I always try to add a dash of romance in my murder mysteries. I mean, the two things kind of go together. You always hurt the one you love, as the saying goes. Indeed, domestic homicides are far more common than we would like to think. Back when I was a cop, I responded to a shooting in a residence at about two-thirty in the morning. The husband was lying in the bedroom with a hole in his gut. The wife was nearby, and so was a loaded, chrome, snub-nose, .38 revolver. After gaining control of the weapon, I asked what happened. Through gritted teeth, the husband said, “My wife shot me. I was attacking her and she was defending herself.” The paramedics arrived and I let them work on him while I took his missus into custody.
It was pretty cut and dried. I took her to the station and read the Miranda warning. She didn’t want to talk about it, so I put her in the cell and went to the hospital to check on the husband. He was in surgery, and the wife’s family arrived. Apparently, she’d called them after she’d requested an ambulance. The husband was in surgery, so there wasn’t much I could do. By the time I got back to the station, the on-call detective arrived and I briefed him on the situation. He shook his head and said he’d have to wait until the husband was out of surgery and take it from there. I went back to check on the wife, who asked how her husband was doing.
“He’s in surgery,” I said. “Your sister and brother-in-law are at the hospital.”
“They’re over there while I’m locked up in here?” she said.
I think she was more upset about that than anything else.
To make a long story short, the husband survived, and refused to press charges. I figured it was the end of this story until a few years later. It was about seven in the evening, and I was dispatched to a call at the emergency room to check on a shooting victim in the ER. As I was en route, I received more information from dispatch: “Be advised, the shooter is in the waiting room.”
I asked for further and was told that the only information available was that the shooter was “a female black.”
I kept asking for more information as I pulled up to the Emergency Room entrance. As I exited my squad car, the dispatcher told me that the shooter was sitting in the waiting room and the whereabouts of the weapon was unknown.
I was met by a befuddled security guard at the entrance. I asked where the suspect was, and he shrugged. “I don’t know.”
We quickly tracked down the complainant, a nurse, who pointed to the waiting room and said, “She’s in there.”
I walked to the edge of the room and did a quick peek. There were perhaps twelve people inside, and six of them were black females. I asked the nurse who the alleged shooter was, and she pointed to a woman wearing a blue, Cook County Deputy’s uniform. Court personnel usually wore this type of uniform. I didn’t see any visible holster or gun.
“The woman in the uniform?” I asked.
Everyone in the room appeared to be sitting quietly, watching the television that had been fastened to a metal frame about six feet off the floor.
I stepped back and advised the dispatch center of the situation and asked about my back-up.
“Unit on the way,” the dispatcher informed me.
I debated waiting, but figured it would be safer to ask the suspect to step out into the hallway. Plus, she was wearing a uniform and evidently was in law enforcement.
I walked over to her. She stood and asked, “You’re here about my gun, right?”
I said I was, and asked her to step into the hall with me. As she stood I visually checked her body. No weapons.
When we got into the hall, she immediately started to open her purse. I placed my hand on top of hers and told her I’d take it.
She looked startled, and frowned. “What for?”
As I started to say I needed to take charge of her weapon until I had sorted out the matter of the shooting, another black woman came up to us.
“I think you want me,” this new woman said.
She looked strangely familiar, but I couldn’t place her.
“Are you involved in this?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said. “I shot him.”
The deputy suddenly became very irate. “You thought I shot somebody?”
I ignored her and took the purse from the second woman. “Where’s the gun?”
“In the house.”
“And you shot someone?”
She nodded. “My husband.”
I asked the deputy to do a quick pat-down search on the suspect. She did, and I placed the second lady in handcuffs. My back-up arrived and I began to get things sorted out. After explaining the situation to the female deputy, and apologizing, she went back in the waiting room in a huff. I then inquired about the victim, and was advised that he’d been brought to the ER by the female I now had in custody. He’d been shot in the abdomen, and was in surgery. His name sounded vaguely familiar, and suddenly it all clicked. These were the same two people that had been involved in the domestic shooting incident to which I’d responded a few years before.
I immediately went back to the house to check the crime scene and recovered what appeared to be the same loaded, chrome, snub-nose, .38 revolver. I waited for the detective to arrive and turned everything over to him. I thought I’d been caught in a television rerun, or some warped, real-life version of Groundhog Day. Sure enough, the husband survived, and refused to press charges, saying that his wife shot him “in self-defense.”
It was like déjà vu all over again.
A few weeks later I got called into the station and was introduced to a gentleman needing an escort over to his residence to retrieve some personal property. It was the guy who’d been shot those two times.
I asked him how he was doing, and he shook his head. Apparently, all the romance had gone out of their relationship after the second shooting. He and his wife were thinking of splitting up.
I resisted the temptation to say that they third time could be the charm, and mulled over giving him the name of a guy I knew who sold bulletproof vests. But I kept my mouth shut.
I guess I’ll always be a romantic at heart.