Chicago Warriors: Gary’s Last Stand

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I was on my way home southbound on Pulaski, just crossing over the railroad yards at 71st Street when my cell phone rang. "Hello, this is Pete."

"Pete, Sanela Latarski here."
"Oh hi Sanela, how are you today?"
"Not good," she said. "Do you know where Marilyn is at right now?"

"She's probably on her way home, or on the way to the gym...we just got off shift a bit ago. Why, what's up?"
"Trouble...we need to find her-ASAP. DEA lost their tail on Walker last night, she could be in danger. We've decided to take him down as soon as we locate him; in the meantime we need to ensure that Marilyn is safe."
"Did you try her apartment?"

"Yes...she's not there, but we've got a unit standing by in case she shows."
"What about the gym?" I asked.
"That's Bally's, right?"

"10-4, she's been working out early mornings since the incident."
"Well she hasn't shown yet," Sanela replied.
"What about her workout partner?"
"I don't know anything about that," she said. "Can you call her?"

"No, I don't know her number. But I may know where she lives. Listen, I'm in my car now, I'll head over to where I'm pretty sure she lives and see if I can find her."
"Good. Call me back as soon as you find anything."
"Okay Sanela-keep me in the loop on this."

I didn't know much about Marilyn's workout partner, Kim. I first met her at our barbeque, but in driving Marilyn home once she pointed out an apartment building where she said that Kim lived. It was fairly close to her own apartment, and I was confident that if I saw the building again that I would recognize it. I headed in that direction and said a silent prayer that my partner would be okay.

Marilyn checked her cell phone for messages on her way to the gym. She saw that Kim had left a text message for her. I hope that she's not bailing out of our workout this morning, she thought. Only two weeks to go before the contest; I can't waste any time now, I need to stay focused.

Mar can u pik me up, car trub...the message read. She hit the reply key: on the way. Good, we're still on. She was right around the corner. She pulled in and hopped out, leaving all of her gear locked in her car. She bounded up the steps to the second floor and knocked on Kim's door. Down at the other end of the hall was a woman with a child, obviously headed down to the bus stop. The little girl had a book bag and the mom carried her cup of coffee, drinking it as they went.

All of a sudden the door flew open... Gary stood there angry as a bull that has just seen a red cape. He looked as if the top of his head was about to blow off-his eyes were bloodshot, his normally coiffed hair all askew. Before she knew what was happening, he reached out and grabbed her by the arm pulling her inside. He threw a punch at her, striking her on the side of the head near her temple. She went down hard, falling backwards onto the couch. She was seeing stars and felt woozy; she felt something odd underneath her... Kim! She sat up and saw that her friend was bound and gagged. She had a terrified look in her eyes, which were bruised and swollen. A sock had been stuffed in her mouth to muffle any sounds that she tried to make.

Marilyn turned around to see Gary standing there with a gun pointed at her. "You fuckin' bitch, you dimed me out...said that I raped you? You ruined my life you whore!"
This was bad she thought, he's desperate-irrational. I don't know that I can even reason with him but I have to try. Maybe I can get close enough to get the gun... Wish I had mine with me now; it's not doing me any good in the car. "Gary, what are you doing? Let's talk about're getting way in over your head here. What do you want?

"What do I want? I wanted you, but you were too fuckin' good for me weren't you, with your holier than thou attitude. Too good to give it up after all the time and dough that I spent on you-like you're somethin' special? Well let me tell you somethin', you weren't all that good anyway."

Marilyn's cell began to ring.
"Who is that...who would be callin' you?"
She looked at the caller was Pete. "It's my partner; I'd better answer or he'll be looking for me."
"Go ahead, but remember I've got a gun on both of you."
She opened the phone-"Hi Pete."

"Marilyn, where are you? Sanela called me and said they're taking down Walker today; they had a tail on him but he slipped them last night."

"Oh. Well that's good to hear Pete. Is Beth feeling any better, because it could just be morning sickness?"
"Marilyn....what are you talking about? I said Walker is loose and you may be in danger."

"Okay, I'll see you tonight. Just tell her to say a prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. He'll make sure everything works out. See you later."

I heard her hang up. What just went on-it made no sense...? Why was she talking about Beth and St. Michael? Wait a minute...St. Michael...a prayer to St. Michael? She's in trouble-he's there with her! I pulled around the corner and spotted Marilyn's car in the lot. I looked at the building-this was it, the one that she had pointed out. She said that Kim lived on the second floor, but which apartment?

I called Sanela back and gave my location. It didn't look good; Marilyn wouldn't have acted weird on the phone like that unless she was trying to send me a message. She needed! I got out and went over to the staircase that led to the second floor. I saw a woman walking with a cup of coffee. "Excuse me ma'am." I showed her my ID..."Do you know a woman named Kim, she's a Chicago Firefighter and lives on the second floor?"
"Oh sure, I know her. Her apartment is the first one on the right at the top of the stairs. Is something going on?"

