Chapter 9:
The Stought brothers and Dan told the police what had happened. They also explained that their father worked at the hospital and were worried about him. The Lagos police made sure the boys were okay. They instructed a medical team to check Heathcliff since he took a blow to his head. Reggie called their mother and told her what happened while the medical team quickly examined Heathcliff.
"We’ve contacted the Lagos Tranquility General Hospital and told them to evacuate," Officer Wiwa told the boys after the medical team finished examining Heathcliff and Reggie ended his call. "We’re sending additional police and security to help them."
"Can you give us a ride to the hospital?" Heathcliff asked Officer Wiwa. He held the ice pack the medical team had given him by his side. Water soaked his hand and dripped to the dirt and grass.
Officer Wiwa shook his head. "No. No. No. You boys are not going anywhere near that area," he said.
"Well, can you at least give us a ride to where they’re evacuating people so we can see our dad?" Reggie asked. "When I called our mother she said she was going to the hospital. So she’s going to be in the area too."
Officer Wiwa agreed to take them there.
Dan wanted to come along, explaining that he could help the Stought brothers navigate the area when they were dropped off. Officer Wiwa told his superior what they were doing and then all four of them were on the way to find Geoffrey and Cordelia Stought.
Reggie and Heathcliff sat in the back of Officer Wiwa’s police car and Dan sat up front in the passenger seat. They were soon on the road but they hit a lot of traffic and they quickly came to a near standstill.
"Traffic keeps getting worse in Lagos," Officer Wiwa said as he turned up the air conditioning a notch. "But I guess it must be nothing compared to what you American boys are used to with your big cities," he said to the Stought brothers.
"Actually," Reggie said, "we grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. We’ve traveled to other parts of the U.S. but we probably learned more about cities from visiting other countries."
Officer Wiwa said, "Oh," and nodded his head. The car then became silent and remained that way until they finally passed through the traffic jam.
Officer Wiwa now drove at the regular speed limit. About two minutes after they had passed through the traffic jam a dispatcher came over the radio and mentioned that another Lagos police officer had spotted Rasheed Al-Tikriti.
The dispatcher said the officer was on foot but noticed Rasheed as he drove by him on the street. The officer had recognized Rasheed from the description the Stought brothers had provided of him. The dispatcher said that he was now driving a truck on a street with a name the boys didn’t quite catch. But Officer Wiwa did.
"We’re only a few blocks away from that," he said right before grabbing the radio handset in his car. He advised the police dispatcher that he was nearby and he would find the truck and follow it. "Sorry, boys, but we’re going to have to delay that trip to see your parents."
"That has to be the VBIED," Heathcliff said, referring to the truck Rasheed was driving.
"That’s right," Officer Wiwa said. He turned right at the next intersection he reached. He accelerated to above the speed limit.
"Aren’t you going to turn on your lights and siren so we can get past everyone?" Dan asked.
"No," Officer Wiwa told him. "We don’t want to let him know we’re coming."
Officer Wiwa made another turn and about three minutes later they spotted the truck the dispatcher had described over the radio. Officer Wiwa stayed at least 100 yards back the entire time. Even without the lights and siren, if Rasheed saw the distinctive police car, he might catch on that they were following him.
Reggie and Heathcliff leaned forward and tried to get the best view they could out of the windshield. Rasheed turned down a street and then they did too. Officer Wiwa received another call on the radio. The dispatcher informed him that his fellow police officers were now setting up roadblocks on the route Rasheed would have to take to get to the hospital. The roadblocks were disguised as construction zones. The plan was to divert Rasheed and his VBIED away from the hospital and to an area with few people and buildings. If they could get him to it, they could attempt to stop him. If he detonated the VBIED there, they hoped it would cause minimal damage.
"So, wait a minute," Reggie said to Officer Wiwa, "do they have everyone evacuated from the hospital? Is our dad in danger of being killed if you don’t divert Rasheed?"
"I don’t know if everyone is out of the hospital," Officer Wiwa replied. "All we can do right now is try to guide Rasheed into the zone where he hopefully can’t hurt anyone."
Reggie and Heathcliff looked at one another. The staff would have been able to evacuate the hospital rather quickly if they were the only ones there. But they had patients to take care of. It would take a lot of time to get them out. And what if doctors were operating on patients right now and couldn’t stop? They wouldn’t be able to leave the hospital right away. And what if their dad was one of the staff who stayed behind to help?
The Stought brothers, Dan, and Officer Wiwa continued following Rasheed as he drove the route the Lagos police wanted him to go. Officer Wiwa stayed in contact with the radio dispatcher so he could advise her of exactly where Rasheed was. This helped the police force be certain where they needed to set up the next roadblock.
"Okay, we’re almost there," Officer Wiwa told the boys after another ten minutes of driving. "Once he passes through that intersection ahead other officers will rush in and block off the road. That’s where we want him."
They were now in a much less populated area of the city. Reggie and Heathcliff looked out the windows. No one was in sight. There weren’t as many buildings in this part of the city either. There was an open lot with a fence around it near Rasheed’s VBIED. And there was what looked like a rundown park to the left of them.
All four of them watched Rasheed carefully drive through the intersection. Once he did that, Officer Wiwa stopped the car.
"All right. Get out. All three of you," he told them. He interrupted when one of them started to object. "No time for arguments. Go someplace safe; away from here."
The boys all got out of the car and watched Officer Wiwa drive toward Rasheed and his VBIED. They moved to the left side of the road and went into the abandoned park, standing behind some small trees.
The brake lights on the VBIED glowed red. Rasheed had stopped. He had only moved a few feet past the intersection. The police who were hiding in a building 50 feet to the right of the intersection waiting to block off the road didn’t move. They wanted Rasheed and his VBIED to be further in before they did that.
Reggie and Heathcliff noticed the flashing of the reverse lights on the VBIED. Rasheed had put the vehicle into park. Ten seconds passed and nothing happened. Then, all three boys watched as the driver’s side door flung open. Rasheed jumped out of it. They saw he had a long gun in his hands. He ran towards the empty lot next to him, squeezing through a missing panel in the fence.
The Lagos police officers now rushed out of the building on the right side of the road, sprinting towards the lot where Rasheed had gone. The boys saw them reach it and then they heard gunfire.
All three of them flinched.
"I think we need to get farther away from here!" Heathcliff said.
"Let’s go over there!" Reggie said, pointing to the crumbling remains of a building deeper into the old park.
"I was thinking of moving away from the gunfire, not sideways to it!" Heathcliff said. But it didn’t matter. Reggie and Dan were already running towards the old foundation and its remaining standing wall.
Heathcliff followed. The three of them breathed a little hard when they were behind the cinder blocks, listening to the periodic pops of the guns.
The pops of the gunfire didn’t sound like in the movies. Those were loud booms. This sounded more like firecrackers.
And then all the noise stopped.
"Maybe they got him," Dan said. He had his hands on his knees and peered around one of the corners of the old wall. "No, they didn’t," he added. "Look," he said to Reggie and Heathcliff as he pointed to the fenced-in lot.
The Stought brothers peeked around the wall too. They saw Rasheed struggling to climb over the fence which was about eight-feet high. He made it to the top, and then dropped to the ground on the outside of it. He got up and began jogging with a limp. He no longer had a weapon. But the boys were still very concerned.
After all, Rasheed was jogging straight towards where they were in the abandoned park.