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Beachside PD - The Gypsy Hunter

 

A savage murder . . . a cocaine-crazed Gypsy on the run . . . lives are at stake and the clock is ticking . . . only one man can find him . . . the man Gypsies fear more than any other — Mike Zaragossa: The Gypsy Hunter.

 

Reenter the world of Beachside PD, filled with unforgettable characters like Michael Zaragossa as he makes his way through the mysterious world of the Gypsies, solving crimes from simple scams to murder; Danny and Anna as they hunt for a missing Seminole Indian coed; and crimes, set against the background of the Super Bowl.

 

 

CHAPTER 2

MIKE ZARAGOSSA

 

IT WAS ALMOST DAWN AND the streets were in deep shadow as a convoy of two SWAT vans, a fire truck, and an ambulance moved down the avenue. I was in the first van along with the SWAT Lieutenant, Jamie McCallum, and a half dozen heavily armed officers in the back.

We were serving a warrant on a small-time illegal arms dealer. I had gotten a tip, from one of my Rom C.I.s  that the dealer had just received a shipment of stolen military M9A1 pistols fitted with laser sights. Those guns were far too dangerous to be allowed to hit the streets. The house, in a quiet suburban neighborhood, was at the end of a cul-de-sac and the two vans coasted to a stop on either end of the house. The fire truck parked blocking the entrance to the street.

I was wearing a too-large bullet-proof vest and holding a SWAT helmet.  I looked out at the two story house, it was dark and quiet.

“Ready?” I asked Jamie.

“Fuck yeah. Let's roll,” he said and he clicked his radio three times—the signal to exit the vans and gather around him. The armored and heavily armed SWAT unit officers moved quietly, like shadows in the night. They gathered around Jamie. My two Undercover Unit officers, Andy Bello, and Valerie Gordon, wearing full armor and helmets, stepped to my side.

McCallum pointed to two of his officers and whispered "Back." He pointed to four more and whispered "Right side" and "Left side." The six officers moved off quietly. He pointed at three officers, one who was holding the battering ram, and whispered "Front door." He pointed at the last two and whispered, "Front lawn, back-up."

I advanced slowly behind McCallum with Val and Andy behind me. As we moved onto the wooden porch it creaked and inside a loud buzzer went off. I could hear people shouting and an upstairs window opened.

 

“GO! GO! GO!” MCCALLUM SHOUTED in a rush and we followed the battered down door into the dark house. After that, it was chaos—flashes and sounds of gunfire, people shouting "Police," explosions, and crying babies.

INSIDE I FIRED MY GLOCK 36 at gun flashes that were aimed at me. Bello was alongside Valerie as a man charged her with a machete. He fired his AR-15 at the man who blew back into the dark.

 

AS WE ENTERED THE HOUSE, a hand grenade was thrown out of the upstairs window. The two backup officers dropped to the ground, as it exploded. One officer began spraying the upstairs windows with his AR-15, while the other officer remained motionless—unconscious or dead.

 

IN THE BACKYARD, A MAN jumped from the second floor balcony. “My leg, I broke my leg,” he cried as the two officers handcuffed him. The back door opened—two women, carrying children, came out. One was holding a blanket with an infant. They were both shouting, “Don't shoot. We have the children.”  The officers hesitated and the woman holding the blanketed baby pulled out a pistol and fired at the nearest officer. He was hit in the chest and went down hard, stunned by the bullet’s impact. The second officer raised his AR-15 and shot her dead. As she fell, the blanket opened and what looked like a blood-covered infant rolled out.

 

ON EITHER SIDE OF THE house, the SWAT officers were taking fire from the upstairs windows. They were firing back, as wood and glass flew from their concentrated fire.

 

AS I MOVED THROUGH THE house shouts of "Clear" came from different parts of the first floor and lights were turned on. Officers were handcuffing people, both alive and dead, with plastic ties. I quickly reloaded my weapon with shaking hands. The carnage . . . it looked like the Hollywood set of a “Buckets of Blood” movie. I’d never been in real combat before.

