continued to move toward him, extending the bottle away from his chest and in line with the muzzle of the gun. The robber fired and the impact of the bullet ripped the bottle from the man’s hands. Almost simultaneously, the man grabbed the barrel of the gun and twisted it outward in a move that Kaulcrick and Kate recognized as one they had practiced dozens of times during defensive tactics training. Once he finished twisting the weapon from the robber’s hand, the robber swung at him, and the man used the gun to strike him in the head. Then, with relative ease, he hurled him through the glass window and immediately ran to the wall that separated the front door from the rest of the bank’s interior.
“This is from a second camera,” Kaulcrick said. The TV screen was filled with static for a second; then, from a different angle, the female hostage who had been held at the front door during the television report came around the corner, followed by the second gunman. The unknown man’s hand flashed forward and shoved his weapon againstthe robber’s neck. After a short hesitation, the bank robber dropped his gun, and when the man stooped to pick it up, he ran. But the man took a few quick steps and caught him immediately.
The robber struck him in the face to no effect. Before the robber could hit him again, the man punched him in the face, buckling his legs. Then the man turned and launched him through the second window. Looking up and realizing everything was being caught on camera, the man turned his head away and started herding the hostages out the door.
While the director nodded his head enthusiastically, Kate sat pensively. Noticing her lack of enthusiasm, he said, “Not impressed, Kate?”
She continued to look at the screen, which was again filled with static. “No, it’s not that….” She didn’t finish her thought.
Lasker asked, “How’d he know there was enough water in the bottle to stop a bullet?”
Kaulcrick said, “I’m guessing he didn’t.”
“Why would someone do something like that?”
“Apparently, he has a screw loose.”
“And they haven’t found out who he is yet?” Lasker said.
“No. Chicago wants to release this to the local media. That’s why they sent it to me, for authorization.”
“Let me know who he is when he’s identified. I’d be interested to know why he’s so camera shy.”
Kate said, “I think I know who he is.”
“You do?” The director turned toward her.
“Sir, you haven’t had the hand-to-hand training we have,but the way he took the gun from the first robber is an FBI move, one we have all practiced many times. That’s what tipped me off. His hair’s a little lighter now, but I think it’s a former agent named Steve Vail. I was a security supervisor in Detroit for two years, and Vail was assigned there. Not on my squad, on the fugitive squad. And I’m pretty sure he was originally from Chicago.”
“He was fired.”
“Not given the option to resign?”
“They gave him the choice, but he refused to respond even though he knew he would be fired.”
“So he could sue?”
Kate gave a quick, full-throated laugh. “I guess I’m not giving you a very clear picture of him. You’re trying to figure him out by the experiences you’ve had with others. No, he’s…probably the best word—the kindest word—is recalcitrant.”
“He’s a pain in the ass.”
“Beyond that. They used to say he bit off his nose to spite his face so many times that he actually learned to like the taste.”
“Then why was he fired? Apparently it wasn’t for a lack of courage.”
“He hated—no, that isn’t right—he simply didn’t recognize authority, at least not incompetent authority. That’s what was so strange about his firing. He could have prevented it by giving up a thoroughly disliked assistant special agent in charge. It all started when a Detroit police officer was shot and killed in the line of duty. They didn’t have