The Sniper Incident from Ro’s perspective: Twelve

End Game (Part Three)

Saturday, March 24, 2007, evening

They had planned for this. Ten minutes later, three officers from the Joint SWAT unit using a borrowed fisherman’s flat bottom equipped with a quiet-running trolling motor crossed the chute to the far upstream end of the shooter’s island, a thousand yards from his position, then hop-skipped their way along the shoreline, taking turns sprinting from tree to tree while the other two provided cover.

Ro was kept up to date on their progress by the lieutenant because throughout the team’s approach she kept her scope and rifle trained on the shooter’s position, just in case he was faking it and decided to pop-up and take a shot at the advancing officers. Even if she couldn’t hit him, she might be able to keep him pinned down.

Because her attention was focused twelve feet up, she didn’t see it when the cops reached the tree and so was surprised when Pease said into her ear, “The shooter is down. You got him.”

“Acknowledged.”

There were a few more minutes of silence while the lieutenant waited to get an update from the on-scene officers and then relay it to Ro. “You were right, he’s wrapped inside a camo tarp and tied to the tree. They said it was hard to see him even from ten feet away. I’m sending in a Zodiac with a couple of EMTs to help cut him down and haul him back to shore.”

Then added, “Good shooting, DM. You can stand down. Locari’s on the way in a car to bring you back, so you can get some dry clothes and a cup of hot coffee.”

“10-04 to that, L.T.,” Ro said.

Knowing it wouldn’t take Locari long to get to her position, she thought to greet him standing next to one of the disabled cars, except she found it unexpectedly difficult to push herself up from the pavement. Partly it was she’d been awake for nearly twenty-four hours, having worked last night’s third shift, but it probably also had something to do with she’d been immersed in a tense life-death confrontation for something like eight hours, and had been lying on the hard roadway for five hours, to say nothing of getting soaked by a storm.

But being the competitor that she was, it was unacceptable he would have to lean over and pull her up, so she grabbed the front tire of the car she’d been hunkered down behind and used it to hoist herself into a standing position just in time to smile and wave to Locari as he stopped just short of the disabled cars.

***

After they’d lowered the body from the tree and the EMTs officially pronounced the mysterious sniper dead, the SWAT officers searched him. They found a loaded Colt .357 Python handgun and a wallet with an Illinois driver’s license in the name of a Wade Meese at an address in Grand Island.

As a result, the affair turned into a jurisdictional mess.

The Makuakeeta County sheriff’s department kept the body, eventually transporting it back to their county seat for an autopsy.

Sheriff Dahlgren held a news conference and while he acknowledged the involvement of the Joint SWAT Unit, he regularly used pronouns like “we” and “us,” clearly leaving the impression it was “his” unit.

Meanwhile, later that same evening the Grand Island PD conducted a search of the shooter’s apartment. What they found raised everyone’s eyebrows…

Nearly two-dozen fully loaded, mint condition weapons, including several more variations of the Python as well as a Kimber Desert Warrior 1911 .45, a Smith & Wesson snub nose .38, a Ruger Super Redhawk .480 and a Colt Single Action Army (Peacemaker), plus long guns like a Sig Sauer M400, a Henry Golden Boy .22, a Remington 870 12-gauge, and of all things a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun…

As well as a handful of medals, including an Airman’s Medal, the USAF’s next decoration up from a Bronze Star…

And a hand-written note consisting of the famous Karl Wallenda quote, “Being on the tightrope is living, everything else is waiting,” with a cryptic signature: “Skassa.”

The next day, within hours of the Grand Island PD making a routine inquiry with the Defense Department for any information they might have about a Wade Meese, they were told in no uncertain terms to back off, that federal authorities would take over the investigation from here on.

About all the feds were willing to confirm was that Wade Meese had, in fact, been an Air Force sniper and had served in Afghanistan…

…which left a whole lot of intriguing unanswered questions for the locals.

Next: The wheels of government grind slowly

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