SCA - Class 12
Welcome back to our 12th and final class of the SCA. I’m glad you could join me once again as we finish up our adventures with the Sheriff’s Department.
Arriving at class, Sgt. Davis asked us to fill out our evaluation sheets and turn them in. Since Dad and I had done that before we left home, we just pulled them out and handed them over. Sgt. Davis was impressed. After some talk about touring the new building just off the square on Monday, and the Christmas party/our graduation on the 13th, Sgt. Davis turned the class over to Detective Chris Carriger.
Det. Carriger gave a really quick introduction about himself and then handed out our “call sheets” for the “crime” we were going to investigate. “This is based on a real story,” he told us as he passed the papers out. “After we work a crime scene, we don’t know for sure what happened. We have theories, and maybe some of the stuff we found isn’t important, but once we leave the crime scene and then discover that maybe that piece of trash was evidence that we needed, we can’t go back and get it. You just don’t know what you are going to need, what might be evidence and what isn’t until it’s been tested. And you don’t find out what happened until later when everything is done and the crime solved. After you have worked the crime scene, I’ll tell you what happened. And if you find evidence and bring it to me, I may have more information for you because we don’t just have guys dusting for fingerprints, taking pictures or collecting evidence, we have guys out talking to people, following up leads and getting information from other sources.”
He then read the “call sheet” to us:
Location: (The address of the building where we would be working.)
Summary of Events: Deputy S attempts to pull over a car with no license plates. During the traffic stop the Deputy notified dispatch of three occupants. After several minutes passed, a status check was conducted with Deputy S with no response. Cpl. C was near the area and went to check on Deputy S. Deputy S was found wounded, and evidence of a gun fight was immediately evident. Deputy S is unconscious but alive and has been transported to the hospital for treatment. No suspects were located at the scene.
Your Objective: Process the scene for clues to identify potential suspects in this crime and help determine what occurred.
That all sounded quite interesting and I think everyone was ready to get on with it. But first Sgt. Davis wanted to give us a tour of the current Sheriff’s Office since they would soon be moving to new and larger quarters. We had heard several times from different members of the department how crowded they were and it sure was true.
Then we went back outside into the cold, misty weather and drove our vehicles to the old barn-like building where the “crime scene” was located.
“If we were called out to a crime,” Det. Carriger told us, “on a night like this, we’d have to work it in this weather, but since we have this light, dry place that is warmer than outside, we’ll do it in here.”
We were first told that since Det. Carriger was running low on tape to mark off the scene, we just had to pretend it was there. He then asked if we had picked a class leader to be in charge of the scene. No, we hadn’t. Sgt. Davis quickly fixed that by asking who came to class last. The one chosen was great for the job. Next we had to get a photographer. Those two then proceeded to enter the “marked off crime scene” and take pictures while the rest of us waited.
“This how a normal crime scene is worked,” we were told. “The patrol officer who arrived first is in charge until the first detective arrives. Then he is in charge until his supervisor arrives. But, if the Sheriff arrives and wants to go and look at the scene, we may have to tell him we aren’t ready.”
“Often we’ll have someone with a video camera who has videoed the scene and we’ll show that to the Sheriff,” Det. Carriger added.
Once the photographer was done, our leader divided us into two groups of five each and assigned the first group to process the first car, which belonged to the bad guys, and the rest of us to the patrolman’s car. I was assigned to the patrol car with the other two girls, Dad, and one other man. We had to pretend we all had gloves on.
It was quite interesting carefully walking around and taking notes, discovering things and marking them. We discovered 11 empty shells from a 9 mm gun. (Deputy S had a 9 mm gun, but we didn’t know how many rounds were still in his gun because Cpl. C had his gun in his car at the hospital.) We found some shattered glass, an instruction sheet for a radio that was written in Spanish, tire tracks, part of a pair of scissors, and a file card with five fast food restaurants written on them with their phone numbers. The other lady detectives and I were tossing around ideas of why that might be there. The numbers were all from one city and those restaurants were all within a 2 mile radius. Could this just be an unimportant piece of trash? Was it a list of restaurants the bad guys were going to rob? A getaway route? Was one of them a meeting place? “You know,” I mentioned, “all these places are going to have surveillance cameras. Perhaps the car went to one of these places today before they came here?” We mentioned our find and the surveillance cameras to our leader. Det. Carriger listened in silence and then asked, “So, what are you going to do about it?”
Our leader said he’d send some people to check out those restaurants.
We checked the officer’s car for any sign of having food from one of those places, but nothing. We were pretty much done, and after our leader told us we could collect the evidence, we picked up the cartridges. Det. Carriger told us that was all that needed picked up. He then told the guys on the other car that they had missed one piece of evidence that tied the suspect to the crime in the car. The three of us girls went over to help. Since there were already several people looking in the car, I couldn’t see in there much. Det. Carriger was talking to someone about cars and mentioned that his girl friend hated riding in a car he had because her hair always got stuck in the headrest. Almost at once several of our lights went to the headrests and we discovered a collection of hair. We had found the missing evidence!
“You guys are the first class that has found that so quickly,” Det. Carriger told us. “I tell that story each time and no one seems to notice.”
Then he tells us what happened. “Bad guy one lives a few blocks down the road, right beside a car lot. That morning he steals the car and takes the plates off because he thinks someone might have seen him. He and his buddies drive to a house and go in to rob it. What they didn’t know was that the man worked night shift and was there asleep. They end up killing the man and had just driven away when the Deputy S pulls them over. Deputy S begins to approach the car, the doors open and he sees guns. He quickly retreats towards his car for protection and gun fire is exchanged. Backseat bad guy jumps out of the car and runs away. Passenger bad guy fires two rounds and then takes off. Bad guy one, the driver, fires from the driver’s side and then runs around and shoots from the passenger side. The officer’s car has about 70 holes in it. Deputy S takes one round in his shoulder, several in his vest and then one in his neck which just misses his jugular and damages his spinal cord. He keeps firing even when he is down. This all takes place in about 27 seconds. It turns out,” Det. Carriger told us, “that the deputy didn’t remember much of the fight. He knew he had to keep firing and and the next thing he knew he was waking up in the hospital. He ended up being paralyzed from mid chest down, but until he died of cancer several years later, he went back to work with the Sheriff’s department doing other things.”
“What happened to the bad guys?” one member of class asked.
“Bad guy one, who stole the car and did most of the shooting, was executed. The other two testified against him and received life sentences.”
“How did they find the guys?”
“They had the cell phone (There must have been a cell phone in the car.) and were able to track several calls and found the guy’s house. That’s where the other two were hiding. One of them talked, the other didn’t. About a week later the first guy was caught.”
It was only a little after 8:00, but we were finished with the crime scene, and after talking a little while with Sgt. Davis, Dad and I headed for home.
I hope you have enjoyed these first hand reports from the Sheriff’s Citizens’ Academy. If you are interested in attending a class like this, check with your local Sheriff’s department and see if they are offering one. This has been Rebekah, reporting in person from the scene of action. Thanks for joining me.