WONDER HORSE BOOK ONE
By: Victoria Hardesty and Nancy Perez
Writers of Action and Adventure with Arabian Horses
Detectives Nelson and Bentley arrived at the substation in their bulletproof vests. They pulled their Orange County Sheriff’s Department jackets over them to help identify themselves to other officers. They’d checked their weapons and made sure they had the right gear. No one had any idea what they would be walking into out in the woods.
The parking lot was full of Deputies gearing up. The Haz-Mat teams checked their gear and loaded everything in their three vans. They left plenty of space in the vans for hauling out evidence. The Command and Control vehicle was idling and ready. The DEA teams brought several dog teams along, just in case someone headed for the woods to escape. ATF Teams had their weapons checked. Everyone was tense and ready.
The parking lot began to empty, all vehicles following the Sheriff’s cars. Deputy Jones led. He was the only one who’d actually been to the property. Everyone parked quietly off the road a half-mile from the cabin. The Haz-Mat teams and their vans parked across the road from the Sheriffs. Deputies, ATF, and DEA Agents got out of their cars. Everyone crept to their assigned positions around the property. Everyone was absolutely quiet. Radios were turned down. Dogs were muzzled. All lights were off.
As the teams approached the property, they noted people in sleeping bags in the dirt in front of the cabin. Others had fallen asleep in lawn chairs around and on the porch. Some used their cars to sleep in.
At 5:30 a.m., Sheriff Tishman gave the signal. He shouted, “GO! GO! GO!” Officers assigned to the cabin drew their guns and jumped on the porch. They announced themselves as they busted the door off its hinges. They ran inside with guns drawn. Both Danny and Calvin were half-dressed and in bed.
Calvin and Danny stared at the Deputies. Both had the “deer in the headlights” look of shock and fear. There was no one else in the cabin. They were handcuffed and marched outside.
K-9 Agents with dogs stood over the people in the open. They pulled the dogs’ muzzles off when Sheriff Tishman gave the signal. The dogs came alive with snarling and growling. The Agents and their dogs maintained control. Deputies stood suspects against the walls, legs spread. Suspects were searched and cuffed; then force marched to waiting vehicles. Suspects already on the ground were rolled onto their bellies. They were searched, then cuffed and hauled back to waiting cars. Most were too startled or terrified of the dogs to put up resistance. Dogs barked furiously, straining to get away from their handlers. Screaming and shouting from male and female partygoers, Officers, and the dogs made a horrible racket in the darkness.
One man broke ranks and ran for the woods. A dog was turned loose on him. The dog’s handler ran to keep up. When the dog caught the man, terrified screaming echoed through the woods. The dog brought the man down. The dog, snarling savagely through clamped jaws, held the man down on his belly. The man’s upper arm was in the dog’s mouth. The dog stood on his back. His handler arrived and sat on the man as he cuffed him. The officer hauled him to his feet and escorted him back out of the woods. The dog continued snarling and snapping at the suspect’s heels the whole way. The man sniveled and cried out in fear.
Deputies assigned to vehicles searched for suspects inside with flashlights. When they found someone inside a car, a Deputy smashed out the car’s side window with his nightstick. Startled suspects were helped outside by Deputies with their guns drawn. One Deputy leaned them across the hood of their car at gunpoint while his partner searched and cuffed them.
The officers rounded up a total of twenty-nine people. Thanks to the dogs, no one escaped. All suspects were in cars or vans waiting to be hauled to jail. One by one, officers checked each person for their identity. That information was passed on to the Command and Control vehicle. The suspect was run through the computer looking for Wants and Warrants.
The Deputies found all of the people arrested were wanted. Wants and Warrants showed them guilty of Failure to Appear in Traffic Court, suspected Child Abuse, Burglary, Drug Sales and Possession, Parole Violation, Auto Theft, etc.
A DEA Agent checked out the barn. He kicked the door in. He went inside with his gun drawn. He found no one there. “Clear!” he shouted to the others.
The Agent confirmed what Darlene suspected. This was a meth lab. It was full of product ready for sale and all the equipment needed to make it. He backed out and called the Hazardous Material teams up to start loading their vans.
