So you show up at work one day, and your supervisor tells you that instead of your normal duties you’re going to be working a protection detail at a fellow officer’s home. Okay, you say, but why?
And your supervisor tells you that they’ve identified a suspect in a double murder, the one down in Irvine that everyone’s been talking about, the one where the daughter of a retired LAPD captain and her fiancé were shot to death while sitting in a car. And he goes on to tell you that the suspect is a former LAPD cop who was fired a few years ago, and that he had put some kind of twisted manifesto on his Facebook page saying he had declared war on the LAPD and would hunt down and kill everyone he held responsible for his getting canned from the job. And their families.
And you say, “What?”
Then you get a copy of this guy’s manifesto, and the first thing you do is skim through it looking for your name. And though you’re relieved not to find yourself listed among the killer’s targets, there are people you know on the list and you wonder if all of these protection details the LAPD is scrambling to put together will be in place before the guy strikes again. And you think, the guy blames the retired captain (among many others) for his getting fired, so he goes out and kills his daughter? And her fiancé? What the hell is wrong with this guy?
Plenty, as you come to learn, for as you read more deeply into his manifesto you realize he’s put a lot of thought into it — a lot of pretty tangled thought, but a lot of thought nonetheless — and he says he’s got all kinds of guns and military gear and knows how to use them and not get caught.
Then your cell phone starts ringing. It’s people you work with or used to work with, and they have questions. Have you seen the manifesto? Can you believe so-and-so is on the list? Can you believe the guy is willing to kill family members over this? And then you talk to a coworker who tells you that a friend of his is on the list, and your coworker says it was he who informed his friend to arm up and hunker down more than an hour before anyone from the department got around to officially warning him.
Then they tell you the cop you’ll be protecting is someone you used to work with, and you and the rest of your detail drive 30 or 40 miles to his house out in the suburbs and get set up. A few guys in tight on the house, a few others farther out, a few others even farther out. Every car that comes through the neighborhood has to be checked out. You want to knock on the door of the house you’re guarding and ask how your former coworker is doing but you don’t want to bother him and his family, because God knows how they must be feeling. But then he needs to go out for some groceries, so you arrange to put him in an unmarked car with some cops in plain clothes, so at least he can go and get what he needs without making a big scene at the supermarket.
And when he gets back from the grocery run you talk to him for a minute in front of the house and ask him how he’s doing. Okay, he says, but it’s hard on the family. And even though he tries not to act worried — because, you know, we’re cops and we never want to act worried around other cops — even though he tries to act like he isn’t worried you can see that he is and you can see that he hasn’t slept much and you can only imagine how his wife is doing and how he explains all of this to his kids, who can’t go to school or the playground or even out in their own yard.
So you tell him you’ve got his back, that you and the rest of the detail have the neighborhood covered. And he thanks you and goes back in the house, but you know he’s wondering: If the killer shows up here, are you going to be able to stop him? And you wonder the same thing, because even though you and the rest of the cops on your detail are armed to the teeth with every weapon the LAPD allows you to have (and maybe one or two it doesn’t), you know the killer you’re looking for has some formidable weapons of his own, including, if the reports are true, a .50 caliber sniper rifle, the bullet from which would go right through your ballistic vest and your car and probably a house or two before it stopped.