We followed Ty and the troopers outside and I headed to Jenny’s car with her. Ty intercepted us and said, “You are riding with me,” leaving Jenny and my other mates to drive over in her car.
Ty said little on the ride over. The only thing he did say was, “Be ready for the questions. There are going to be a lot,” and then he took a phone call and was still on it when we parked.
We were met by several dozen officers before the car stopped moving. The media was everywhere. There must have been a dozen trucks with camera towers high in the air. I heard Marley yelling my name. All I could do was just wave.
We were then led inside by one of the side doors and then down the corridor. The bodies were still on the floor where they had fallen, partially covered with a cloth. The heavy coats they had worn were beside them. The walls were covered with blood and body parts from the head shots. The head – when impacted with a large caliber round, especially as close as I was – explodes outward like a dropped watermelon.
FBI personal were carefully photographing the explosive vests that the experts had disarmed and were disassembling one step at a time. There were photographers from several agencies taking pictures as others were placing markers by the bullet holes in the concrete wall and all the shell casings on the floor.
Eric walked to me and asked for my weapon. I handed him my Glock, “Be careful, it is loaded,” I said with a little smile.
“I have your gun, but you are just as deadly without it from what I have heard. Ah, you don’t have a knife on you, do you?” he asked. Then he laughed, “I guess that would not matter – you would still have your hands,”
He pulled the clip out of my Glock and the round out of the chamber and counted them. Before he finished I said, “Four.” I knew there were four left – I always counted my shots – something I had learned the hard way in the sand box.
“No misses. How did you know they were terrorists?” he asked.
“I did not know for sure until the “Allah” shouts and they started shooting. I suspected by the way they were dressed and acting all nervous,” I replied.
“As soon as they finish, we want you to walk us through what you did and we are going to film it,” Eric replied.
“How are the two officers?” I asked.
“The rifle rounds in the vest that close hurt them – cracked some ribs, but they will be OK. They may not do any deep breathing for a while. They did give us a pretty good description of you and said to tell you ‘Thanks’ if we found you.”
A half an hour later the disposal guys were done and with the girls off to the side, I explained what I had seen, what I had heard and then what I had done while they filmed it from several angles. I answered questions for another hour from four agencies.
Then there was the news conference that the agencies did to go through the motions. All the national media got the prime spots to the front with the local people shuffled to the far back.
The girls and I stood behind all the dignitaries as far back as we could get while they made speeches. Then I listened to the questions from the prime time media.
Was this attack tied to the Middle East? Where did they get the funds to carry it out? How long had these people been in the US, were they citizens? Where did they get the explosives? Where did the guns come from? Would this have happened if we had gun ban? How long had they been planning the attack? How did they carry out the attack with so much surveillance on the public and in the area? Would there be more attacks in the area? Were there any more of this group that had escaped? It went on for more than an hour.
Like someone rang a bell, the prime timers departed to the sides in little groups with their camera person to make their reports for their news desk.
So far I had escaped without answering a question. As the dignitaries slowly made an exit I asked Eric for my Glock back. “You know who did the shooting, you know where to find me and you do have spent rounds on file with the state.” He made a nod to another agent who disappeared to get it.
The agent returned with it and handed me the four loose rounds and the empty clip. Just to piss them off I dropped the four rounds and the clip in my pocket, placed my spare clip from its pouch into the Glock and chambered a round before returning the Glock to my holster.
Just as we were turning to leave the group and head to the shore Hanna Page yelled, “BJ – interview please?” Hanna’s Channel 34 was the new station in town. Hanna covered both the Eastern Shore and local Annapolis area.
Marley’s station had been the local channel for years and was the extensive news and public service oriented station. Marley spent mornings in the studio and on the air as the early news caster. She lived on the eastern shore not far from the gym and was either home most days by early afternoon or else working on special projects for the station. The off-hours camera and light man was her boyfriend if news happened near her. She had a portable satellite antenna that she carried in her car.
Marley’s station was handling this event for their parent major network. Marley was giving a report to the national network.
The pleading in Hanna’s voice was so apparent that there was no way I could walk away. I knew Hanna had been shuffled to the back by the bigger media groups and most likely with the help of the agencies wanting their piece in the national spotlight.
Hanna was going to get an exclusive interview. I told the girls to form a circle and keep anyone else back. Ty, Rodney and Kathryn must have sensed what I was going to do because they came over and joined in the circle as well.
Hanna dug down and in her loudest voice I had ever heard her use, started the interview and stood in a position to be in the video.
“BJ, I recognized you as being the shooter from the surveillance tape. Is this mall a JBG security partner?” She added a wink so I knew she just added a plug for JBG.
“No. We do not do supply mall security,” I replied.
“So you were just shopping here at the mall by a stroke of luck?” she asked.
“No luck. There is no part of this tragedy that was luck,” I replied.
“BJ, how did you know that this group of people was terrorists?”
“They were very nervous, overly dressed for this time of the year and just out of place in this part of the mall,” I replied.
“BJ, the FBI said that all of them were wearing suicide vests. How did you know they were wearing vests and how did you kill them with out setting off the explosives?”
“I saw the explosives and wiring through a gap in the overcoat when one of them turned. I used head shots, as body shots would have set the explosives off,” I replied. “With everyone ducking for cover – if I had missed there was a lot smaller chance that bystanders would have been hit with head shots verses the much lower body shots,” I added.
“So you carry your weapon all the time?” she asked then added, “How often do you train with it?”
“I carry or have it close by all the time. I go to the range at least every couple of weeks. If you cannot hit what you are shooting at – no need to carry a gun,” I said.
“BJ, I see that there are several bandages on your arm. Were you hit?” Hanna asked.
“This was shrapnel from bullets hitting the concrete wall beside me,” I replied.
“BJ, were there any more of this group that got away?” Hanna asked.
“I only saw these six; the four that died inside and the two that died by the explosions outside. They were actively on the phone, either keeping someone informed or receiving instruction. Hopefully the FBI can recover information from the phones. This is just the opening salvo in local terrorism,” I replied. “Everyone is a target now. You can no longer consider yourself safe on the street, least of all any public place,” I added.
“BJ, Who is responsible for this?” Hanna asked.
“The blame can only go one place, Washington.” I replied. Then added, “Be careful, I will see you later.”
“Thank you for the interview, BJ. Hanna Page with Channel 34 news team with an exclusive report from the mall in Annapolis,” she said as the interview ended.
By now the rest of the news groups were back and wanting an interview. I walked to my mates and said “Let’s go home.”
Edit by Alfmeister