT team that entered your apartment and are assuming that a hostage situation is underway. Request immediate access to evac casualties, you have one minute to comply otherwise we will force another entry to extract our men.”
Decker formed a plan on the spot.
LT Harrington was fidgeting and nervous about the blowback on the situation evolving in front of him, he stuck a cigarette in his mouth and lit it with shaky hands. He looked around to make sure the CPT had not shown up expecting the usual ration of shit when he was caught smoking by his superiors.
The parking lot must have had two dozen cars and trucks from TPD, BP and other state and federal agencies to rubberneck the scene and get in on the action. He turned to the TPD SWAT Superintendent and caught his eye. He was just as nervous. The SWAT Sup turned to the black-clad team standing by the truck and huddled them together for final instructions.
The Superintendent turned to the team and addressed them.
“Gentlemen, I have no idea what is in that apartment and what the threat is but we will damn sure find out to see what happened to our brothers who have gone in and not come out. Standby for a green light for entry in ten minutes.”
The team shuffled off and got busy on their pre-combat inspections on gear before getting to the gate to rush the apartment.
Decker ducked back into the kitchen out of the blinding light and sat back on the floor.
Only one way out of here. What was that movie with Jean Reno?
He low-crawled to the living room and noticed the men were wearing black uniforms and balaclavas. He quietly but quickly stripped the skinniest man down and traded clothing with him. He had trouble getting the shirt on but finally pulled it down over his torso and laid on his back next to one of the still forms. He quickly made sure all the police identifying clothing was off the man.
Wouldn’t stand up to a detailed inspection but for what he expected it would do, they would not come in guns blazing nor with flash-bangs because of the presence of the cops in the apartment.
He heard heavy footsteps by the front door and gripped the Glock in his holster, he had put some blood from the floor on himself to look more authentic and hoped the ruse worked.
The team leader stacked at the back and called the over-watch team for the trapped SWAT team in the apartment.
“Chilly4, Blackbear6, you got eyes on?”
“Blackbear6, Chilly4, we ain’t got nothin’. The light illum from the trucks but no internal lighting in the apartment, we thought you had ordered the power cut per protocol. No movement through the night vision but there is limited visibility due to clutter, curtains and walls, over.”
“Chilly4, copy that, my team’s going in hot in thirty seconds.”
Decker heard the conversation over the tacnet mike he had grabbed off the body next to him, he was sweating to beat the band. He tightened the grip on the Glock til his knuckles were white.
He could hear the shifting on the front stoop as heavy boots scratched along it. He knew they would not toss a flashbang to avoid further injury to their comrades in arms.
The stick started stomping into the front of the room shouting at the top of their lungs.
“Police, show me your hands, show me your fucking hands, police!” They tracked in and spread out through the house flowing from room to room to constant shouts of “Clear!”
A clear bright light lit his face and he scrunched his eyes close. He had liberally smeared blood over his face and put the balaclava on over it, he was hardly recognizable, he had noted the nametape on the vest he wore as Smith, he was the only black man on the entry team. He had positioned Smith’s body prone on the floor next to him.
A bulky man lumbered over to him and shined an impossibly bright light in his face. He was hoping the ethnic blind spot of white’s relative inability to distinguish black features was accelerated in this hectic and low-lit environment. “Smith, you ambulatory? How bad you hurt?”
This was it, he mouthed the words but didn’t speak thinking that prudent in the off chance that Smith would be recognized by voice by the entry team.
“It’s alright Smith, as soon as we are secure we’ll get you medevac’d out of here. Hey, Steve, get the paramedics in here, apartment is secure.”
The paramedics stomped in with their equipment and started putting him carefully on a litter with a neck brace after checking him for immediate injuries. They heaved the stretcher up and tracked out the door to the vehicle.
As they headed to the ambulance, a large man in a tactical outfit trundled over to the paramedics hauling Decker.
“Who is this?”
“Sir, they identified him as Officer Smith.”
The big man looked him up and down and scowled. “You look like shit, Smith, let’s get you to the hospital and checked out.” He smiled. “You got some vacation time coming so consider yourself lucky.” He winked and looked to the paramedics. “Get him out of here.”
The paramedic schlepped him to the ambulance and slipped him on the gurney and then hopped in and closed the doors. As they secured the door, they turned around to stare into the very large barrel of a Glock 21.
“The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.”
– James A. Baldwin