Chicago Warriors: Sal…I’m Hit!

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My biology class today left my head swimming, maybe because I just wasn't able to focus on the material. I was thinking about getting back on the Tac Team, and realizing how much more freedom that assignment offers cops like me that really love working the street.

To be able to work the entire 8th District, rather than having to stay within the boundaries of one's beat is the best job ever. I was excited as well about Beth coming home tomorrow...we needed some time together to heal our wounds and repair our relationship. God had given me a gift when he brought her into my life, and I was going to be thankful each day from this moment forward.

I got home and had a quick snack of yogurt and a bran muffin, then headed for the bedroom to grab some sleep before it was time for work. Life was good...

Beth couldn't believe her good fortune. The group that she was to present to on Friday, had made another commitment for the same time slot, and therefore couldn't be there as agreed upon earlier. She called her supervisor in Chicago and got permission to leave early. She would be home tonight instead of Friday night. Her flight would get her back to Chicago around 7:30 pm, which meant that she could be home around eight. Hopefully Pete would be napping in preparation for work that night. If she played her cards right, Pete would be in for a big surprise.

Several hours later, Beth eased into their driveway. Not wanting to make any noise, she didn't pull into the garage. Pete liked sleeping with a "sound machine" on to drown out any distraction that would interrupt his sleep. But Beth wasn't taking any chances. She quietly entered through the front door, and went to the guest bedroom where she dropped her luggage. She used the bathroom in there to undress and freshen up, and then she crept into their bedroom.

Pete was sleeping like a baby, unaware that she was in the room. Gazing at her husband, she paused a moment to reflect on what God had given her. This man had devoted his life to her; she would never again hurt him. She pulled back the covers and slid into bed next to him.

"It's me honey...surprise!"
Pete rubbed his eyes in disbelief. "I thought you weren't coming home until tomorrow."

"Me too," she said. "But they didn't need me at the conference today, so I got permission to leave early. Aren't' you happy?"

Pete wrapped his arms around his wife. "Happy and grateful babe--welcome home!"

They shared a long passionate kiss. "Pete, I don't ever want to be away from you again," said Beth. "If you don't have any objections, I'd like to get busy on bringing a ‘Pete junior' into this world."

"Are you serious? Objections...none whatsoever. You're sure about this...the baby part?"

"I've never been as sure of anything as I am of this right now."

The sound machine echoed the ocean's gentle waves lapping against the sandy beach, while Pete and Beth drifted away, buoyed by their rebirth of love and commitment.

A few hours later, Pete was walking into the back door of the 8th District. He went directly to the Tac room where Beth was already looking over the crime reports. "Looks like there's a burglary pattern Pete, warehouses being hit and office equipment being taken. What do you think? Want to focus on that tonight?"

"Well hello to you too," I said.
"Oh, sorry Pete," she said. "I'm just really excited about this new assignment. Hi."

"Sure, that's sounds like a good place to start," I said.
"Great! Let's get busy partner."

We located our unmarked car in the parking lot, and made our way out to the industrial area around Ford City. This area was prime for burglaries-lots of businesses, warehouses, and trucking companies, plus the mall occupied several square miles of this Chicago real estate.

Midnights were the ideal time for thieves to work the area. We cruised around for a couple of hours, checked a few doors, but failed to find any suspicious activity.
"Pete, are you ready for a cup?"

Marilyn had been driving and was probably getting a little sleepy. "Sure," I said. "Dunkin Donuts sounds good."
Ten minutes later we were inside getting a couple of cups to go. As we made our way back to our vehicle, Rosato pulled in next to us.

"Well...look what we got here, Starsky and Hutch! More ass kissin' Shannon?"

"Take it easy brother, there's no need to get hostile," I said.

Rosato got out of his car and squared up to me and Marilyn. "Yeah, no need to get hostile, except I got two cops that turn out to be rats."
"What are you talking about Sal?"

"What am I talkin' about?" he said. "I'm talkin' about you two dimin' me out to Castro, saying I smacked that scumbag from the pizza joint robbery."

Marilyn bristled at that. "Hey, don't go blaming us for you stupid behavior. We didn't say anything to Castro about you; Sgt Morales told us at check off that the prisoner complained about getting roughed up. That's when Castro called OPR. We didn't know a thing about any of it until we came in at the end of the shift. Besides, the dash cam video was inventoried as evidence that will speak for itself."

Rosato didn't like that response. "You guys know that the bosses are lookin' for any excuse to fire me. It would help if when you gave your statements, that you just say that you didn't see anything."

Marilyn looked him straight in the eye and said, "Are you asking us to lie?"

"It's not lying man, besides haven't you smacked somebody around just to teach them a lesson?"

I was getting angry now, almost on the verge of saying something that I would probably regret later. "No Sal, I've never hit anyone unless it was in self defense. I don't treat people like that, and neither should you. Whatever you do on the street, you'll have to live with, right or wrong. You may get away with it once in a while, but eventually you're going to pay the price, either here on earth or on judgment day."

"You know what Shannon, I'm sick of your holier than thou attitude. You think you're so pure, that you're some kind of ‘White Knight' or something? Now you got ‘Wonder Woman' working with you and you both think your shit don't stink. Well if you were such a great cop, how come O'Hara got killed? Yeah Benson, watch your back, this guy's dangerous."

I started to move toward Rosato, but Marilyn quickly stepped in between us. "Pete, let's get away from this creep, he's polluting the air that I breathe."

