Inside the Western Division police precinct in the Mission Valley area of San Diego, a bulletin board listed the highlights of the day. Most investigations related to drug operations, another handful to petty crime. That Saturday, the majority of the precinct’s officers were out on patrol, and the only pair of detectives still working at the precinct were Ivory Godwit and Cliff Gold. Of these two, Ivory was trained locally by the academy back in the early years of the first decade of the new century, and she had seen her fair share of crime. Cliff had moved to San Diego from New York and never looked back. The precincts there were dirty and constantly full of perpetrators. The difference in quality of life in San Diego was enormous, and his wife was so happy. Initially the move brought problems and feelings of regret, particularly involving being so far from family, but adjusting to San Diego was easy—no hurricanes, no snowstorms, no traffic, no noise at night, a real backyard, miles of beautiful canyons to hike…the pluses added up. But for all the California healthy living, Cliff’s genetics prevailed: he developed the same body he would have had he stayed back in Brooklyn. Too many carbohydrates plus beer made for a large stomach and flaccid overall body. Being a detective didn’t help, because there were no physical requirements. He still had a heavy New York accent, even though it had been sixteen years since he’d relocated.
They heard the buzzer of the silent alarm and immediately looked at their computers, identifying it as the alarm for Quayles Jewels. The usually closed door to the captain’s office swung open and Captain Brent Argus looked around.
“Cliff and Ivory, go to Quayles Jewels and see what’s up,” Brent ordered. “It is a silent alarm but we are calling all cars. Hurry and report back to me.”
“Yes, sir,” Cliff said, grabbing his car keys and badge.
Cliff always took off his badge while at his desk; it bothered his ever-growing waistline. And turning fifty was not helping his metabolism, either. He looked at Ivory, and his look was encouraging her to hurry up. Ivory was not off her butt yet, but stood immediately upon seeing his gaze.
“Come on, Ivory, somebody could be in danger!” Brent urged.
“I just know it’s a false alarm again,” Ivory said.
“Well, let’s hope so,” Cliff said.
With that, they left the office to speed off to Quayles in their unmarked black Chrysler 300. The precinct office had a Gaines Street address, but most of it was actually on Friars Road, the same road on which Quayles was located. Exactly eight minutes away.
“This is not what I was expecting this morning,” Ivory said.
“Yep. Me either.” Cliff responded. “You think this is a holdup?”
“I am not sure. It’s kind of early to go about robbing a jewelry store.”
“Now that you say that…It is rare.” Cliff swirled past slow cars.
Cliff drove fast—but not too fast—and from the moment the silent alarm hit the precinct to their arrival at Quayles Jewels would take exactly ten minutes. Ivory hated Cliff’s driving and, come to think of it, the driving of all of her former partners, as well. Cliff drove slow and steady and nothing like a California driver. Ivory was a native and drove fast, and always above the speed limit as if her time was too precious to waste inside a car. Her speeding was probably genetic, or simply a factor of the large distances between places in spread-out San Diego. She was the baby of three siblings in a home with no police ancestry. Both her mother and father disagreed with her career choice, but sometime in her early childhood, maybe while watching Law and Order, she had made up her mind. She would not allow anyone to take her dream away from her.
When they arrived at the store, Ivory could see that there were no signs of panic outside.
“Obviously no one is aware inside that there is trouble. Or it is a false alarm. Head into the parking lot and let’s go in,” Ivory said.
“Roger that,” Cliff said.
The car pulled up to the sidewalk, but before making the left turn into the parking area, they both heard a familiar noise coming from a distance that unsettled them. A police siren was approaching. Ivory snapped the radio immediately.
“This is 2-A-13, this is 2-A-13, Central come in,” Ivory said into the radio.
“This is Central, come in 13.” The speaker was male.
“We requested a 211S on the Quayles Jewels approach. A patrol is fast approaching with a siren!”
