Keys

Chapter 20

Less than three hours after Healey relayed word about the two guns dumped in the Bay off Telegraph Hill, they got the call at the Oakland office that the guns had been found and were now in the lab at 850 Bryant. They had been identified as brand new short-barreled S&W M29’s; phone calls were now being made to every gun shop in San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Alameda counties.

On the minus side, both Sampson and Johnson continued to refuse to name their accomplice, no matter how many threats hung over their heads. The cops couldn’t tell if their silence was due to loyalty or fear; they suspected fear.

It had been determined that the ‘rich white boy’ did not attend Oakland High; officers were busy contacting Oakland private school principals to see if anyone could shed some light on what little knowledge they had of this mysterious third party.

Steve, Elliott and Stewart were working together coordinating the information coming in about gun sales. It was Elliott that first found the link: a gun shop in Livermore and another in Palo Alto both had recorded purchases of short-barreled S&W M29’s only one day apart, to someone named Daniel Morrison. Though the guns had been paid for in cash, both shop owners had done their due diligence in recording the purchasers name and address.

However it didn’t take long to learn that while the name was credible and there were a number of Daniel Morrisons to check out, the address was definitely fictitious.

Members of this new, larger task force fanned out – to private school offices for meetings with principals, to track down the various Daniel Morrisons and to the Livermore and Palo Alto gun shops. Soon after another gun shop was identified, this one in Millbrae.

It was early in the evening when several teams of detectives returned to the office, some with copies of private school yearbooks, others with detailed descriptions of the gun buyer from the shop owners and staffs. What had stuck out for them, they said, was the young age of the purchaser and the fact that he paid in cash; but his bona fides seemed in order, he was a polite, well-dressed young man, and no one suspected anything amiss.

Coordinating all this information, Steve, Elliott and Stewart sat with the others and began poring over the yearbooks, highlighting potential candidates that warranted further inquiry.

It was getting dark by then, and pizzas and gyros had been brought in; the office was now littered with pizza boxes, paper bags, used napkins and soda cans, as well as a couple of dozen very tired but very determined police officers.

Just before 10 p.m., a short list of potential ‘candidates’ had been compiled; there were only eight names on the list. Stewart sat back and stretched, then looked at the other men in the room. “Well, gentlemen, any suggestions?”

Gil Rountree sighed loudly before he began. “Paul, Dan and I think this kid’ll crack, if we hit him just the right way. So far, because we haven’t gotten him to rat out that third kid, he thinks he’s in the driver’s seat.” He paused for a second. “I say we make an 8-pack out of these kids,” he gestured at the short list photos, “bring it in there and drop it on the table in front of him. I don’t think he’s gonna be able to hide his reaction when he sees that we have his accomplice in the mix.”

Stewart nodded thoughtfully, then noticed that most of the others in the room were doing the same. He looked at Steve. “What do you think?”

“I think it’s brilliant. Right now, it’s the only thing we have, right? I say go for it; what do we have to lose?”

Stewart nodded again, this time more emphatically. “Let’s do it.”

# # # # #

Twenty minutes later, Rountree walked into the interrogation room with the ‘8-pack’ in his hand. Romero was already there, sitting silently opposite the now-exhausted and unresponsive Sampson.

“Robert!” Rountree yelled and the young man’s head snapped up suddenly, cringing slightly, his hands coming up defensively. “Wake up, son, we’re not finished with you yet.”

Glancing quickly at Romero to make sure he was ready, Rountree tossed the photo array on the table. Sampson’s gaze travelled to it unhurriedly, sliding over the photos without interest until suddenly his eyes widened slightly and he hesitated almost imperceptively. But the seasoned detectives had seen it and now they pounced.

“Recognize anybody?” Rountree asked quietly.

It took a couple of seconds for Sampson to raise his head from the array. “What?” he mumbled.

“I said, recognize anybody? Like this guy,” he said quietly, pointing at the photo that Sampson had hesitated over.

“No, sir,” Sampson said sullenly, leaning back and folding his arms. “I don’t recognize nobody.”

It was Romero turn to smile. “Sure you do, you little piece of crap. And now, because of you, we’ve got your accomplice.” He stood up and started towards the door. “Thanks, B-Bob, you’ve been a prince.”

As Romero opened the door, Rountree turned to follow him, then looked back at the now terrified Sampson. “You know, you’re probably better off staying in here right now – there’s a lot of guys in the other room who’s partners you and your friends shot. And I’m not sure Dan and I can keep them ‘under control’, if you know what I mean.” With a mirthless smile, he left the room.

# # # # #

Stewart had a closer look at the photo Romero pointed out. He hesitated a few seconds before turning to one of his detectives. “Peter, give Andre a call; tell him we need him here right away.”

Stewart faced the San Francisco detectives. “Andre Cavallero is our ADA; I want him to start drafting a warrant. Steve, you might want to get your ADA over here right now as well. We’re gonna have to move fast on this, and I want to make sure all our i’s are dotted and our t’s are crossed. This is not going to be an easy one.”