We got into our car while Rosato was still running his mouth... "Yeah, run away Shannon you coward. Maybe if you were more of a man your old partner would still be alive."
Marilyn headed back toward the Ford City area. "I can't believe that guy," she said. "Pete, don't let that idiot get to you. And for God's sake, don't take what he said about Joe to heart. We all know what went down that both did a great job. What happened was neither your fault nor Joe's."

"You're right," I said. "I guess I let him get my goat there. It ticks me off because I had such a great day, and I let him ruin it."

"Care to expound on that," she said.

"Beth came home early and surprised me while I was napping."

"Whoa, that's enough partner," she said. "I get the picture."

She turned down 72nd Street, "All kidding aside though, that's great Pete. You two are well on your way to making up for lost time."

"Yes we are, and it's such a relief..."
"I'm glad for you both," said Marilyn. "I hope that I'm where you're at some day. I was almost there at one point, and then it all fell apart."
"Want to talk about it?" I said.

She pulled over and explained while we drank our coffee. "A few years ago I was living with a guy, and yes, I know it was wrong, but I thought that he was ‘the one.' Anyway, I got wind that he was seeing other women and...I'm not proud of this, but I followed him one night and caught him meeting another gal downtown. I confronted him when he came home, and he lied about everything until I told him that I had followed him and I that I had seen him with her. He moved out the next day, and for about a year I lived recklessly trying to blot out any memories of him."
"What do you mean, recklessly?"

Sipping her coffee she said, "I dated a bunch of guys and, regretfully, had a few one night stands. The last guy I dated turned out to be the stalker type...wouldn't leave me alone. He called my home and would leave dozens of messages on the machine. I finally got fed up and ran a criminal history on him-he had served time for rape. That scared me; it made me re-evaluate who I was and where I was going. I sat down with a girlfriend of mine, one who is very spiritual and has a great relationship with Christ. She told me that I had looked for comfort in every place except the right place. I decided to turn all my problems over to God, and surrender to His will. My life improved after that, I still had problems mind you, but I no longer had to hide from them. I just brought them to Him. I'm still working on the spiritual part of things, but life is getting better."

"That's a powerful story Bens, thanks for sharing that with me."
"You're welcome," she said. "I just hope that someday I'll have a relationship like you and Beth, until then I'm going to concentrate on being the best person and the best cop that I can be."
"Amen Marilyn."

"Beat 833, we've got a report of a possible break in at the warehouse, 4500 block on 72nd Street."
We heard the simulcast and headed in that direction. "I wonder if that's bogus, we just checked that area," Marilyn said.

"Yeah, I know, but we could have missed something, let's give 833 a hand checking it out."
A couple of minutes later we killed our lights and eased into a cul-de-sac on the side of a five story building. "Got your light partner?"
"Got it", she said.

Beat 833, Officer Herm Groman, was a one man unit, we decided to team up with him to do a search of the building. Groman went in first, followed by Marilyn. As I was about to enter, Rosato pulled up in his one man unit.
"I'll check the perimeter and doors," he said.
As much as I hated to do it, I couldn't let him do that alone. "Bens, go with Groman. I've got to help Sal with the outside search."

"Pete, be careful," she said.
"Will do partner."

We checked the West side of the building which had multiple doorways and a couple of outside stairwells. We made our way around the back of the structure. Not much light; some of the outside fixtures had either burnt out or been busted by vandals. From the corner of my eye, I spotted some movement by an alcove on the side of the building.

"Sal, I've got movement over there," I whispered. I directed the beam from my flashlight directly on the wall's indentation, "Police! Come out, do it now!"
I moved to a position to my right, and took cover behind a utility pole. Rosato did the same to my left. As I got into position, I yelled once more-"Police, I see you, come out now with your hands in the air, do it now!"
A figure slowly emerged from the shadows...
"Gun!" I shouted as I saw the subject holding a weapon in one hand.

"Put the gun on the ground, now!"
He bent over slowly and put the gun down. He stood back up, blinded by the beams of light from both our flashlights.

"Now turn around," I said. "Move slowly backward toward the sound of my voice."

What looked to be a Hispanic male in his 20's, followed my commands until I told him to stop.

"Now, slowly get down on your knees, keep your hands in the air, and don't move."

"You got 'em covered Sal?" I was about to holster my weapon and move forward to cuff this guy when my whole world exploded! I heard the loud report of a weapon firing and felt a sledgehammer-like force strike me in the chest.

How could he have shot me? We had him triangulated, the bad guy at the apex, Sal and me at the base. After all, this guy had already dropped his weapon and was complying with my commands.

I'm hit, I thought..."Sal, Sal, I'm hit!"
But how? I saw this guy drop his gun. Did he pull another one that I missed?

Just then another shot, but I'm positive that it's not coming my way. What's happening...?

My vest saved me from serious injury; the kinetic energy of the round knocked the wind out of me and bruised my chest. But I'm alive....

Recovering some of my senses I see Sal standing over me.
"Help me up buddy."

Sal's not moving-something's wrong here. Sal has something in his hand-a gun, but it's not his police pistol.

"Sal, what's going on? Sal..."
Then the most intense pain that I have ever felt as I feel a bullet smash into my skull. The last thing that I remember is the smell of gunpowder, and then looking into Sal's eyes and feeling like I am staring directly at Satan himself.

     Next: Shots Fired Officer Involved
Previous: The Hammer's Gun

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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