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Man

Down

Detective Luis Romero sat on the curb looking down at the pool of blood slowly
growing on the sidewalk beside him. He had been shot and was going into shock.
This was the first time for him and the pain in his shoulder was excruciating. He
thought about his sister as a child in Mexico and the smell of grilled paellas filled his
nose before he passed out.
He was a little more than 10 years old when he saw his first dead body up
close, bullet ridden and rotting, reeking of a weeks worth of decay. The eyes of the
friendly fat man that lived down the end of his dirt road were staring up at him and
his cousin. Bernado lurched his guts out but Luis stood strong and ran quickly back
to tell his grandfather, leaving the other young boy under a tree sweating the hot
august day. 1990 was a violent year for his little town. The drug trade in full swing
and the ease of American dollars and high top sneakers made being a teenager on
that side of the border a dangerous thing. Bernado would be a casualty only two
years later and Bernados sister Elizabeth a widow at 17 with a baby on the way
shortly after. It was at his grandfathers funeral, the old man shot dead on his
birthday, that Luis Romero decided that he was going to make a difference for his
remaining family anyway that he could and that meant getting on the right side of
the law. He was a nave boy but his heart was strong.
On his 18th birthday Luis joined the Mexican state police and within two days
of being there realized that the problem might never be solved, though he was smart
enough to keep his opinions to himself. He quickly learned how the system worked
and that not taking a bribe could be harmful to those he loved. Within 5 years he had
made his way up the ranks with 20 men under him. With influential connections he
started thinking about America and a safe and legal way out for his family. When he
was 25 he put together a case that connected a senior official in the Mexican
government with a gang in Los Angeles, the bust made the national paper and the
worldwide evening news. He now had a target on his head and jumped at the offer
to come to California and work with the DEA. His remaining family went into
witness protection in Nevada. A few years later his citizenship went through and he

was fast tracked through the academy and joined the L.A.P.D.s gang task force as a
detective 2nd class.
It was on this September morning the first day of school and a packed car of
kids with new clothes and backpacks, riding the metro rail into work coffee in hand,
that he spotted the two gang bangers. The colors were self evident but the bulge of
the handgun against white T made it clear. If he called them out in here between
stops someone was going to get killed most likely a child. At the next stop, the two
youths exited the train and just before the doors closed Romero slipped out. The
bustle of the congested business class gave him enough cover not to be noticed.
While keeping his distance, he was able to send a text to his partner. Nick Soleras
another Mexican American and a ten year veteran of the L.A.P.D., was waiting a few
stops from where Romero jumped off. He responded back with meet you at
Starbucks corner with Calvary. Romero shot back quickly Advise Calvary lay back,
no uniforms.
This situation would have to be handled quietly, he wanted no one to die
today, he didnt like death.
At 8:50 the two gang members sat themselves on a bench a couple of doors
down from Grandpoint Bank on Grand Avenue. Romero fingered another text with
location and circumstance. Holy shit, they were waiting for the doors to open, a
fucking early morning bank robbery. The smell of something most foul caused him
to almost drop his phone. A homeless man with a sign around his neck swayed back
and forth kneeling under a blanket on the sidewalk. The sign read THE END IS AT
HAND GET WITH JESUS OR LET THE DEVIL BE YOUR SAVIOR, he just about
chuckled to himself, why cant prophets find good housing.
Soleras was now leaning against the shell of what used to be a phone booth. If
they did it right they could take the bangers from both sides.
Spare some change. Luis looked down and the waif of hideous breath hit him,
the coffee in his belly buckling.
When the shot rang out, Nick almost in slow motion flipped backwards.
Within seconds Romero cut the duo in half and the other punk bolted into the bank.
Alarms were going off everywhere.

Officer Down, Officer Down 355 South Grand Avenue Luis Romero yelled into his
phone.

In a matter of minutes, 10 squad cars had corralled the bank doors. What

happened next scarily reminded him of home. It was something he had heard one of
the Columbian cartels pull off against a team of corrupt Mexican Federales when he
was still a rookie. Its like they were working from the same play book now. Roughly
over a hundred or so boys, no older than 18 wearing the same colors the same
bandanas, started appearing from all directions walking up the street with high
powered machine guns in hand. The police were outnumbered 5 to 1.
When the shooting started Romero yelled into his phone again. SEND
EVERYONE THEY ARE GOING TO MASSACRE US.
The fire fight lasted over an hour. In the end 15 officers were killed and 50
bangers were banged with 60 more in custody. It was the boldest move a gang ever
took against the L.A.P.D. The bank heist it turns out was a rouse and the cops were
the real target. So it was here on the sidewalk with his blood spilling out and the
smell of Mexican food hitting him that Luis Romero started thinking twice about
whether he would ever be able to pick up a gun again, the violence of it all. Humans
are animals he said to himself and then the street went black.

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