Just then a flash in one of the warehouses caught Malloy’s eye. He lifted his foot off the accelerator, and the car dropped from thirty-five to thirty and kept slowing.
“What’s up?” Reed said.
“I’m not sure. That warehouse there.” Malloy eyed a large, gray building with dark windows about a hundred yards ahead and to the left. “I thought I saw lights for a second. Big lights.” He shook his head. “But it might have been the sun.”
Reed nodded. “I’ll call it in.” He took up the microphone, but waited. The dispatcher was giving a list of stolen items and the descriptions of three 459 suspects who had all taken off in different vehicles.
Malloy pulled over and squinted across the street at the warehouse. No more lights flashed in the building. He’d probably just seen a reflection, the sun or lights against the windows. There was no harm in checking it out, but not before they called in their location. That was a hard rule with Mac; do nothing until you tell the dispatcher your situation and receive confirmation of transmission.
Reed held the microphone. He concentrated, no doubt memorizing the descriptions of the suspects and vehicles as he waited.
A sound ricocheted around them; one of the warehouse doors had been thrown open. A girl (mussed, straight brown hair, about 5’4″, 110 pounds, baggy maroon sweater and blue jeans) leaped down to ground-level, fell on her hands and knees, and regained her feet. A big guy (about 280, balding brown and brown, about 5’11”, gray sweat suit) followed her, holding a revolver. As the girl ran, he raised the gun and took aim.
“Reed!” Malloy said as he reached for the keys. His partner’s gun was out before he’d started the car.
The man shouted, and the girl froze with her hands in the air.
Malloy yanked the wheel around and gunned the engine. The car rolled close to the iron, barred gate of the fence that surrounded the warehouse. He and Reed bailed out and took cover behind their open car doors, guns pointed at the suspect.
“You freeze, Mister!” Malloy said.
The man made a dash for the girl, but she dropped to the ground and covered her head. Malloy fired, and the suspect fell, clutching his right shoulder. The officers rose, their guns still ready.
“Call it in,” Malloy said. “And keep him covered. I’m gonna check for other guns.”
Reed reached in for the microphone, keeping his eyes on the suspect, but they could hear a chase on the radio… All units in the vicinity in 1-Adam-43 were coordinating to catch the three cars…
Reed wouldn’t be able to get in right away, but they needed that gun out of the suspect’s reach. So Malloy came out from behind the car and walked to the gate. The bars, which were supposed to be fastened by a padlock, swung open at a push.
The suspect was on his back. He watched unblinking as Malloy approached, picked the gun out of the dust, and stuck it in his belt.
“Don’t move,” Malloy said, “My partner has you covered.” He placed his own gun in its holster and bent to frisk the suspect. No more weapons. He checked the wound. It was bleeding quite a bit, but the guy would be fine after an ambulance ride to the hospital.
Malloy turned to the girl. She still lay curled on the ground, covering her head with her arms. He crouched beside her and spoke softly. “It’s ok. You’re safe now. Don’t be afraid.”
She looked up, her eyes wide. Malloy judged she was about sixteen. Her front teeth were crooked. “Get down!” she said, only ‘down’ sounded more like ‘dune’. “There’s another one!”
“Yes, there is,” came a clear male voice from the direction of the car. “And he’s going to shoot your partner here if you don’t do exactly what he says. Now just turn around slowly, and nobody gets hurt worse.”
The girl groaned and placed her head back in the dirt.
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