Sunday, 18 January 2009
It's the type of call that always concentrates the mind, "Sound of gun shots fired". It's a fair distance away from where I'm driving and not far from the police station. I make my way not knowing what to expect. It's just one call into the control room, I'm thinking it might be a waste of time. If something bad has happened there are usually multiple calls. The location is a housing estate made up of blocks with each flat numbered in sequence.
I arrive but I'm not first. Officers on scene are looking for the flat, confused with the numbers. Perhaps it's a different block nearby. Nobody is coming out to direct us and there is silence. It's a beautiful spring night, my favourite time of the year. The gloom and coldness of winter is gone and the trees are coming to life. A cool breeze moves the leaves on the branches, it really is that quiet. Is this a wild goose chase? We're definitely looking stupid as more units turn up and we still can't find the flat. The ever growing group of officers moves off towards another block. I'm not one for following the crowd and turn a corner finding a stairwell.
This is it I think, and wander up the stairs looking for the numbers. That's what I'm focused on and I miss the scatter of shotgun pellets on the ceiling. I turn onto a balcony and suddenly there's much to take in. Laying feet towards me is a woman flat on her back, squatting beyond her is a male crying. "It was an accident". He made me jump, I'm not expecting this and I'm trying to take in what I'm seeing , not thinking straight. She's wearing black knee length boots, they were all the fashion at the time. They had to be laced up the front and I rather liked the look, except on fat birds trying to be the height of. I can't work it out, what's gone on? The sawn off shotgun laying besides her gives me a clue. Has he done it? and stayed at the scene.
I bend on my knee beside her and feel for a pulse in her neck, whilst watching the male now sat on the floor. She's dead, staring up with lifeless eyes. Already her skin colour is showing that milky opaque display of death. There's not much blood considering the shotgun was discharged at point blank range into her abdomen. I move towards him and tell him to stand up. I cuff him and pat him down. "The gun's over there - I didn't mean to do it". He is arrested.
There's an open door to the flat - "Who's Inside?". He didn't know - this is now a crime scene. Others have now worked out the mystery of the flat numbers and arrive on the balcony.
I have to keep him at the end of the balcony, the Boss turns up and I brief him quickly. He checks the flat in case of further carnage inside. Thankfully it's empty - but the balcony is full as an ambulance crew turns up and attach various bits and pieces to the woman. She's dispatched to hospital for the obvious to be confirmed. A young female probationer goes too as continuity officer. She was there the next day for the post mortem and was never the same again.
The suspect can't stop speaking. He came looking for the woman's boyfriend having had a falling out. They had words on the doorstep and somehow the gun went off. He might have been telling the truth as the gun had gone off as he came up the stairwell. I didn't really care. Somebody was dead - her life wiped out - literally blown away. This was murder wasn't it?