“You okay, Zee?” Andy asked.

“Once I stop shaking.”

“Gather around,” McCallum shouted.

We gathered at the foot of the stairs. “Ambulances, go call for ambulances. A lot of ambulances,” McCallum ordered a SWAT officer.

I could hear gunfire coming from the upstairs.“ We need to clear out the second floor,” I said.

“I know. You, me, Bello, Gordon, Ochoa, and Gonzalez. Everyone check your ammo. Mike grab an rifle.”

A wounded SWAT officer handed up his AR-15 to me. His leg was bleeding and someone had applied a tourniquet. He pointed to his belt and I reached down and took his extra clips. “Hang in there,” I said hoping to encourage him. I reloaded it with a full clip.

McCallum gave us the battle plan. “Ochoa and Gordon follow me. We'll take the right. Mike, you take the left with  Bello and Gonzalez. Be careful . . . and watch out for kids.”

We moved slowly up the stairs. A door opened on my left and a man holding a hand grenade stepped out of a bedroom. I didn’t hesitate—I shot him as he pulled the pin.  The grenade fell out of his hand as he dropped to the floor.

“Down! Grenade!” I shouted. The grenade exploded and I felt shrapnel bounce off my helmet and sting my exposed shoulders and arms. I felt like I was on fire . . . my body went slack, and I rolled down the stairs. I’m dead, I thought when I hit the bottom.

“I gotcha, Zee,” Andy said as he pulled me to a far wall.

“You’re okay, just some scratches. I’ll be right back as soon as we clear that floor.”

I watched as more doors opened and men charged out screaming and firing wildly. It was like a shooting gallery. The officers maintained disciplined fire and eventually the gunfire slowed and stopped. I heard more shouts of "Clear" from the upstairs rooms. With the all-clear, the firemen entered, putting out small fires and the EMTs started helping the wounded. And then it went all black.

 

WHEN I CAME TO I was in an ambulance sitting up on a portable stretcher. Valerie and Andy on either side. My arms were dripping blood and the left side of my face felt like it was on fire. Val was holding a pad against it. I pushed her hand away and the pad was soaked in blood.

“Burns, Val,” I said.

“I know, but I gotta stop the bleeding. You’ll probably need a couple of stitches. It’s small but deep.”

“Cold-Pak.”

“Can’t, until it’s cleaned out.”

My head felt twice its size. I closed my eyes and tried to let the pain fade.

“I told ya to armor up, Zee,” Andy said.

“They didn't have my size.” I started to stand. “It's just a lot of little wounds. I'll wash 'em out at home.”

Valerie pushed me back and I had no strength to resist her.

“Oh no, you stay right here and have the doctors clean out the shrapnel. Then you can go home. I'll stay with you.”

I closed my eyes and the world went away. When I reopened them an EMT was cleaning my wounds with merthiolate.

“How you doing, Mike?” It was McCallum.

“Hanging in there . . . what's the butcher's bill?”

“Good news and bad. For them, eight dead and three critically wounded.”

“And us?” Andy asked.

McCallum paused and took a deep breath. “One dead, two critical, and the others like you have minor wounds, bumps, and bruises.”

“Who bought it?” Andy asked.

”Jackson . . . Ochoa and Simpson are critical.”

“I’m sorry, he was one of the good guys,” I said.

“I know.” McCallum sighed. “I have to tell his wife.”

“Did you find the weapons?”

“Got 'em all. They were in the garage out back. Three cases of the pistols and sights, and we found two cases of Chinese Uzis with enough ammo to blow up the block. Good thing they couldn't get to them.

“We saved a lot of lives.”

“Yeah, but the cost was too fuckin' high. See ya.”

“Who's coming with us?” The EMT asked.

“I am.” said Val. “Andy, would you take my stuff?”

“Sure Val.” She took off the armor, handed it to Bello, and sat down next to me.

