Authors: C.L. Swinney
Moments after Pedro saw this, he felt a firm grip on his shoulder and he quickly swung around with his firearm in his good arm. He saw the man had a gun in his hand and a police officer shield hanging from a necklace around his neck. The man appeared to be screaming at him but he couldn’t hear a thing as a result of the deafening nearby gunfire. With the disabling ringing in his ears and confusion, Pedro slowly began fading away.
The man continued to yell at Pedro while easily disarming him with a quick hand-strike to his wrist causing the firearm to drop from his grip. The man quickly disabled the weapon and threw it into the middle of the street. Pedro was in tremendous pain and truly had no idea what the hell had just happened.
He faintly heard the man yell, “Off duty officer!” He calmed down as he realized the man was there to help him, not kill him.
In the distance, police cars were driving all over and sirens dominated the scene. Pedro was slowly getting his hearing back as he thought about his wife and child. He wondered if he would survive his bullet wound and leg injury.
He grabbed the elbow of the man who had helped him and asked, “Who are you?”
The man chuckled and replied, “My name is Bill Dix and you just cost my partner and I another damn vacation!”
Pedro whispered, “Thanks Bill Dix,” and lost consciousness.
Raphael Sanchez glanced down at his Breitling watch and snorted in disgust. It was five minutes past the time the hired hit men, a group his generation called Enforcers, should have called him. This particular group had been used several times before and had always followed orders precisely. They always called Raphael on a throw away phone to report the results of the ordered hit. The Enforcers knew not to be late. Raphael’s frustration turned to anger as he realized he was going to have to report to his boss, José Calderon, and he had nothing of consequence to provide.
Sanchez walked into the living room and poured a large glass of expensive scotch. As he scrolled through the contacts of his primary cell phone to retrieve José Calderon’s number, he flipped on the television.
Raphael calmly sipped his scotch and noticed every major news channel in the San Diego area was reporting an officer involved shooting with three people dead including suspected hired hit men. The incident had occurred near Temecula. For Raphael, this type of chaos and killing was nothing new to him; however, as the story came to a conclusion something caught his attention.
One reporter mentioned that a man, who appeared to be the target of the intended murder, was actually rescued and was being treated for serious injuries at an undisclosed location.
Raphael slammed his drink on the table as his cell phone began to vibrate and ring. The incoming caller ID read, “Gringo,” which was code for José Calderon.
Hesitantly, Sanchez answered the phone.
José Calderon simply said, “Location number three in thirty minutes.”
Raphael was wise not to respond. The irritation in Calderon’s voice was stinging.
Before hanging up Calderon added, “Don’t bother to run Raphael, we know you’re home and we have your brother.”
Upon hearing this Raphael slammed his cell phone on the ground and began to curse at Calderon.
Miami Dade Police Department Narcotics sergeants Steve Petersen and Bill Dix were smack in the middle of an officer involved shooting three thousand miles from home. The scene was somewhat surreal as one moment the two detectives were driving south toward San Diego to catch a Padres game and next they ended up in a fire fight, taking the life of several suspects, and saving a man.
Petersen checked the vital signs of the two shooters laying next to the SUV while Dix checked on the third shooter. All three men were dead.
Dix yelled over to Petersen, “The locals will be here any second. Make sure your badge is showing and toss your weapon in the middle of the street.”
Just as Dix finished the statement three patrol cars came to a skidding halt right in front of him as he was tossing his gun to the center of the intersection. They jumped out of their cars and were screaming at them to get down and to keep their hands where they could see them.
Petersen was naturally loud and his adrenaline made his voice even louder.
Petersen yelled, “We’re cops!” We’re cops!”
Dix followed suit, “We’re not armed, and we’re cops! We’re cops!”
Numerous other police cars came pouring into the area as well as K-9 officers and a police helicopter. Dogs were barking, the local officers pointed their guns at Dix and Petersen, local residents were arguing with the responding officers, people filled the streets with their cell phones recording everything, and the loud public address system of the low altitude Sheriff’s Office helicopter was demanding everyone to go back inside.
Dix had been in several hairy situations working undercover for many years but based on the facts in front of him, he wasn’t sure how the local officers were going to deal with him. One thing was clear, the more they all argued the longer it took for the two downed officers to get medical attention. Dix decided this would be his out.
Dix complied with the orders of the officers as they slowly moved toward him and Petersen.
He yelled out and motioned with his head toward a patrol car, “You have two guys hit behind that patrol car, and they need attention.” He was very careful not to move his hands.
Petersen figured out what Dix was doing and was close enough to read the name plates of the two officers lying on the street.
Petersen yelled out, “Officer Smith and Officer Billings are right here but they need medics ASAP.”
The two officers were in serious pain and losing blood. One of the officers winced and sat up briefly. He was able to describe Petersen and Dix as law enforcement officers by saying, “They’re blue!” before falling over.
The advancing officers ordered life flight medi-vac for the wounded officers and handcuffed Dix and Petersen based on the fact they really had no idea what exactly had unfolded prior to their arrival.
Once Dix and Petersen were detained, the officers searched them quickly. Dix and Petersen had their police credentials in their pockets. The lieutenant on scene made a few phone calls to verify their identity. Within a few minutes, Dix and Petersen were un-handcuffed, given back their off-duty firearms, credentials, and a pat on the shoulder for being treated like criminals.
A quick survey of the scene revealed three shooters were dead and two officers were in critical condition. Life flight had just taken off with the local officers as Dix assisted with getting the suspected victim into an ambulance.