Ivory couldn’t believe that some rookie would mess the approach. They moved slowly into the parking lot, driving around back to the main door to the huge jewelry store. The Quayles building was a two-story structure that looked like a very tall single-story building because of its surrounding double-height column structure. The brick columns reached high up, transforming into arches, and stood on three sides of the building, leaving the fourth side for an outdoor, open-air hallway. The parking wrapped around the back and side, and the store’s two facades sported business logos that faced Friars and Frazee roads. The building was impressive for an independent jewelry store. No suspicious vehicle or people were visible outside the store’s perimeter, and customers were exiting calmly, making Ivory and Cliff feel the alarm might have been false.
“All cars, all cars approaching Friars Road, 211, please turn off your sirens!” The male voice broadcast loudly from their radio. “This is code S. I repeat, code S. No sirens.”
The siren stopped. And then they could see the police car arrive at the lot, going fast. Ivory was so angry she leapt out of her car, flashed her badge at the rookies, then approached them, tapping on their window.
“Thanks for ruining a silent approach,” she said. “Please move your vehicle to that spot there and wait until we call for backup. This might be a false alarm, and until we assess the situation, just back off and stay vigilant. My partner and I are going in.”
“Yes, ma’am,” the officer said.
The police car backed up onto the side of the parking service road. Ivory walked back and motioned Cliff to join her. About eighty feet from the front door, Ivory stopped Cliff to assess the situation and make a plan.
At that moment the two main doors of the Quayles Jewels store swung open and many frenzied pigeons flew at great speeds out of the store, followed and surrounded by a handful of customers in shock and awe. Feathers hung in the air after the birds disappeared into the sky. They moved at high speed to the left of Ivory and Cliff, then turned immediately south. One or two birds almost hit Ivory, and she ducked. They moved erratically and fluttered coming out of the building. The people all moved slowly toward their cars, and neither Ivory, Cliff, nor the uniformed officers later recalled seeing the blond man in a dark suit who walked directly away from the entry doors and through the hedge that divided the Quayles parking area from the adjacent office building.
“What in the world!” Ivory said.
Cuco, the Mexican-American security guard, came out moving his hands around and shaking off feathers. He was at the entry door where all thirty-four pigeons had funneled out and was the victim of the most feathers.
“Let’s go in,” Ivory said as she sprinted to the open front door.
Cuco walked back inside, and he was polite as Ivory walked in. He was cluelessly unaware that she was a cop and thought her a new client. The remaining patrons and the staff inside were stunned and surprised at having had so many birds in the building. Everyone was shocked and talking about what had just happened. Cuco had opened the doors to let customers out and to allow the pigeons to exit, because the birds had seemed afraid.
“What happened?” Ivory asked him, flashing her badge.
“I don’t know, suddenly the store was full of pigeons and customers began to scream, and so I opened the door to let them out. They flew away and now you come in? Is there a problem, officer?” The armed guard asked.
“Close these doors and don’t let anyone out. Understood?” Ivory commanded.
Cliff closed the doors and the guard helped him.
“Lock them. Is there another way out?” Cliff asked the guard.
“Only in the rear, but it is alarmed,” the guard replied. “So it must be closed.”
“Stay here; we will need to take statements from everybody,” Cliff said.
Ivory went to the back of the store and found Savanna trying to open the manager’s office, which was closed firmly. She moved the doorknob but the door was shut.
“What is it?” Cliff asked Ivory loudly from across the store.
“It’s a 211 in progress! Go out there and get help from those officers; you need to stop everyone who left the building! Now!”
Cliff was a bit shocked by being ordered around by Ivory, but she was right. He ran immediately for the front door and crashed into it. The guard had locked it.
“Open this door.”
“Just open it!”
The guard opened it.
“Now, don’t let anybody out. Capisce?”
“Only let police in and out, nobody else. OK?”
