Faz looked up when he heard the thrum of a hovering news helicopter. First thing they’d need to do, if Billy hadn’t done it already, was to get the helicopter the hell out of the area. They badged the officer holding the police log, scribbled their names, badge numbers, and time of their arrival in the log, and ducked beneath yellow-and-black crime scene tape. Most of the officers had congregated around a small playground in the center courtyard of the U-shaped apartment building. The body lay beneath a blue sheet near a green jungle gym. Billy stood talking to one of several uniformed officers but he broke off the conversation when he saw Faz and Del.
“You call in about the helicopter?” Faz asked.
“Yeah,” Billy said, not sounding optimistic his call would do any good. News helicopters could only be fined for being in a police no-fly zone. If the story were big enough, the station would stay and pay the fine.
“Any chance we can argue the apartment is in King County?” Del said.
“I wish,” Billy said.
Some of the streets in South Park were within the King County Sheriff’s jurisdiction, and the running joke between the two agencies was that officers rolled bodies across streets to put them in the other’s jurisdiction. Though he meant it as a joke, Del refrained from smiling. With the union trying out body cameras on their uniformed officers, humor no longer had any place at a crime scene. They’d all be on Zoloft by the end of the year.
Billy adjusted his driving cap, which shielded his shaved head from the sun. “This one could get ugly, fast. The decedent is Monique Rodgers.” He paused, as if the name should mean something to them. “You might have read about her or seen her on the news, advocating against gangs and drugs in South Park.”
“The activist?” Faz said. He recalled something on the news about an African American woman speaking to the city council about drugs and gangs in the South Park community.
“Would-be activist,” Billy said. “She didn’t get all that far.”
“Could be the reason she was shot in broad daylight,” Faz said. “Someone sending a message.”
“Likely,” Billy said.
“I’m assuming someone saw it?” Del asked.
“One would think, wouldn’t he?” Billy said. “I’m told there were half a dozen moms out here with their kids, but so far everyone is doing the see no, hear no, speak no English act.”
“They’re scared,” Faz said.
“Anyone else hurt?” Del asked.
Billy shook his head. “Nothing reported.”
“So then we’re assuming she was the intended victim?” Faz asked the question as he considered two brick pony walls along the sidewalk, which would have made for good cover if two rival gangs had started shooting at one another—South Park was also home to the Crips and to a couple Asian gangs, though in far fewer numbers than the Sureños. If two gangs had opened fire, Rodgers could have been an innocent victim caught in the cross fire.
“We are,” Billy said, “given that no one else was shot, and witnesses said they only heard the one shooter.” He glanced up at the news helicopter, still hovering. “TV is going to play up big the fact that it was broad daylight with kids around.”
“Where’s her family now?” Faz asked.
“Grandmother got the kids out of here and took them into the apartment.” He pointed to a corner of the U-shaped building. “Husband has apparently come home from work and is also with them.”
“Is anyone saying anything?” Faz asked.
Billy shook his head. “We can’t even get confirmation on the number of shots or from what direction they were fired. One woman told the responding officer she thought she heard three bullets coming from over there.” Williams pointed to a corner of the building.
“They find shell casings?” Del asked.
“None,” Billy said.
“So the witness either got it wrong,” Faz said, “or the shooter used a revolver.”
“I got patrol searching for casings,” Billy said. He pointed again to the apartments. “And Anderson-Cooper is going door-to-door.”
Desmond Anderson and Lee Cooper worked out of the B Team. Since theAnderson Cooper had become CNN’s regular nightly news anchor, the detectives in Violent Crimes referred to the two-man detective team in the singular.
“We’re going to need the video unit,” Faz said. “One of the businesses around here might have picked up the shooter fleeing or getting into a car.” The street was mixed-use, with apartment buildings, small homes, and corner stores.
“Already on their way,” Billy said.
“How much did the kids see?” Faz asked.
“All of it,” Billy said.
Faz turned to the sound of trumpets and guitars—Mexican music—coming from the street. A cherry-red, two-door Chevelle with black stripes and gold hubcaps bounced up and down as it drove past the apartment complex.
“Send in the clowns,” Del said.
The passenger had a shaved head and a thin mustache that extended to a goatee. Dark sunglasses hugged his face, giving him fly’s eyes. His right arm, heavily tattooed, hung out the window. The car slowed and the man removed his sunglasses, staring at Faz.
“Little Jimmy,” Faz said. “All grown-up.”
Ten years earlier, Faz had put Little Jimmy’s father in prison. Big Jimmy lasted six months. A rival gang member killed him with a shiv.
Little Jimmy smiled, then he made a gun with his thumb and index finger and took aim at Faz, imitating the kick of the barrel as the gun discharged.