“I'll see you in the hospital,” Andy said as he closed the ambulance’s door.

 

I WAS IN BED PAINTED a pinkish red with merthiolate and Band-Aids pasted on various parts of me. Two stitches closed my face cut and a white bandage covered it all. Valerie and Andy were finally leaving. Their fussing over me made me angry. I hated the feeling of being not in control, but I had to stay overnight, in case I was concussed.

“Get some rest,” said Val.

 “Andy, Val.” They stopped at the door. “I’m glad you’re both okay. You did some real good work today. Now, get the paperwork started.”

They both smiled. “Okay, Zee, we’re on it. We'll see you tomorrow.” They left.

I leaned back, closed my eyes, and fell asleep. I woke up with a start from a nightmare—reliving the gun battle. I was parched so I reached over and grabbed the water carafe. I drank from it. The IV drip was not keeping me hydrated. Outside the sun was going down, I’d slept the day away.

My cell phone vibrated—it was one of my Rom informants, Miguel Johnson. I once caught him working as a Mac running a “Curse Removal Scam,” along with his cousins Jaime and Jelisa Grant as the Drag Team. They had taken this old lady for upwards of seventy thousand dollars.

The bank called me in when they saw unusual activity in the woman's account. I had given them a four-hour seminar on Gypsy financial frauds and scams two months earlier.  That was after they had to pay out almost two million dollars in a lawsuit for allowing one of their account holders to be swindled out of their life savings.

Miguel was twenty-three years old and an experienced scammer, while Jaime and Jelisa were fifteen and sixteen respectively. When he said that he would return the old lady's money if I'd let the kids go, I made the deal. His uncle, Enrique Grant, brought a money order for the full amount.

With the payback concluded, Miguel stood to go. I reminded him that the deal was only for the kids, and not for him, he was looking at a five to ten year sentence. He begged and pleaded that as a Gypsy he would die in prison, and if he somehow survived and got out, that he would be declared marimé and ostracized from all Gypsy society.

Time to either put him away or recruit him as an informant, so I said to him in Romani, “Listen my son, we both know what you just told me about marimé is not true.”

He sat back in his chair, looked at me hard and asked, “Quom Son?”

“No,” I answered in English, “I am not Rom, I'm a Gadjo’ Jindadi. I speak the language and I know about Romaniye. You might be able to fool the other Gadjé cops, not me.”

“If you’re not Rom how do you speak the language and know our ways?”

“That, Miguel, is a story for another time or, probably never. Other Rom who have dealt with me call me, Baro Ri, because I deal only with respect. I do not take bribes or gifts, but I will sometimes make a deal for full restitution or information. You can walk out of here today as my C.I.”

“What is C.I.?”

“I want you to be my Confidential Informant and I expect information from you on a regular basis.”

“Do I have a choice?”

“You always have a choice, prison or freedom. Just understand that if you work for me and I catch you in a crime, you will be going away for a long time, marimé or not.”

That was almost two years ago and it paid off in small bits. He gave me several tips on low-level drug deals and non-Rom scam artists. It was probably the same thing now.

“Miguel,” I answered.

“Sergeant Zaragossa, you need to help us, please.” He was panicked and speaking Romani —we usually spoke in English.

“Miguel, I want you to calm down, and slow down, you are speaking too fast and my head hurts.”

“I am sorry, my cousin James Grant, you remember him?” He didn't wait for an answer but went on talking. “He's been arrested for murder and he didn't do it.”

“How do you know?”

“I was with him when it happened and we were nowhere near there. The murder was in West Palm Beach and we were eating dinner at Casa Guadalajara, in Beachside.”

“Miguel, why did they arrest James? They didn’t pick his name out of a hat.”

“His brother Jason and his girlfriend were running a distraction scam on this old guy and Jason killed the mark.”

That surprised me, Rom violence is historically unusual, and a distraction scam is especially designed to avoid confrontations, while the crime is in progress.

“Miguel, how did that happen?”