Dix looked over at the sergeant standing nearby, “Send two officers with this guy, if he wakes up, he may give us something to work with.”
Whoever you are buddy, you gotta be important for all this attention
Local law enforcement units were able to calm the local residents and establish a crime scene perimeter with yellow caution tape. Media packed the entire perimeter with cameras, satellites, and other equipment. Most of the officers were too busy doing something to notice them inching closer and closer into the crime scene trying to get a story.
Based on local protocol for officer involved shootings, the captain from the San Diego Sheriff’s Office told Dix and Petersen they needed to stay in town, turn over their weapons, and would be on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into the shooting.
Neither of them protested, but Petersen was clearly upset about change of events.
Petersen said to Dix, “This is crazy, we’re doing our jobs and now we’re on a time out.” Petersen noticed Dix kept looking at a police canine and wasn’t paying attention to him.
Dix tried to calm his old friend, “Look Steve, we’d be doing the same thing back home. As usual, we are knee deep in red tape and a pretty wild crime scene. Let’s just try to be glass half full type of guys for once.”
Petersen knew Dix was right and nodded. “All right, but can you at least look at me when I’m talking to you. What’s so damn important over there?”
Dix motioned to Petersen to be quiet and watch the pacing canine. Every time the dog walked by the Mercedes the victim was in, it paused and appeared to alert to something in the car. The handler was too busy working the shooting to notice his canine partner was trying to tell him narcotics or some other contraband was in the Mercedes.
Petersen and Dix walked over to the canine handler and told the handler what they were observing. The handler looked at them skeptically and took his partner over to the Mercedes. The canine alerted to the right rear quarter panel area of the victim’s car.
Dix noticed a small corner of thick plastic sticking out of what was left of the right rear wheel well area. Both Petersen and Dix had seen plastic like that before, but it hadn’t contained narcotics, it contained bulk cash.
Dix chuckled as Petersen figured out where this was headed. Dix never could pass up an opportunity to rib him.
Dix laughingly said, “Well, since we’re on admin leave, we don’t have to write the search warrant to get the cash out of this car.”
“You know what, that’s the best thing I’ve heard all day,” replied Petersen as he shook his head and grunted.
The canine handler listened to them messing with each other and kindly volunteered to write the search warrant. He felt slightly obligated given the fact he was a little rough when he handcuffed Petersen. He also felt sort of bad for them because they obviously saved three lives during the broad daylight gun battle, and now they were forced on an administration time out.
Three hours later the car was searched at the secure Sheriff’s Office warehouse. Wrapped within the vehicle’s rear quarter panel, trunk lining, and rear bumper was thirty million dollars. Dix and Petersen looked at each other and shook their heads. The locals saw large cash seizures working so close to the border, but the circumstances surrounding this seizure were like nothing any of them had seen before. Brutal killers hunted people for money in Mexico, not San Diego.
A local lieutenant, John Mincey, put his arms around their shoulders and said, “Things just got more interesting fellas. I’d unpack your suitcases because you two are going to need to stick around for awhile.”
Raphael Sanchez frantically dialed his brother’s cell phone repeatedly while driving to the pre-determined location to meet with José Calderon. There was no answer. Raphael’s eyes filled with tears as he understood now that his brother, his only friend, was likely dead or being tortured by Calderon. Emotions overwhelmed him as he realized it was his own lies that most likely caused his brother’s death.
Raphael drove cautiously into the parking lot of the abandoned warehouse in La Mesa. He noticed a sniper placed on the roof of a building and two black Land Rovers parked near the front of the warehouse. As Raphael cleared the gate, he noticed it shut behind him and a large semi truck with trailer pulled up and blocked the gate. Even if he wanted to turn back and run, it was too late now. It didn’t really matter because he wasn’t leaving without his brother.
Normally, Calderon would greet Raphael prior to entering the building. This time no one met him. With shaking legs and an unsettled mind, Raphael had difficulty willing himself inside because he was mortified as to what was waiting for him.
He entered the warehouse and saw a single wooden chair in the center of the floor. Other than the chair, the warehouse was completely empty. He wondered what terrible fate awaited him. He finally cleared the doorway into the warehouse and was immediately struck in the head by a blunt object. His unconscious body slumped and fell to the concrete floor making a sick thud sound.
Petersen and Dix were driving back to their hotel when Dix got a phone call from Miami Dade Police Department lieutenant, Michael Pierce.
Pierce said, “Dix, what the hell are you two up to? I just got my ass handed to me from the captain about two of his men, sergeants no less, getting into a shoot out while supposedly off-duty and on vacation.” Pierce was ticked off and needed someone to vent to.
Dix placed the phone on speaker mode allowing Petersen to share in the ass chewing. He normally would jab the new lieutenant, a man he trained and respected, but decided to keep things straight with him.
There’s a time and place to screw with people, this wasn’t one of them,
“Mike, I can’t really explain how we ended up in this mess. Steve and I were driving toward Pet Co. Park to watch the Padres and literally right in front of us we saw a SUV chasing a Mercedes. The SUV pushed the Mercedes into a telephone pole and the occupants of the SUV began shooting at two local officers and the driver of the Mercedes,” replied Dix. Even as he relayed what happened he knew Pierce wouldn’t believe the story and it sounded a little fishy to him too.
“You expect me to believe that load of crap?” Pierce fired back.
Petersen jumped in, “It’s true LT. We had to act and try to save the officers and the guy in the Mercedes. Dix used suppression fire and put one of the three shooters down with a head shot. We continued to fire at the bad guys until I was able to take the remaining shooters out with my sniper rifle I had picked up from my brother in Temecula.”