Ro finds something interesting
Saturday, March 24, 2007, 11:55 a.m.
So, placing the rifle across the roof of the patrol car in front of its light bar, she began examining the shoreline, looking for somewhere more advantageous from which to survey the island in more detail and eventually take her own shot. But the catch was she was feeling lots of time pressure. For one, the SWAT unit would arrive in a little while and expect at least a preliminary assessment of the scene. Of greater concern to Ro, though, was the Makuakeeta County sheriff’s seeming impatience. She was afraid he might decide on impulse to send an assault team across to the island in a boat. If this shooter was as good as she suspected, it meant the sheriff would lose people unnecessarily in that kind of encounter.
She started at the near end of the river bluff behind the railroad embankment. It varied from thirty feet to maybe double that height above the river, with houses visible every few hundred feet near the edge, which she imagined had great views of the river. The bluff side itself was steep and heavily forested, with some mature trees as thick as a man’s body. While there could be possible hides near one of those, she could also see the underbrush was a tangle of nettles and thorny locust trees, not unlike the woods in the back part of the state park where she liked to run, which would make finding and getting to any hide difficult and time consuming.
At the base of the bluff behind the embankment a few hundred yards from her position was some sort of signal light on top of a concrete anchor. Way around the curve of the bluff, not far from the sheriff’s position on the west, she could see a stand of pampas grass that had grown down the side of the bluff and up against the railroad. But she discounted either as possible hides because they were at too severe an angle from the island, restricting her field of fire.
What she needed was a position almost exactly perpendicular to the island, partially to give her the widest view, but mostly to minimize the distance from which she had no doubt she would have to take her shot, now suspicious this was boiling down to a sniper vs. sniper duel.
The railroad embankment was several feet higher than the highway, its face covered with ballast stone the size of a small child’s fist in multiple shades of white, gray and black. The ditch behind it, at the bottom of the bluff, had to be at least five feet deep: Okay, perhaps some potential hides back there.
Swinging the scope back to a near position, she began to inspect the ditch between the highway and the embankment eventually leading to where the two deputies were pinned down. It was six feet wide by at most a couple of feet deep, so didn’t offer very favorable cover in and of itself; the deputies were probably safe as long as they kept their heads down and stayed behind the disabled cars.
But then she saw something interesting. Fifty yards up the ditch was a round metal culvert that looked to be close to three-feet wide, apparently designed to keep drainage coming off the bluff from building up behind the embankment. Because of its low profile, to someone looking across from the island it would be virtually invisible. Swinging the scope farther along, she found several more culverts spaced every few hundred yards.
Although not able to see it because it was too far around the curve, she thought if this spacing continued, there had to be one in the vicinity of the disabled patrol cars. It gave her an idea.
Next: Operation Copperfield
From the Ro Delahanty novel Twists and Turns © 2019 Dave Lager