With the mess outside contained I entered the embassy. With the adrenalin rush gone I realized my chest hurt like hell. My pain reminded that Vicky had been shot also I found Vicky in the security control center with both the agency and the JGB people. They had watched and filmed the whole thing on the state department video system and were watching the CZZN world news special broadcast on the events happening outside.
CZZN reporters were a real piece of work. Apparently they were mixed in with the protesters while doing a live broadcast. The only thing that did was make the protesters braver and more insane. Seeing the live video of reporters and the protesters running away from our Molotov cocktails made my day – that a few moments ago they were championing as a right of protest – was hilarious.
I just knew repercussions would be coming or at least I thought they would. From the shootout in the back to the bottle throwing and fire out front elimination of the sharp shooter, all state department personal world-wide could see it live on the State Department system surely there would be those that were critics.
“How are you, Vicky?” I asked.
“I hurt like hell,” she replied. “How about you?” she asked.
“I took a hit too,” I replied.
With a full audience I helped her take her jacket off along with her blouse. I pulled the two slugs from her Kevlar vest as I was taking pictures with one of my cell. “You may want to keep these as souvenirs,” I said as I handed them to her.
Next the vest came off and the bra.
“I am not putting that back on,” she said.
“And you won’t for a couple weeks,” I replied.
Vicky had two very large bruises. I asked for ice packs to help slow the swelling and help with the pain.
Now it was my turn. I thought I had only been hit once but there were two slugs in the vest. Like Vicky, I iced my bruises while I watched the video, then I sent the pictures from my phone to the office along with a text to be in my office for a VCATS conference in ten minutes. Cindy and Marcy knew how to run it.
The embassy staff cleared out while leaving the video controller to allow a confidential VCATS call to the gym. The staff had plenty to do with the Bolivian federal police – who were nonexistent during the protest – and were now investigating the two dead would be terrorist out back and were very agitated. I knew that Vicky and I were soon going to be required to give a statement, maybe more. We didn’t fear them it was Jenny that worried us the most.
VCATS came alive and I was looking at all of the JBG senior staff. It was easy to see Jenny was beside herself but very relived to see that we were OK.
“If luck has nine lives, you are running out of numbers; the pictures show that both of you were hit at least twice,” Jenny said.
“Yeah, I know, I promise we will be more careful,” I replied.
“Has it hit the world news there yet and what are they showing?” I asked.
“CZZN has been running live feeds of the riots at the embassy. The onsite reporter is biased and still adding fuel to the problem,” Marcy replied.
“The controller is going to link the security video to our feed. You are going to be able to see what happened behind the wall. Record it for me, Marcy,” I said.
The controller ran all the video from the beginning and ended when the building across the street disappeared from view as the blazing inferno collapsed.
One of the fence cams that were aimed to the rear of the embassy building caught the instant that both Vicky and I were hit in the vest. It also caught the rest of the shoot-out, the dead men falling and the action with us filling the beer bottles with gasoline to make our own Molotov cocktails.
I did not say anything but when we returned home I would run the tape in slow motion.
The camera on the building recording the rear gate caught the shoot-out, the dead men falling and the action with us filling the beer bottles with gasoline to make our own Molotov cocktails.
“BJ, check out the Suburban to see if the armor company can repair it here. I have ordered 25 to replace the oldest models but they are several months away. If it can not be repaired on site, we will have to lease one,” Marcy said.
“10-4, will do, and get some good pictures for them to evaluate before we leave,” I replied.
As an afterthought I called Vance, “Be on your toes, Vicky and I killed two people a short while ago. Watch each other’s back closely,”
Ambassador Ransum came in and told us we needed to make a statement to the Columbia Federal Police Investigator Mr. Jose Lacarte. He also said that Washington had instructed them to give the police a copy of the rear gate footage as part of complex international agreements.
We dressed, including the vest, after Ambassador Ransum had taken close up pictures of the impact sites on the vest. Then we were escorted into a meeting room to wait for the Columbian Federal Police investigator.
Vicky and I spent the next two hours answering all the normal questions with the Ambassador sitting in. What were we doing here, why were we carrying weapons, who started shooting first, how many shots did we fire. The video was played and replayed.
Then we had to go to be rear gate for a reenactment. Ralph Owen and Roberto went with us to play their part in the reenactment. The shell casings ejected from Vicky’s and my Glock’s were found and marked with tags. The place where the bodies fell was marked with paint and a brush. I guess they did not use chalk or spray can paint in Bolivia.
Jose had us stand in our spot’s then strode off the distance “36.5 meters,” he proclaimed to his assistants in Spanish in a conversation the lasted several minutes before he walked back.
“Thirty six and a half meters and both of you put three rounds in an area the size if my fist. How often to you practice?” he asked.
“At least every two weeks; we try to make the range as it is a company policy to stay proficient,” I replied.
“What else are you proficient with?” Jose asked.
“M16, 50cal Barrett sniper rifle, 308 Remington BDL sniper rifle, and a 12ga for fun,” I replied.
“Just for fun – I doubt,” he replied.
Jose declared the investigation over for now and then asked how long we were staying.
“We are leaving in the morning for Quito Ecuador,” I replied.
It was three in the afternoon with only a breakfast bar this morning and I was hungry. I knew Vicky had to be as well. I asked about something to eat. The chef was preparing food for us now, I was told.
The day that was to be information sharing with the embassy staff and my new employees had turned into a life or death battle for us. I assumed that the former Black Water people were to stay proficient and they proved that they were here.
Had another Benzi fiasco been prevented? Only the powers to be had the final say on that. In my mind the answer was yes. The proof was sitting across from me and Vicky enjoying fresh salad. In between bites there were conversations about our business. There were no questions about how committed we were to providing security. That was answered by action.
The afternoon and early evening were spent with the embassy staff and the JBG employees. The JBG employees produced a list of security concerns they had sent to Black Water. There was a red line through one of them. The building across the street had a red line placed through it with a note.
“Very effective and fast action on this item, Thank you.” Also in the red pen it was initialed by all the JBG employees.
I took several dozen photos of the Suburban to send to Marcy and checked the thing over for other hidden damage. Using the embassy internet and my laptop, I emailed them to Marcy. When I clicked my in box I almost fell out of my chair. I had 1500 emails with hundreds marked urgent; it was going to be a long night.
I spent two hours on the urgent e-mails, the rest of them I would handle on the flight to Quito Ecuador tomorrow morning. The urgent ones were from ambassadors, high ranking government officials, the newly acquired JBG employees from the other embassies and the JBG college security sites.
The one that gave me ease about today’s events came from Victor Edmonson, director of embassy security for the State department. It was a big smiley face with a double thumb up.
Vicky and I were treated to our first full dress evening dinner. It started with red and white wines, appetizers and a full course meal including after dinner drinks and a rich desert. It was a first for Vicky and a first in ten years for me.
Vicky and I took one last trip to the control room to view the perimeter security cameras and have a few last words with the JBG personnel working the night shift. They would be off when we left early tomorrow morning.
The guest room had one of those presidential names and two king size beds. Vicky and I showered together – we both needed to help each other washing. The bruises were big and turning black and made moving in some ways very painful.
I thought Vicky would want to sleep alone to be comfortable; I was wrong. She slid into bed and gently moved against me. Before the goodnight kiss she said, “I want to snuggle but please don’t squeeze me hard.”
“That works for me too,” I replied as I turned out the light and snuggled gently against her back.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Joe H.