Apprentice in Death (In Death #43)(4)

She broke off when the girl shot through the air, form gone, and collided with the young family.

Eve rewound it, backed up another minute, and now scanned the other skaters, the onlookers.

“People are giving her room,” Eve murmured, “some are watching her. I don’t see any weapons.”

She let it play through, watched the second victim jerk back, eyes widening, knees buckling.

Ran it back, noted the time. Ran it forward.

“Less than six seconds between strikes.”

People skated to the first vic and the family. Security came rushing out. And the couple skating—poorly—along the rail—slowed. The man glanced back. And the strike.

“Just over six seconds for the third. Three shots in roughly twelve seconds, three dead—center back, gut, forehead. That’s not luck. And none of those strikes came from the rink or around it. Tell Fericke, when he’s got all names and contacts, that anyone who has given a statement can go. Except for the medicals and the third vic’s wife.

“Get a full statement from all three of them, and contact whoever the vic’s wife wants. The female’s cleared for bagging, tagging, and transpo to the morgue. And we need park security feeds.”

“Which sector?”

“All of them.”

Leaving Peabody gaping, Eve crossed the ice to the second victim.

When she finished with the bodies, she went inside.

The two medicals sat together on a bench in a locker area, drinking coffee out of go-cups.

Eve nodded to the uniform, dismissing her, then sat on the bench across from them. “I’m Lieutenant Dallas. You’ve given statements to my partner, Detective Peabody.”

They both nodded, the one on the left—trim, close-shaven, mid-thirties—nodded. “Nothing we could do for the three who were killed. By the time we got to them, they were gone.”


“Sorry. Dr. Lansing. I thought, I honestly thought the girl—the girl in the red suit—had just taken a bad spill. And the little boy, he was screaming. I was right there, that is, right behind them when it happened. So I tried to get to him, first. I started to move the girl, to get to the little boy, and realized she wasn’t hurt or unconscious. I heard Matt shouting for everyone to get off the ice, to get clear.”


“That’s me. Matt Brolin. I saw the collision—saw that girl go into her turn for a jump, saw her propelled forward into the family. I was going to go help, then I saw the guy go down, saw him drop. Even then I didn’t put it together. But I saw the third one, I saw the strike, and I knew. I was a corpsman. Twenty-six years ago, but it doesn’t leave you. We were under attack, and I wanted people to get to cover.”

“You two know each other.”

“We do now,” Brolin said. “I knew the third guy was gone—hell of a sniper strike—but I tried to do what I could for the second one. He was still alive, Lieutenant. He looked at me. I remembered that look—and it’s a hard one to remember. He wasn’t going to make it, but you’ve got to do what you can do.”

“He shielded the guy with his own body,” Lansing put in. “People panicked, and I swear some would’ve skated right over that man, but Matt shielded him.”

“Jack had his hands full with the little boy, and the parents got banged around some, too. Right?”

“They didn’t have time to break their own fall,” Lansing explained. “The father’s got a mild concussion, the mother’s a sprained wrist. They’ll be all right. The boy, too, but he got the worst of it. Security had a first aid kit. I gave him a little something for the pain. The MTs were here inside of two minutes. You have to give them credit. I went to help Matt. And we had to try on the last one. But like Matt said, he was gone. Gone before he hit the ice.”

“Nothing to do but perform some basic first aid on people who’d taken falls or cut themselves on blades—skates,” Matt added. He scrubbed a hand over his scruffy gray beard. “It wasn’t until they put us in here that it came back to me. You’ve got to put it away when you’re working.”

“Put what away?”

“The fear. The fear you could take a strike in the back of the head any second. Whoever shot those people? They’ve got skills. It came from the east. The strikes.”

“How can you know that?”

“I saw the third hit. Saw the angle, the way the guy was turned. From the east.” His eyes narrowed on Eve’s. “You already knew that.”

“I reviewed the security discs. We’ll reconstruct, but at this point I agree with you.”

“His wife’s in the office over there, with your partner. Her parents just got here.” Brolin heaved out a breath. “This is why I went to veterinary school when I got out of the Army. Dogs and cats? Easier to handle than people.”

“You handled people just fine. Both of you. I want to thank you for what you did here today. We have your contact information if we need to talk to you again. You can reach me at Cop Central if you need to talk to me. Lieutenant Dallas.”

“We can go?” Lansing asked.


“How about that beer?”

Brolin managed a weak smile. “How about a couple of them?”

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