The press auditorium at Brooklyn police headquarters appeared under siege.
The space was just about big enough for the crowd pushing and shoving to squeeze in past security checks, the room airless, noisy, electric with tension, reeking of overheated bodies, slush-wet shoes, damp clothes.
Outside, another snowstorm smothered the city.
Inside, District Attorney Cecil King, flanked by homicide detective Lieutenant Florence Ott, approached the lectern in front of the wall-long photographic projection of the F train subway car’s interior and the seven sprawled corpses, all labeled with names and ages, but some key features like a handgun intentionally blurred. Six pictures, and no photo of the end of the subway car with the yellow X on the floor.
From the media mob, a cacophonous barrage erupted.
CECIL KING: Please, we can answer one question at a time, from my right and going across row by row.
TERENCE DANGLER: The Post over here. When were these bodies found? You got nobody arrested yet, what’s going on?
CK: The bodies were discovered just before three this morning. We’ve been working flat out ever since, Mr. Dangler. Check any subway station. The police are out everywhere.
TD: So you--
Q: Who found the bodies?
CK: A retiree.
CK: He’s still being questioned.
Q: How many people on the train?
CK: Eighteen, plus the motorman.
Q: These other passengers, the ones still alive, are they suspects?
CK: The police are interviewing them.
Q: How did the victims die?
CK: We’re waiting for autopsy results.
Q: We don’t see any blood in these pictures. Was it gas?
CK: It could have been.
Q: And it’s clear everyone was murdered? This wasn’t some kind of accident?
CK: It appears intentional, that’s our belief.
Q: What was the weapon?
CK: Like I said, the police are examining all the evidence.
Q: Lieutenant, any arrests?
FLORENCE OTT: So far no suspects, but we’re out there. No one gets away with this massacre. Count on it.
Q: You think it’s one killer or more?
FO: That’s still unclear. We’re drawing no conclusions.
Q: The motive?
FO: They’re cowardly killers, and we don’t know why yet. But we will.
Q: Anyone claim responsibility? Any group? Any known terrorists?
FO: No claims. We’re following every lead. We can’t reveal anything now that might help these killers evade capture. Every subway station has a police patrol on it, the whole city is covered, we don’t expect this to happen again, but we’re prepared. We’re out to get the killers and we’re going to bring them to justice.
Q: Is this like that gas attack years ago on the Tokyo subway? You think it’s some kind of a copycat group?
CK: Tokyo was much bigger, many more deaths.
Q: Did anyone on the F train try to resist the killers?
FO: We’re looking into that right now, it’s still early.
Q: Exactly where did it happen?
FO: We believe the killers struck somewhere between the Borough Hall and Fifteenth Street stations.
Q: This have any connection to some kind of Al-Qaeda cell? Any organized terror group?
CK: So far we’ve no reason to believe so. No claims have been made. And like I said, Lieutenant Ott and her colleagues are looking into every possible explanation.
Q: Could it have been a lone maniac?
FO: Not impossible.
TERENCE DANGLER (agitated): This is absolutely unbelievable. Seven bodies in one place. And you don’t have the slightest idea yet who did this? You got nobody in custody? What about those foreign names up there? Hakim? Panesh? Who are those guys? Who else besides foreign terrorists would commit an outrage like this?
FO: Mr. Dangler, these people have been dead only a few hours. The outrage, as you correctly call it, is being investigated with every available law enforcement resource our city has. The subway system is on full alert with police everywhere. New York transit is safe and it’s working. As soon as we have more developments to report, we’ll let you all know. Immediately. Thank you.
TD: The victims, tell us more about the victims--
CK: You have all the names. Out of consideration for the families, and the police investigation, no further details are available at this moment.
FO: In the back on your way out, you can pick up CD-ROMs with these pictures.
The press conference ended. The crowd began pushing and shouting for press kits, reporters emailing dispatches, attaching files with pictures of the victims.
Television crews wrapped up their live coverage, the commentaries breathless, authoritative, distressed.
And under cover of this maelstrom, District Attorney Cecil King and homicide detective Lieutenant Florence Ott slipped out a side exit and headed back to their offices.
Title: F Train
Author: Richard Hilary Weber
In a fast-paced thriller perfect for readers of Kathy Reichs and Linda Fairstein, dedicated Brooklyn cop Flo Ott unravels the mystery of a terrifying mass murder–from the cold underbelly of New York to the city’s glittering heights.
Beneath Brooklyn’s wintry streets, seven people are dead, slumped in their seats on an F train. Fast thinking and good fortune prevent the subway car doors from opening, spilling poisonous gas into the station. It’s not long before a frightened metropolis of eight million demands answers: if this was an act of terror, where will these cruel killers strike next? NYPD detective Flo Ott looks closely at the victims. Each of their stories leads to another, one more colorful and complex than the last. A few of these quintessential New Yorkers catch Flo’s attention: a mysterious off-duty FBI agent; the beautiful woman next to him, who may have been his lover. Then there’s a Russian mobster with more than his fair share of enemies. As Flo battles false leads, conflicting witnesses, and meddling politicians, her investigation delves into the dark side of the city that never sleeps. Flo becomes convinced that this wasn’t a random act of violence, and she fears something much worse may be rumbling down the tracks.
Richard Hilary Weber, a native of Brooklyn and a Columbia University graduate, has taught at the universities of Stockholm and Copenhagen, and has been a scriptwriter for French and Swedish filmmakers. He lives in Provence, France.
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