Saturday, March 24, 2007
Skassa’s field of fire, though not necessarily an effective field, was a not quite two-mile wide crescent of Highway 20, the west end delineated by the island closer to the shore, the east side by the grove next to the water, the same trees he had parked near when first surveying the island. It was this direction he assumed the SWAT unit would come from and was therefore of more immediate interest. Closer than the island on the west, only twelve-hundred yards, the grove was twenty yards wide and thickly overgrown with a mix of mature and spindly trees. Because they were just beginning to bud out, he could see what was up on the road, but at the same time they screened out any effective shot, too many trunks and branches to deflect his bullet’s trajectory.
He waited and watched.
A little after ten-thirty it started to drizzle.
Two more Makuakeeta County patrol cars joined the scene to augment the opposite roadblocks. While most of the civilian vehicles did turn around as instructed, others instead pulled over to the highway’s shoulder, their occupants exiting the cars and gathering behind the police lines, the earliest phalanx of the unavoidable looky-loos attracted to cop scenes. No more trains lumbered through on the tracks, and no more Jon boats appeared out on the water, so he assumed they were being diverted as well.
At least a couple of deputies, one at each end, also maintained a constant surveillance of “his” island through binoculars.
He ate a protein bar and sipped from his thermos, mostly dry and comfortable under the tarp and poncho. He was, if anything, a patient man.
The drizzle let-up after forty-five minutes.
It was not quite eleven-thirty when another Crown Vic joined the muster of cops on the east; this one in the traditional black and white motif. On the front door was “Fort Armstrong County Sheriff,” the back door was emblazoned with a five-pointed star decal, and the unit number “19” was visible on the rear fender.
An officer in black tactical gear with “SWAT” in white letters across the chest climbed out of the driver’s seat. From his distance he could not read the tiny lettering on the name badge over the right breast. While the bulky vest and baggy pants masked any revealing details of body shape, and the squat ballistic helmet covered the hair, it did appear to be a tall, slender figure; however, the fine facial features he could make out were definitely those of a female.
His hopes rose this was indeed R. Delahanty.
She joined the other three officers on the scene, exchanging a greeting with the shorter state cop as if they knew one another, then introduced herself to the two Makuakeeta County deputies. When she jerked her head back to the east, which he took to mean she was telling them more SWAT people were on the way, the two deputies looked relieved.
There was several minutes of conversation. At first, he thought it was only to bring each other up to date. There was pointing at the disabled police vehicles in the middle of the highway nearly a mile from their position and many glances at his island.
At one point one of the Makuakeeta deputies handed her his mic and there was an animated discussion with whoever was on the other end. Swinging the scope around to his left, it appeared to be the sheriff, except his body language was emphatic, hinting there was some disagreement with what was being said.
Swinging back to the east, he was in time to catch her hand the mic back to the deputy with a half-smile like, “Well, we’ll see who’s right here.”
The deputy rolled his eyes.
The state cop and the new arrival exchanged a glance.
Disengaging herself from the others, she moved to the rear of the black and white squad car, used a fob to open the trunk and a moment later withdrew a long gun that was definitely not the distinctive stubby shape of a standard SWAT-issue AR-style carbine. He immediately recognized it as a Remington 700 mounted with a telescopic scope.
He smiled, sure this had to be R. Delahanty, the SWAT unit’s designated marksman, the sniper who would now be expected to neutralize the threat, namely him.
Sniper vs. sniper – good!
Next: The Van Bluff
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