"I'm not sure ma'am...why?
"Well about ten minutes ago a woman was at her door, a good looking woman by the way, very fit if you know what I mean, and it kind of looked like she got yanked into the apartment."

"Thanks. I need you to stay clear right now. But listen...there are going to be some other police officers showing up any minute. A person's life may be in danger. Can you please let them know where I'm at?"

I bolted up the stairs, stopping to listen at the apartment the woman had described. Thankfully the doors in this building were cheap builders grade lumber-thin and easily compromised. My heart was pounding in my ears, but I took a deep cleansing breath and put my ear to the door....

"What did he want?
"Nothing," said Marilyn. "His wife is pregnant and she hasn't been feeling well. He was just telling me that she had morning sickness again-nothing to worry about."
" did good."

"Listen Gary, Kim looks like she's hurting. You knocked her around pretty good. I promise that she won't make any noise, but we have to get that sock out of her mouth, she's having trouble breathing."

"Screw her; she don't know how to listen-just like you."
"Gary I'm telling you, I'm taking that gag out of her mouth whether you like it or not-she's going to suffocate if I don't."
"You wanna get shot?"

Marilyn realized that she was taking a big chance here, but she had to help her friend. "You do what you think you have to do Gary, but I'm not going to sit by while she's suffering."

Marilyn thought to herself that this was an important juncture, a tenuous moment, if he allowed her to remove the sock she may be able to negotiate with him. She turned around and removed the sock...

"Aaaah... Kim let out a sigh of relief and took several deep breaths. "Thank you Marilyn; I was about to black out again. I'm sorry honey; he overpowered me before I knew what was going on."

"Yeah," said Gary, "she's a fighter. You got a tough workout partner there. For a minute I didn't know if I was going to be able to knock her out."

I was able to hear the conversation almost verbatim. Things were worse than I thought...he's got a gun and he's already beaten Kim. This guy is a loose cannon, I didn't know how much longer I could wait for backup to get here. I looked down where I had left the neighbor standing and signaled for her to come up. "I need your help; do you have anything that looks like a toolbox in your apartment?"

"Sure, my husband's got all kinds of stuff."
"I need to borrow it, quick-let's get it."
I went down the hall with her and grabbed a toolbox and hurried back to Kim's apartment. I hope this works, I thought as I knocked on the door... "Maintenance!"
"What the... Gary looked at Kim, "What's that about?"
Without hesitation Kim answered, "The building's getting all new sprinklers; I'm next on the list."
"Send him away," Gary said.

"How am I going to do that I can't even get up off the couch?"

Gary went over and looked through the peep hole in the door. "Go away, we don't need you."
I had to think fast. "I've got to get this work done or I lose my job!"

"What's with this guy?"
I tried a different approach, just wanting to get that door opened. "If you don't want it done, just sign my form and I'll be on my way." I banged on the door again... "C'mon, I've got a lot of work to do today; you've already put this off twice."

"You stay put," Gary told Kim, "and keep your mouth shut! " He looked over at Marilyn, "You just open the door and sign whatever he's got and send him on his way. You try anything and you're dead."

Gary positioned himself behind the door when Marilyn opened it. He signaled with his gun for her to open it. Marilyn grabbed the door handle and opened the door.
"Oh, I thought that you were the woman that lives here," I said. "Is she around?"

Marilyn looked right at me as she answered, her eyes darting to her right, indicating behind the door-or at least I was praying that that was what she meant.
"She's out; I'm watching the apartment for her. Can I sign your sheet?"

"I guess so" I said. Again, Marilyn kept signaling toward the door with her eyes. It was now or never I thought. If I was going to make my move it had to be fast and violent, and it had to be now.

St. Michael the Warrior, be my shield...
I grabbed onto the doorknob and drove my shoulder into the door, following it around to the wall where Walker was standing. The force of my charge crushed him against the wall, causing him to discharge his weapon into the ceiling. In all of the confusion, and the accompanying noise from the gun being fired, Walker was quickly disoriented. That was my chance to seize the momentum. I flung the door shut and grabbed his gun hand at the same time in an attempt to disarm him. He was strong; his arm was like an anatomy chart with gnarled veins protruding from them, taut as a steel cable.

We struggled away from the wall, and I locked my hand on his revolver so that the cylinder would be unable to turn-the hammer continuing to rest on an empty chamber. Marilyn had been knocked to the ground from the force of my entry. She quickly got up and positioned herself behind Walker. As I struggled to control the gun, Marilyn hit him with a couple of hammer strikes to the side of his head, but they were seemingly ineffective. She finally positioned herself behind him and applied a carotid choke hold.