The Sheriff sent Deputies back inside the cabin to gather evidence. All vehicles on the property were checked for ownership and ran through the computers. Low and behold, two stolen cars were sitting there. Deputies went through the cars looking for evidence. Other Deputies went through the sleeping bags. Many items were tagged for evidence. The Deputies in the cabin found one handgun and one rifle that had been recently fired. They were bagged and tagged. Lots of contraband was found in pants pockets, sleeping bags, purses, cars, and inside the cabin.
All in all, it took several hours to collect the evidence at the scene. Deputies began processing suspects in the Command and Control vehicle. Those processed were driven to jail for lock-up.
When all the evidence had been collected, the Sheriff called the operation completed. All the officers headed back to the substation. They needed to process the rest of the suspects and set up the charges for each of them.
The substation was a flurry of activity within a few minutes. Suspects were connected to evidence, charges were established, paperwork processed, and suspects moved into jail cells. All the evidence collected was assigned to a suspect or suspects. There weren’t enough cells in the small substation, so prisoners were moved to other facilities in vans with Deputy Escorts.
The Hix brothers were separated at the property. Calvin and Danny were locked in interview rooms, chained to the tables inside.
Brian Nelson and Ron Bentley had been partners for years. Each had their own particular style when interviewing suspects. Brian coaxed information out while Ron had a more hard-edged style. Between them, they’d already decided Danny would be the easier one to interview, so Brian took him, and Ron took Calvin. They expected Calvin to say nothing and “lawyer up” right away.
The detectives taped and video recorded both interviews. Sheriff Nolan stood behind the two-way mirror, looking into the interview room with Calvin Hix. Ron Bentley entered the room and sat down in a chair across from Calvin. He took out a pad and pen. He asked Calvin for his full name and asked him to spell it for him. Calvin complied. Ron asked him about the horse stolen at the parade last weekend.
“I don’t know nothin’ about that.” Calvin snarled.
“Well, we know you stole the horse, and you and your brother probably sold him for a few hundred bucks. Were you aware that particular horse is really worth about 2.5 million dollars?” Ron asked. Calvin swallowed hard, and his eyes bugged out a bit at that, but he said nothing.
“If you just tell us what happened, tell us the truth, things will go easier on you,” Ron told him. He looked directly into Calvin’s eyes. “Right now, there are serious charges against you and Danny. Make it easy on yourself and tell me what happened.”
“I want to talk to a lawyer first.” Calvin spat, giving Ron an evil look. “I don’t have to talk to you at all without my lawyer present, you know. I know my rights!”
Ron told Calvin his partner was talking with Danny at that very minute, and Danny was telling him everything.
“Danny’s blaming you for this, you know. Are you sure you don’t want to tell me the truth and make this a little easier on yourself?” Ron asked.
“Like I said, I ain’t talkin’ to you without my lawyer!” shouted Calvin.
He was sweating and tense, pulling on the chain holding his handcuffs to the table. He fidgeted in the chair, which made the ankle bracelets clank.
“Can I have something to drink?” he finally asked.
“Sure, be right back. Any preference? Coffee, Coke, Water?” asked Ron as he stood to leave the room.
“Coke’s fine,” Calvin answered, not looking at him.
Ron conferred with Sheriff Nolan in the corridor. That interview had gone as expected. Ron went to call the DA and arrange for a Public Defender for Calvin.
Detective Brian Nelson was having just the opposite situation in the interview room with Danny. Danny was scared out of his wits. And he wasn’t the brightest bulb in the package either. Danny was spilling his guts.
He told Detective Nelson everything in great detail. Brian secretly thanked the department for the video tape. He couldn’t scribble notes fast enough to keep up with Danny. Brian Nelson kept repeating questions, and Danny answered them the same way every time.
Brian felt Danny was truthful from how he acted, the ease of his delivery when questioned, and his body language. Brian knew the tapes and video would come into court if and when a trial was held. He wanted the story in detail, with everything repeated several times. He kept at it until he got what he thought they needed for a conviction in this case. It took a while.
He offered Danny something to eat or drink. Danny asked for a coke and a sandwich and aspirin for his headache. Brian stood and headed for the door, promising to be back with food and drink in a few minutes.
He met Sheriff Nolan in the corridor. Nolan watched the interview through the two-way mirror. He was pleased. Now all they had to do was pick up the horse where Danny said they’d left him, and the case was solved.