Stewart showed the photo to Coleman, whose face went white. “Ah, shit, it would be him.”

At the blank stares from the SF cops, Stewart elaborated. “Gentlemen, this here is Walter Annenberg the Third, scion of one of the wealthiest and most politically connected families in Oakland. They have more money than every member of both our departments put together. They are gonna lawyer-up faster than we can blink, so I think our best bet right now, and I will confer with Andre on this, is to go for a search warrant first, then go for the arrest warrant when we have more concrete evidence.”

“Jerry, Bob,” Stewart addressed his colleagues, “let’s get SWAT in on this, talk to Martin. After I meet with Andre, and if he agrees we have enough to get a search warrant, I want to move on this right away, even if it’s 3 or 4 this morning. I do not want this little asshole to find out in some way that we are interested in him and have him disappear. If Andre thinks we have enough for the warrant, I want to get the house surrounded as soon as possible, discreetly of course, until we have the paper in hand.

“John, Steve, Jack, all of you guys, we want you in on this too, of course; this is more your case than ours, it just happens to be on our turf.”

The San Francisco detectives nodded appreciatively. Steve hooked a thumb over his shoulder. “I’m gonna call our ADA, get him over here.”

# # # # #

San Francisco ADA Gerald O’Brien, Oakland ADA Andre Cavellero, Captain Paul Stewart and Lieutenant John Yu had holed up in Stewart’s office, painstakingly going over every detail that the task force had cobbled together over the past twelve hours. Everyone was well aware of the gravity of the situation, and the need to make sure that every detail was checked and doublechecked, every duck was in a row, before they even thought of taking their request to a judge.

A list of police friendly Alameda County judges had been compiled; they also needed one who would not object to being roused in the wee small hours of the morning. But because of the gravity of this particular case, no one thought that any of the selected judges would take issue.

Haseejian took the opportunity to sidle up to Steve, who was sitting at a desk reading a file. “Hey, kiddo,” he began quietly as he pulled a chair closer and sat, “it’s gonna be a couple of hours at least until those guys come out of there with a request for the warrant. And then we gotta get it signed.” He glanced at his watch. “Why don’t you take one of the cars and go pay Mike a visit? Just so you can, you know, ease your mind a bit before all this shit hits the fan.”

Steve looked at his own watch, giving Haseejian’s words serious consideration. He took a deep breath then nodded. “Yeah, yeah, I’d like that,” he said softly but hesitantly.

“Look,” Haseejian said quickly, “give me the number of the hospital. You go spend some time with Mike, and I’ll make sure I call in plenty of time for you get back here when all this goes down. What do you say?”

Steve thought it over for a bit and then nodded. “That sounds good. Look, I better tell Captain Stewart –“

“You go ahead, I’ll tell the Captain. And, I’ll be discreet,” he added quickly.

“Thanks,” Steve said as he stood.

Haseejian took his arm. “You give Mike our best, okay?”

Steve smiled warmly. “You bet. Thanks, Norm.”

# # # # #

Steve stepped off the elevator on the fifth floor. It was just after one in the morning; the lights in the hallway were dimmed, the sounds muted.

As Steve approached the nurse’s station, a middle-aged woman glanced up in his direction then started slightly. “I’m sorry, sir,” she said quietly but firmly, “there are no visitors allowed at this time of night.”

Reluctantly, Steve fished his star out of his pocket and held it out. “I’m here to see Lieutenant Michael Stone.”

The nurse’s expression changed instantly. “Oh, yes, you must be Inspector Keller?” At his nod, she continued, “I’m afraid the lieutenant’s no longer on this floor. He was moved to Intensive Care earlier today. Let me call Dr. Peters and have him meet you –“

As she reached for the phone, the inspector turned quickly and disappeared back down the corridor towards the elevators.

# # # # #

Steve slammed the swinging door to the ICU open, covering ground as quickly as he could without breaking into a run. His eyes rapidly scanned the cubicle numbers, his mouth tightly closed, breathing rapidly and furiously through his nose as he fought to control his anger.

He found the number he was looking for and slid to a stop. He shut his eyes for a few seconds as he struggled to calm down, then he stepped into the doorway and froze. Almost immediately there was a presence at his side and a hand on his arm. He turned his head and met Dr. Peters’ eyes directly and defiantly.

Before Steve could say anything, Peters said quickly, “He made me promise I wouldn’t call you.” The doctor saw the cop deflate slightly and catch his breath. “He wanted you to be able to concentrate on your job.”

Steve looked back at the bed, pulled his arm from Peters grasp, and moved deeper into the room. Even with the pounding of his own blood in his ears, he was acutely aware of the whoosh, click of the ventilator. Biting his lower lip, he reached out to lay a shaking hand on the top of his unconscious partner’s head, stroking his hair gently as he collapsed onto the chair with a barely suppressed whimper.


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