Thursday, August 11, 2005


The pickup raced out of downtown, onto Speer, and then turned right onto Kalamath. It then careened left and crossed Santa Fe Boulevard against the light forcing a passing taxi to slow down. Once into the shadows, the driver killed the lights and slowed to a stop. In perfect synch, another man in a similar pickup turned on his lights continuing towards Speer Boulevard going fast. The taxi driver who had slowed down saw that pickup race away, assuming it was the same one.

Ten minutes earlier, the departing driver had withdrawn money at an ATM in a nearby grocery store and bought a lottery ticket at the customer service desk, which he had visited regularly over the past two months for this purpose, where he told the clerk a particularly crude joke. Two minutes ago, he’d received, as he expected, a call on his wireless phone informing him that a break in was in progress at his University Hills liquor store. The bullets in the .45 caliber handgun, for which he had a valid concealed weapons permit and a receipt from his shooting practice session earlier that afternoon, would not match the 22mm ammunition used in the incident downtown. The police responding to the alarm system call would find a broken window and a broken an empty cash box when they arrived. Early the following morning, the departing driver, whose face would not quite match the description being circulated by police, would leave a long interrogation at police headquarters with a ticket for driving 80 miles an hour in a 45 mile per hour zone and a form to make a police report about the break in to his shop.

Back at the handoff point, the pickup rolled quietly into a body shop, the garage door with white washed windows closing behind them. The shooter in the back of the pickup jumped out and deposited his rifle inside a large shop vacuum. The passenger took a license plate from a shelf and used it to replace a license plate on the pickup, which itself belonged to an unknown par patron’s BMW convertible. The passenger dumped the stolen license plate into a large barrel of paint remover and replaced the lid on the barrel.

The driver was already in the body shop bathroom, having and flushing the hair down the toilet. The man from the back of the pickup joined him. Then, they both cut each other’s hair in near silence. The man who had been in the passenger seat had worn a paper bag over his head during the shooting and getaway and didn’t try to vary his appearance.

The driver took off his shirt, removed the football pads he had under them, stashing them in a gym bag in an employee locker in the shop, and changed into white, paint covered overalls that were in the same locker. The driver then removed the pickup hatch, tossing it into a scrap metal heap in the back, taped over the bullet holes in the side of the pickup, sprayed a first coat of blue paint over the existing white paint, and covered it all with thick plastic tarp. He, then left in his late model Ford sedan, heading straight for the mountain cabin that was his destination. No one would notice him missing during the next two weeks during his planned bow hunting vacation on the Western Slope.

The shooter replaced his clothes with a security guard’s uniform, complete with helmet that hid his hair length from his fellow employees, and headed to the alleyway where his jeep waited.

The passenger, who had slipped into the office to write a note, left last, dropping the letter in a mailbox on his walk home mixed in with a stack of bills he was paying. When the police knocked on his door the next morning, he would admit seeing a white pickup race by his shop, while he was working late on paper work and one of his employees was finishing up a job before leaving on vacation. He would motion with his hands that no vehicle matching the description of the car they wanted to know if he had seen was in his shop.

The shooter would have a time card from his employer’s machine showing that he had arrived on time to his solitary night shift job as a parking lot security guard, a half an hour before the shooting took place. The mechanical time clock would shown no trace that its mechanism had been tampered with and the videotapes of the parking lot would have been reused several times by the time the investigators asked for them, a week later.

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