Loose Ends

8 MAY 24, Afternoon
Phone Conversation

Doing some of the paperwork on the abandoned car case her mind wandered, she got to thinking of her graduation from Basic Training, and how her parents complained about the gate being hard to get through, the gate guards had to check ID’s.  

Check ID’s….. Wouldn’t a vehicle on a military installation have to have some sort of ID, or the driver….. Why was there no information on this? And why didn’t the CGPD run the plate earlier.  

With one hand she grabbed her jacket then headed over to Buzz’s room, which acted as his office as well.  

She knocked on his door and waited for his answer.

It was opened swiftly, the room not being big enough to take long to cross, to reveal her partner, barefoot and dressed in a sleeveless tee and shorts. Behind him on the bed was an open laptop, the screen displaying a video chat window with a young girl’s face front and centre. 

“Afternoon!” Buzz said, with a warm smile for Angelica. “We working?”

“Maybe….but something about that abandoned vehicle makes no sense. She then began to explain her theory. “…. And why not run the plate when they found the car, that was standard when I was a cop why not here?”

“C’mon in,” offered Buzz, letting Angie close the door behind her as he addressed his laptop for a couple of seconds. “Emmy, I gotta work,” he told it. “I’ll call you back later,” he added, and disconnected the call.

Full attention now aimed at his partner, Buzz nodded. “Yeah,” he said. “You’re right. SOP. But, remember these guys have been dropping the ball some, that’s why we’re here to pick up the extra work? Maybe they just checked it over, got a more urgent call?” He was spitballing guesses here, guesses that didn’t really matter. “But you have an idea, dontcha?” An intrigued look crossed his face. 

“When we drove on base, even with our official vehicles, we had to show ID. And with the reports we have a basic idea of when the vehicle came on base so we check video see who drove it and then we can give the Atlantic City PD a person of interest, since yesterday I got a call from their homicide unit. Apparantly the abandoned car matches the description of a vehicle of interest.”

“Fair point, well made,” noted Bradley. “It wasn’t in the notes, but we might get something from the vid. That’s assuming the POI knew about the weapon…” he countered. “Either way though, more info is good info.” He grabbed sneakers and pulled them on, laces still tied from when he’d taken them off. “Let’s go.”

“I don’t think they’d know about the gun, even the best searchers can miss trap compartments, hell I knew gang officers with 30+ years experience missing them. Plus if I recall, there was a graduation last weekend. That can make things crazy as hell.”

“Maybe neither of them did,” Buzz mused. “The officers or the person who drove it in. If there was a graduation going on as well, could explain how they got in. Not how they’re still here though. You thinking it was accidental?”

“I think it was an accident, they want to get rid of the gun, so they make a wrong turn, stuck at the gate, gets through, ditch it at the Base Exchange because what a better place then you just walk out in the crowd.” She paused, “Perfect storm of bad events, I mean would you want to drive a car with drugs and a potential murder weapon on to a military installation, where federal law applies? God knows I wouldn’t.”

“Uh, no,” confirmed Buzz with a wry expression. “Not unless I was bringing it in as evidence at least. So, I guess we’re searching through some vid footage then?” 

“I’ll pop popcorn.” She replied as they headed out for the main surveilance room.

There wasn’t popcorn, mainly because this was evidence but the video showed the plate number of the vehicles with a view of the driver.  

“That’s a lot of minivans.” She commented to her partner.

“Sure is,” Buzz agreed, briefly and internally, mourning the lack of said popcorn. “Well, let’s go for it, try to keep our eyes open and solve this thing,” he added, with a bright enthusiasm. It wasn’t the most glamorous of cases, but solving this was just as important as any other. 

“I think these cars blend together.” She paused at one, “Does that look familar?”

Buzz rubbed his eyes briefly and refocused. Over the last half hour, there had been, as Angie first said, a LOT of minivans. He triple checked the plate. “Yup,” he confirmed. “Think that’s ours. Lotta reflection on the windshield though…” He moved them through a few more frames of video until it cleared up a little. “How bout that?”

“That’s our car, and…” She zoomed in to the drivers, “They blended in.” She checked the date and time, “We’ll need to pull the duty roster see who had that gate and maybe ask a few questions.” She sat back, “Shall we talk to the boss?”

“Figures,” Buzz frowned and shook his head slowly. Busy day, moody people… it was all too easy to let something slip, but those little moments of weakness were, in his experience, what caused the big problems. “Yeah,” he said, his nod a steady and certain confirmation. “On both counts. Let’s tell Kevin as soon as we pull the name from the roster.”

She dug through the folder she had, “I got rosters around the times the car could have gotten in.” She checked it, “Looks like we got a name, Seaman Kevin Francis, on a hold due to no spot in his A school.”

Buzz pulled his phone from his back pocket and dialled Roe. “Great job, Angie,” he noted as it rang out, then. “Hey, boss,” added Bradley with a friendly casual air to the greeting as Kevin picked up. “You busy? We got a name on the suspicious vehicle case…”

“Fill me in,” Roe said, via his cellphone. He was working on some administrative items in the office he was currently sharing with the YN2 while Erin was in the conference room working on the case he was supervising for her.

“Sure. Just putting you on loudspeaker…” Buzz hit the mark and opened up the call so Angie could contribute. “So we’ve been through all the footage, got a positive facial ID and matched it timewise to the rosters.” He then gave Passolini an upward nod to suggest his partner shared the detail.

“It entered last friday during graduation weekend, Went through the main gate where it was checked and ID’s were reviewed, the gate was manned by Seaman Kevin Francis, he was on hold due to no slots in his A school, Aviation maintenance technician, It turns out there was a line and the vehicle was waved through and the drivers abandoned it at the base exchange and dissapeared. We do have images and it’ll all go to Atlantic City PD.”

“Failure of the base security and police department seem to be a pretty large theme here,” Kevin sighed. “I’m thinking I might need to have an uncomfortable conversation with the CO.”

Angelica paused before saying, “I’m wondering why, when they found the abandoned car in the parking lot, they didn’t run the plate?”

“Right, part of that uncomfortable conversation,” he sighed. “I’ll talk with Lamar and see what can be done about these concerns. What is your recommendation on continuing this investigation on our end?”

“On our end, anything criminal, can go to Atlantic City PD, auto theft, car is a vechicle of interest in a possible homicide, we can send them the evidence and any video footage of the drivers. We can handle the internal issues and any UCMJ issues.” She looked at her partner, “Buzz, what do you think?”

“Agreed on all counts,” Buzz answered, simply, then clarified some. “Figure we’ll have a conversation with Seaman Francis and the others who were on duty that night and go through the detail of any deficiences in their day to day reporting. Kinda serious, boss, and they just got real lucky nothing happened off the back of this besides the abandoned vehicle. If you want any back-up on those uncomfortable conversations just say the word,” he offered. 

“In this case it seems like this was just a good place to dump a vehicle where the locals wouldn’t look,” Roe said. “But that in and of it self is a massive problem,” Roe said.

“Belton, get me a meeting with the Commanding Officer of the base on Monday,” he said, turning to the Yeoman at the desk alongside of his.

“Anything else?” Roe asked.

“If you’d like I can run the evidence up to Atlantic City PD Monday, unless something bigger comes up.”

“Whatever can’t be sent electronically can be sent up with you or Belton or the trainee if needed,” Roe agreed. “We can deal with that Monday just get on the horn with them today. Good job guys,” Roe said.

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