Thursday, November 29, 2012
Installment 4 of, A Walk in the Park
Tina wasn’t under surveillance, by anyone other than her x-boyfriend that is. Still she was careful to be cryptic in her communications with Jim, just in case she was wrong about being monitored.
She was on Limited Duty until her appointment with the State’s Doctor later in the week. She felt fine, but she had to wait for the doctor to sign-off on the paperwork. She was eager to get back into the field, but being in the office gave her access to some interesting information.
The two hikers who had the misfortune to be in the field near Hadley Ridge at the wrong time were both identified. After exhaustive interviews and background checks they were found to be just that, two innocent nature-loving hikers, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
The FBI had called the crime lab. They wanted to take another look at the evidence from the Park shooting incident. Scratches found on three of the shell cases recovered from the shooters position in the Park incident were thought to have come from contamination of the rifles chamber during the shooting. A later, more thorough examination by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms concluded that such scratching was inconsistent with the condition of the chamber of the recovered weapon.
Two days ago an empty .30-06 shell casing, with the same scratches on the case, was recovered by an undercover agent working at a right-wing sniper training facility in the woodlands of Georgia. The FBI was now working a new theory in the Park shooting incident, a theory centered on two shooters. One of whom was still alive, and apparently getting some target practice down in Georgia.
Tina was afraid for Jim. She wanted to get a message to him, but this new information was confidential. At first she thought her idea of the picture of two shooters was clever, then she thought it was too transparent. She waffled back and forth between feeling it was too cryptic, and not cryptic enough. In the end she realized it did not matter. She had hit send, and the deed was done. Tina rationalized that it was not the means, but the simple fact that she had tried to get warning to her new boyfriend, that made her feel better.
Her feeling better didn’t last more than a day. Interpol finally identified the body of the Park incident sniper as one Joseph Stalac, a.k.a. Jed Smith. A Bosnian Serb who had been recruited by international gunrunners after his talents were no longer needed at home. He was thought to be in Canada. His appearance in the USA was drawing some major resources from Homeland Security. Resources that were up on Hadley Ridge checking every blade of grass, and every stone for a clue as to what was going on. From the amount of trash, and buried human excrement they found, the FBI believed that Stalac had indeed been in the area for months, hiding, waiting for his trail to get cold. They were still working the issue of who was this other shooter, and why was he meeting Stalac?
John was totally pissed when he logged into Tina’s e-mail account and read her e-mails to Jim. He saw the pictures. He recognized the bar, it was Flatheads, and it was a Friday. He recognized Mike the bartender, and Mike only worked the bar at Flatheads on Friday.
As John looked at the pictures he thought he knew what they meant. Tina wanted this new guy to join her at the bar. She had a shooter waiting for him. John was itching for a confrontation so he figured he’d hang out at Flatheads on Friday nights and wait for them to show up. Weeks went bye and they never did show, but even if they had John would have been too drunk to do anything but fall down and hurt himself in a confrontation.
The FBI’s undercover agent working at the sniper school in Georgia spent a week secretly taking pictures of all the “Students.” He sent the pictures to the Bureau’s Facial Recognition Lab who compared them to the security video from the Park's Visitor Center. They got a match, and an arrest was made.
The case was officially closed, and no one with any information was talking. Not a word. Not even to all the local authorities back in Washington State who had been involved in the case from the start. The details of the case were strictly on a “Need to Know” basis, and the Fed’s didn’t think the Locals had a need.
As for Jim and Tina, they wondered what the answers were to this mystery, but after a few months those cares became secondary as they worried about the more important things in life. Things like; where are we going to live, who’s church are we going to get married in, and where are we going on the honeymoon?