Reed’s address was in the Port. It was late afternoon by the time Carl and Peter arrived outside the building, a two storey apartment block that had seen better days. Dale Reed lived in apartment five on the second level. Their check of the police database had confirmed that Reed was a man without a known criminal history.
They waited in the car until the voice of Constable Charlie Head crackled over the radio, letting them know that he and his partner were in place at the rear of the building.
‘Do you see the van, Charlie?’ said Peter, using the radio in the car.
‘Yeah, I see it. It’s in one of the parking bays back here.’
It looked like Dale Reed was home.
‘Okay, we’re going in.’
As they approached, a young woman with a small boy in a stroller opened the door to exit the building.
Peter showed her his badge. ‘We’re looking for Mr Reed.’
‘You’re lucky, he’s been away on holidays. He only got back last night,’ said the woman.
‘Where’s number five?’ said Peter.
‘Upstairs. You can’t miss it.’
They waited, until the woman had set off with the stroller, and then entered the building through the door she had left open for them. Carl followed Peter up the stairs to the landing on the second level. Four frosted glass doors opened onto a short corridor. Number five was on their left as they exited the stair well. Peter knocked on the door of number five.
‘Who is it?’
‘Police, Mr Reed. Open up.’
‘Just a minute.’
Carl stood to the left of Peter, who stood directly outside the door, watching for Dale Reed through the frosted glass.
Carl heard the sound of a door closing and footsteps on tiles from within the apartment.
‘Here he comes,’ said Peter.
There was a loud bang. Shards of glass flew into the corridor as the door exploded from within. Peter hit the opposite wall and slumped to the floor.
A man with blond hair, holding a pump action shotgun, stepped through the shattered doorway into the corridor.
Carl whipped the pistol from his shoulder holster and pointed it at the man.
‘Drop the gun!’
The man turned towards Carl, levelling the weapon and working the pump action as he pivoted.
Instinctively, Carl put two rounds into the centre of the target, as he had done countless times in training.
The man holding the shotgun fell backwards, and collapsed into the pool of blood slowly spreading across the tiles from where Peter James lay, motionless. The shotgun clattered to the floor.
There was a loud crash downstairs, followed by footsteps on the stairs. Carl turned to face whoever was coming up the stairs. Constable Head appeared, pistol in hand, and looked at Carl, who was standing over the body of the shooter.
‘Peter’s been shot.’
The tiles on the floor of the corridor were covered in broken glass and blood. Peter James lay still and silent amid the mess. Charlie squatted next to Peter and felt his neck for a pulse.
Carl performed a similar check on the body of shooter, and came to the same conclusion as Charlie.
A couple of minutes later, Constable Priest came up the stairs with the first aid kit from their patrol car.
One look at Charlie’s face was enough to tell her there was nothing she could do for Peter; he was gone.
Jane Priest sat on the top step, and wept.
to be continued…