"Hang on Bens...hang on!" I shouted. "I was beginning to tire; I didn't know how much longer I could control this beast. Marilyn was hanging on to her choke hold like a woman possessed. We struggled around the room, Walker carrying us both like we were a couple of little kids being swung around by their father. A few seconds later, I felt him weakening and fighting for air. Marilyn's carotid control was working-he was fighting it but the lack of oxygen to his brain was too much. He went limp and was unconscious before he hit the floor.

"Bens, grab the gun!" I quickly took out a pair of cuffs and rolled this tree trunk of a man onto his stomach. "Give me a hand Bens!" It took two of us to bring his arms together to get the cuffs on. Once we had him secured we both collapsed on top of him.
"Thank you Lord, thank you Jesus!" I shouted.
"Amen!" shouted Marilyn.

"Oh my God Pete, I thought he was going to kill us both!"
I looked over at the couch where Kim was lying, still tied up. I got up to go over and undo her restraints when DEA burst into the room...

"Police! Everybody get down!"
We threw up our hands in compliance, not wanting to give them any reason to shoot. In situations like this where law enforcement officers' lives are on the line, emotions and testosterone kick into overdrive-anything can happen.
"We're cops!" I shouted. "Officers Shannon and Besnon-8th District!"

The agents eased up..."Everybody okay here?"
"Yeah, we're fine. That beautiful woman on the couch needs medical attention. She's a Chicago Firefighter, and she's a hero. Treat her as such."

We got Kim untied and had her sit up on the couch. Marilyn sat next to her and they hugged, rocking back and forth. "Kim, I'm so sorry. I never thought Gary could be like this, what happened?"

"It's a long story," Marilyn said. "He raped me several weeks ago, and I guess he's involved in drugs as well."
"Why didn't you say anything?"
"I couldn't Kim; he was under a sealed indictment. Only a handful of people knew what happened."

"Wow, you are one strong woman. You've been acting like nothing ever happened. I never would have suspected..."
"Believe me, it wasn't easy. I don't think that I could have made it without praying about it and asking Him to give me comfort."

The DEA scooped Walker up off the floor. He looked like he was in a daze, like he never knew what hit him. They marched him out of the apartment and down to the waiting Paddy Wagon. By this time half the District was showing up-all of the supervisors and the District Commander, as well as the news folks. They gave first aid to Kim, but were transporting her to the hospital for follow up. She really took a beating.

"Pete, I'm going to ride with her in the ambulance. She's gone through an awful lot-all because of me."
"Don't start that Bens, none if this is your fault. And besides, the good guys won didn't they?"
"Yeah, I guess you're right."
"And by the way, that was ingenious."

"Inventing that story about Beth when I called and then talking about St. Michael... That's how I made the connection that Walker must have been there with you."
"That's all that I could come up with," she said. "He was standing right there, so I had to watch what I said."
"Well it was definitely the right thing. And incidentally, I'm positive that Michael went through that door with me."

"He must have," she said, "I went flying..."
"Like you had wings?" I added.
"Something like that."

"Hey, where did you learn to apply that carotid control hold so well? Man, you put him out in a heartbeat."
My defensive tactics instructor at the Academy was John Lanata. He made sure that we all knew how to apply it-said it might save our lives one day."
"Thank you Mr. Lanata," I said. "You must have been a star pupil."

"I learned all that I could; I didn't want to waste a minute."
"Shannon...Benson...are you two alright?" The District Commander was assuming control of the crime scene.
"Yes sir, we're fine. A little tired and beat up but we're fine."

"Good. I've got the Major Case Squad enroute to handle the scene. I'll see you two at the station later on. Benson, you get yourself over to the hospital and get that face checked out."
"Yes sir."

"Shannon, why is it that you always seem to wind up in the middle of every ‘shit sandwich' that pops up around here?
"I don't know sir; I guess that I'm just blessed."
"Whatever," he said. "Nice job...both of you. I'm proud to have you both in my command."

We walked down the stairs to the waiting ambulance where Kim was being strapped down for the ride to the ER. Marilyn climbed inside.

"Pete...Marilyn?" said Kim. "Do you think that we could say a prayer of Thanksgiving together?"
"Of course, that's a great idea. Marilyn, do you care to lead us?"

We bowed our heads and Marilyn began... "Dear Father God, we honor you and praise your name. We give you thanks for blessing us today with the tools and strength to defeat The Evil One. Thank you for guidance, for comfort, and for love. We are humbled by it, and thank you for dispatching St. Michael to be our partner in battle, without him we would have surely failed. Strengthen and protect us always as we continue to put You first in all that we do. In Jesus' name we pray...Amen."

      Next: Being Grateful

Previous: Domestic Problems

John Wills spent 2 years in the U.S. Army before serving 12 years with the Chicago Police Department (CPD). He left the CPD to become an FBI Special Agent, working organized crime, violent crime, and drugs.  John Wills is an author of Chicago Warriors: Midnight Battles in the Windy City published by

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