Cliff screamed at the two officers and looked around. He saw a couple starting their car and backing up to leave. He ran at them screaming. “Police, stop. Police, stop!”
They kept going but needed to stop before merging into Friars Road, where they would be gone for good. Cliff ran and became winded almost immediately as they merged into traffic. He took his cell phone out and clicked an image of the car and its plates as a last resort. Another car was behind him trying to get out onto Friars Road and Cliff was blocking it. He did not move to address the driver from the side, fearing he would drive off. He took out his revolver, pointed it at the driver, and screamed at him to get out of the car.
Meanwhile, Ivory pushed at the closed office door. She could feel something heavy was blocking it. Behind her were the floor manager, a man in his forties, and Savanna. Not being able to open the door, Ivory turned to Savanna.
“What happened?” Ivory asked.
“The pigeons flew all over the store and we all were shocked and looking at them. They flew all around until Cuco, the door guard, opened the doors and they flew out. It was a spectacle!” Savanna said.
Ivory looked at her as if this information were useless.
“They all flew out of here,” the manager said.
“And you are?” Ivory said.
“I am Robert White, the manager. The floor manager.”
“Do me a favor, Bob, and see if you can push this door open.”
As Bob pushed hard the door began to budge a little. It wasn’t locked but a heavy object was blocking it. When it revealed about a half inch of space Bob peeked inside and could see that it was a chair. He pushed again.
The muffled grunt with a clear no was heard, now that the door was open.
“Mr. Quayle, is that you?” Bob asked.
“Mmm-hmm,” Elliot responded from behind the door.
“If I keep pushing, maybe I can help?”
“Why, what is it? Are the other people in there with you?” Ivory questioned.
“Mmm-hmm,” Elliot answered, his voice still muffled.
“This is 13 calling Central, we need backup. Yes, SWAT. Over,” Ivory spoke on her radio and then turned to the floor. “Everybody back up! Clear this area now!”
Ivory moved everybody back behind the counters and she assumed the position with her gun behind the counter for cover. The door to Elliot’s office was now a dangerous site.
“Everybody to the other side of the store.”
Savanna and Bob moved to the south side of the store where all the people were. Cliff entered, having left the other two officers outside with the three customers they’d stopped from leaving. The situation was escalated to a “211 in progress,” with the perpetrators still inside. He touched his Kevlar vest beneath his shirt just to make sure it was there. He held his gun up, and all the customers and staff watched him as he moved past them toward the rear and the manager’s office. He looked at the people as they stared at him and realized the situation was far from optimal.
“Everybody get down, on your bellies,” Cliff ordered.
“You can’t keep us in here,” a man said.
“Yes, let us out. What if they start shooting!” a woman cried.
Cliff decided to opt for the safety of what could become more hostages. He looked at Ivory and motioned for her to keep an eye on the manager’s door. Then he faced the group of people. At a distance, sirens converged, and he knew he could handle this.
“Everybody, we are going to exit the store and go to the parking lot on the left. Nobody, nobody is to run or try to escape. You are all considered suspects at this point, and I need your patience and cooperation. Understood?” Cliff said.
They all nodded. Cliff looked at the guard and motioned for him to open the door. He did, and a dozen people left the building, including Savanna and Bob White as well as all the customers and the rest of the employees. Cuco the guard also left, and Cliff used him to help with the crowd. Outside, the three other customers and the policemen stood looking at them.
“Get police tape and make an area to hold these people. We need to clear them before they can go home. Start by taking their information, and make sure you see ID—don’t just take their word for it. Any one of these people could be a suspect. Capisce?” Cliff ordered.
Just then about six officers arrived at the same time. Some with weapons drawn.
“We will wait for the SWAT team. I need you to hold these people here in a safe area and secure the perimeter. You two go to the rear and make sure nobody leaves the building. Keep an eye an all doors and windows. If you need more officers, get them.”
Cliff then entered the building and went to his partner’s side. The front doors to the Quayles store were left open.