The Sniper Incident from Ro’s perspective: Six

The Van Gambit

Saturday, March 24, 2007, 1:14 p.m.

When Ro completed her preparations, she said into the SWAT wand mic, “Ready.”

Pease acknowledged, “10-04,” and checked his watch. They had estimated it would take her twenty to twenty-five minutes to reach the first checkpoint.

They had decided all communications from Corporal Delahanty would be through the secure SWAT radio and only with Pease, who would, in turn, handle any necessary communication with everyone else.

“Phase one underway,” he said into the general radio, signaling to the sheriff’s group on the west to get ready to implement their role in the plot.

Using the big SWAT van as a screen, Ro scrambled up the side of the railroad embankment, crawled across the tracks and dropped down the other side. Turning left, she loped along the five-foot ditch, the Remington in her left hand, the prop bundle in her right. But she needed to be careful, partly because the footing was tricky, with mushy wet spots and lots of debris, and partly because she had to hunch over to keep her near six-foot height from being visible over the top.

Ro reached the fourth culvert under the embankment, which she had estimated was close to a hundred yards short of the trapped deputies, in twenty-two minutes.

“At first checkpoint.”

“10-04,” Pease acknowledged, then, using the general radio, Pease said simply, “Go.”

***
A little over three-fourths of a mile to Ro’s west, Makuakeeta County Deputy Susan Rundle, who was the sister of Deputy Tucker Lind, one of the duo pinned down in the ditch, climbed into the department’s white, fifteen-passenger prisoner transport van. She had volunteered for the potentially life-threatening mission, overcoming Sheriff Dahlgren’s misgivings with a simple, “He’s family.”

While Sheriff Dahlgren watched with obvious disapproval, she slowly rolled past the cluster of police units out into the island shooter’s presumed fire zone and using her left hand deployed a make-shift white flag – a large kitchen towel from the courthouse’s cafeteria stapled to a broom handle – above the van’s roof, her lightbar going with the intent of attracting his attention.

“Underway,” the sergeant who was Dahlgren’s aide radioed to Pease, who in turn shared it with Delahanty.

***

With the shooter’s attention now, hopefully, fixed on the van to the west, Ro squirmed through the culvert to the low ditch next to the highway. Her guess had been on target, the disabled patrol cars were ninety yards to her right. She began literally crawling along the ditch, using her pad protected elbows and knees to move forward, resisting any temptation to raise her head and look toward the island.

But she could see the van, which had been instructed to move at a slow walking speed, getting closer to the deputies, who were both looking toward it in anticipation of being “rescued” and had no clue she was approaching their position from the other direction. She was about ten yards short when the van reached the deputies. She heard the driver, a female, shout out the window, “Get your butts in here you two!”

They obeyed, running to the back of the van and climbing in.

Just before giving the van a bit of gas to continue rolling east, Ro heard the driver order, “Stay back there and don’t look around, just keep your eyes on me, got it?”

The rumble of the van’s V-8 accelerating drowned out any response.

Next: Sniper vs. sniper

From the Ro Delahanty novel Twists and Turns © 2019 Dave Lager