Friday, February 17, 2017



"Ronan exited onto the Lee Street off ramp. He slowed, crossed the Elk River Bridge and then drove past various downtown Charleston intersections. Passing by the Marriott and the Embassy Suites Hotels, along with Laidley Tower, he made his way to Capitol Street. Realizing where he was, he slapped the dashboard in disgust. Despite having lived in Charleston for over fifteen years, Ronan still had trouble remembering that Capitol Street was a one-way thoroughfare, and he was about to turn the wrong way. Just beyond Taylor Books, he slammed on his brakes to avoid hitting a crowd of people that stood circling in the street. Some were screaming while others waved at the traffic and pointed toward the Two Minute Warning Sports Bar. In front of the bar, three bodies stood huddled together just outside the swinging glass doors. Several shrieks and gasping pleas for help echoed around the street as cars, now blocked by Ronan’s truck, screeched to a halt. Capitol Street had suddenly lost its charm and seemed grubby and craggy. Ronan charged into the huddled group and shoved them aside. A burly white man with short hair held a fair-haired young man stationary while a black man punched and kicked him. The kid gasped and heaved as his body became limp. When the burly man and his partner saw the globs of blood streaming from their helpless victim’s nose and mouth, they ceased the relentless attack. Ronan inched closer. Finally, the burly man loosened his grip, and the youth took full advantage of the respite. Spitting a wad of blood onto the street, he reared back and stuffed an elbow into the gut of his heavyset captor. In response, the man’s partner swung at him but missed. The young man countered, clawing at his second assailant. The black man shrieked in pain, and a grotesque squelching noise erupted from his throat as his eyeball exploded; blood oozed down his face. “Stop! Police!” Ronan demanded in a deep, even tone. One of the men turned to face Ronan who was now a few feet away. Sensing a chance to escape, the kid lunged forward. But the burly man collected himself and grabbed an arm, jerking him backwards. The bone made a horrendous cracking noise, and the young man toppled to the ground and vomited. The black man pulled a revolver from his pants and pulled the trigger, sending a few shots into the air. Ronan pointed his weapon toward the sky and yelled, “Everybody get down!” The spectators screamed and tried to escape. Many of them ran into and over each other. Some folks squatted close to the street, collapsing together in clusters, in an attempt to shield themselves from any stray bullets. Ronan lunged for the shooter, but a fleeing woman tripped him, and he fell forward—mere inches from the shooter. With his arms grazed in blood and vomit, Ronan called out again, “Police! Drop the weapon. Now!” The man cast a vicious look down at Ronan. With a cop’s instinct and lightning reflexes, Ronan steadied his service weapon at the exact same time the black man pulled his own weapon from its hiding place, settled it on the young man and pulled the trigger. A loud crack followed by the tight whine of the gun echoed through the crowd as the bullet discharged. Michael Warner dropped to one knee and rolled onto his side. “Police! Drop the weapon. Now!” The man cut a sharp look at Ronan from the corner of one eye and pointed the gun down at Michael. “I said, drop the gun. If you don’t, I’ll shoot.” In a fit of rage, the man stepped toward Ronan, grabbed his jaw, and shoved his face to the side. From behind, he felt a powerful roundhouse kick to the ribs. He howled in pain but managed to hold his position over the shooter. What should I do? Ronan thought. I’m stuck. That’s what. Several additional kicks to the ribs followed, and the black man squirmed away. As Ronan rolled over, the burly man slammed the end of his boot into him, this time knocking all the air from his body. Moments after Ronan rolled over, he saw a thin flash of silver. Then he felt something cold and sharp slice into his side. He gasped for breath; the intense pain making him forget all about the throbbing in his ribs. The two men hurriedly fled the scene, and despite all the screaming around him, Ronan could hear their light, uneven footsteps quicken and then fade away. A man and a woman soaked in sweat and looking disheveled knelt in front of Ronan and the injured young man. “Call 911! Now! This kid needs help,” Ronan commanded. His tongue felt thick and heavy as he spoke, but the couple understood the words. He nodded in gratitude and then grabbed the cell phone from his pocket and called in the incident. “It’s going to be okay, son. Hang in there.”"

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