Wednesday morning we put our people in place for a test run to see how fast students could go through the scanners and equipment. The last thing we needed was to create long lines that could become targets.
It did not take long to find out that we needed to make changes to that part of the plan. Even with 6 ladies running the x-ray machines at the test entrance, lines were forming.
Those lines would be easy targets for a suicide bomber; they are going to be nervous, scared, possibly under the influence of drugs, possibly wanting to get it over with as soon as possible. Who knew what went through their mind in those final seconds before they pushed the button or what made them choose a particular spot to do it.
I was sure they had been repeatedly told to get into the biggest group possible to take as many as possible with them on their journey.
A quick change was made; we decided to let the thermal images determine which students would be scrutinized closer.
We collected 10 hunting knives (blades longer than 4 inches) and three handguns. Since this was a trial run, I collected their drivers licenses and told them they could pick them up after class. I did not know for sure what the policy of this college was, but I was pretty sure those items were banned.
I called the DHS guys to have them run the serial numbers on the guns and to see if they stolen or registered to the students or their parents. If they were registered to other individuals, it would be decision time. I was hoping that they could run ballistics in the short time we had them.
The changes we had made worked for today – would they work for tomorrow with the larger crowd?
I went back to the office to do one more check to see if any information had changed and was disappointed that there was nothing new.
After supper Ching Lee and I helped the night crew make the final changes that all of us had agreed on. Other than the normal night skeleton crew, all of us turned in early.
At 4:30 AM all of us met at the local Bob Evans breakfast restaurant; there were almost a hundred of us. The complete RRT team, the DHS and all the part time employees who were working today made up the group.
Even the first group of DHS came along with Len Zimmerman and their attitude was gone. Eric had called last night asking if I would allow them to come back and participate, “OJT,” he called it.
‘On the job training,’ been there and done that and it usually involved mistakes. This was no place for mistakes. They were going to be assigned with four of Andy’s toughest men; team leaders who would make them walk the line and take no bull.
With the extra DHS men Andy assigned the four to the roof of the building with M16”s to join the eight men he had already assigned there.
They had one instruction and that was to stop the car bomb as far from the building as they could. Along with that instruction there were limitations and exceptions; be as reasonably sure as possible that the vehicle was terrorist and limit collateral as much as possible. Len was standing with me as Andy gave those instructions and nodded his approval.
The agents almost fainted when Andy opened the storage locker and handed them a 60 round magpul rotary magazine for their M16 and several 40 round magazines.
“They won’t let us have anything like that on our operations,” one of them said.
“This is not one of your operations; I march to a different drummer. When the decision is made to start shooting I don’t want you to stop until the vehicle is stopped. By the way, Eric said that all our equipment has to go back with us; you get to play with it, not keep it,” I replied.
I did not tell them that I had four of my best men on the ground level with Stingers to be used as the last line of defense to keep any vehicle out of the building. Neither Len nor Eric knew that – if they did, they would be livid. Stingers violated all the rules if they were used domestically.
Speaking of Stingers, the four that were here were the last of those we had. Kampala had put a hurting on our inventory. I wondered if it was best to ask Frank for more, or should I leverage Ben-David for a supply? I had a feeling that Ben David would supply a lot of things that would give Eric and Frank severe indigestion.
Everyone was in place and now it was a waiting game. I hated waiting games; the mind was a terrible thing when one was waiting with something like this. It created a dozen more scenarios and made one question everything we had prepared for.
It was the second thoughts and indecision that lost battles and got people killed. True leaders researched everything first and then made plans based on the information at hand. That was what Andy and I had done. There were contingencies in case things changed, but plan A was the one we were operating under.
The crowds started filtering in shortly after 8; for the students it was essentially a free day getting preferential seats in the ticket sales. There was to be four different sets of games; a junior and a varsity men’s tournament, broken up by ladies junior and varsity games. The men’s varsity was the last and big one.
The extra people made things go smooth; the girl’s junior was the first game then the men junior. We expected the crowds to be light for those games and they were. It gave all my people time to adjust to the equipment, speeding things along.
We had posted signs that no weapons of any kind – including knives – were to be carried into the complex, turn them in at the security check points and pick them up when they left or be arrested if they tried to carry them inside. My station collected 45 guns and knives. The streets of Minneapolis must be a dangerous place.
The first game went off without a hitch. The crowds were a little more rowdy for the men’s junior game but still sane. The game went into overtime with MSU winning by a single point.
There was a long break next to scuffle out the crowd; one ticket was good for the first game and a different ticket for the last two games. Even the students had to pay a modest amount for these tickets. The break allowed the college to sell overpriced concessions. The next game was to start at one; the crowds wasted no time in getting back into the Stadium.
A few minutes before one Eric called, “One of the men following Diya was killed a few minutes ago. He was trying to give a report; the only thing that he got to send was, ‘three SUV’ we think it has started.”
“I have teams scouring all the traffic cams and satellite available but there is a lot of it and it will take time,” he said.
“Time is what we don’t have from what you are telling me. How far away did this happen?”
“About ten miles” Eric replied.
“OK,” as I ended the call.
‘That means we have less than ten minutes now,’ I thought.
Andy, Sherman, Ching Lee, all the team leaders, Len and I had ear wicks, “Just got a tip that we may be looking for three SUVs; that tip cost an agent his life,” I said into the mike.
More waiting ended with, “An SUV just let out two individuals in full Burkas out by the highway. It went out the exit and made a left; I think it is headed your way.” That was from the west entrance.
A few minutes later one of the leaders on the roof, “A SUV just let two more persons in Burkas at the East entrance and is now following two more to the back of the parking lot.
The East pedestrian entrance was still open and that was where Ching Lee and I were at its entry to the building. The walk for them was almost 300 yards. It was the East vehicle entrance that Andy had changed the traffic pattern.
We had to wait on the infrared scanners to see if they actually carrying anything on them so it was still a waiting game.
Paige Donavan was operating the scanner, “Scan the line and try to get a good image of those two as quick as you can,” I instructed.
Peter Arness and Doug Stone were in the very first row by the road directing cars into parking spots.
Doug had one of the 900Meg radios with an ear piece, “Doug, do you see those two individuals dressed in Muslim garb? We think they may be the suicide bombers we were expecting. Walk beside the line of people behind them and slow them down if you can. Try to create some separation and be smart how you do it,” I said into the mike.
“There are cylinders around the mid section, wiring and other things,” Paige said.
I walked over and looked myself. Sure enough they were wired and loaded.
I pulled Ching Lee aside and started whispering to her what we were going to do and handed her a hand full of money, then we walked out of the van and towards the two.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.