“Jason was amped on snow . . . and when the old man caught him, Jason chopped him to pieces. They said there was blood and body parts scattered all over the room.”

That made sense, I knew that the younger Rom were using drugs on their home break-ins, they claimed that the cocaine calmed them, but the opposite was happening and people were starting to get hurt.

“The family has been having a lot of trouble with Jason; he left his wife and took up with a Gaiji. The wife’s family called for a Kris Romano, and Jason was ordered to pay a Globa of ten thousand dollars if he didn’t return to his wife. He refused to pay it and his father refused to pay it for him. So Jason and James switched identities and Jason ran away with the Gaiji.

“The police found Jason’s fingerprints on the scene, came to the house, and when James showed them Jason’s ID they arrested him. He’s been charged with First Degree murder. He’s going along with the fraud because he thinks he’s helping Jason, but he’s only digging himself in deeper.”

“Give me a moment.” I drank again from the carafe. “You were saying that Jason ran away with the Gaiji?”

“The Gaiji knew this old man who was loaded, her mother had been doing housework for him. So they went to the house and while she was downstairs with the old man, Jason was upstairs going through the old guy's stuff. When the old man heard Jason upstairs, he confronted him, and Jason killed him. They took his cash and jewelry.”

“Miguel, what do you want me to do?”

“You need to talk to them and get them to release us. I told them we were together at the restaurant, but now they are saying that I was probably in on it and they arrested me. This is my phone call and I called you.”

“I can't help, it's their investigation. If they call me, well then I can get involved.”

“I'll talk to the Gadjo’ Jindadi and ask him to call you, is that okay?”

”Absolutely, you do that.” I closed the phone, turned it off, and went to sleep.

 

THERE WAS NO CONCUSSION AND I was back to work two days later. I was finishing up the report on the raid when the switchboard rang me.

“You have a call, Detective Hall from West Palm Beach PD. Do you want me to put it through?”

“Please, thank you.”

“Is this Detective Sergeant Zaragossa?”

“Yes, this is Michael Zaragossa.”

“This is Detective Albert Hall, West Palm PD. We’re holding two Gypsies here on First Degree Murder . . . and one of them, a Miguel Johnson, claims to be your C.I.”

“Yes, he is.”

“He said that you would vouch for him.”

“He called and asked me to help him, but I said that I couldn't do anything without your request.”

“So, are you ready to alibi him?” Hall said with a touch of hostility.

“No, but I do know that you have the wrong men.”

“You know this how?” His hostility was becoming more apparent.

“I know Miguel, his cousin James and the family for a long time. It's a typical Gypsy trick, James switched identities with his brother Jason and now he's pretending to be Jason. In the meantime, his brother gets further away. James is a wiseass and he'll do anything he can to foul up your investigation, but I also know that he wasn't a part of the murder.”

“And you are sure about all of this?” His hostility was out in the open.

“Switching identities? It's the usual Gypsy response to police. They've been doing it for hundreds of years. There's an old Gypsy saying, “Mashkar le gajende leski shib si le Romeski zor.”

“Huh?”

“Loosely translated, ‘When surrounded by the Gadje,’ that's us non-Gypsies, ‘the Gypsy's tongue is his only defense.’ They will say anything to throw you off their track.”

His frustration erupted, “How the hell do you know so much about Gypsies, especially that these two perps weren't involved in the murder?”

“I know,” I said calmly, “I’m the Gypsy Hunter and if you want to catch the real perp you will give me the weekend to track down the real killer, Jason Grant. We can have this all done by noon, no later than Tuesday.”

“Really, this I've got to see. What do I do with the two I have in custody, give them lollipops and send them home?” I could hear the sneer in his tone of voice.

“Hold on to them. A little jail time won't hurt and don't waste your time questioning them, they won't know any more than they do now.”

“Anything else?”

“See if you can keep them segregated. You don't want them getting roughed up by the other prisoners. I'll call you in twenty-four hours with an update.”

“Okay, I'll hear from you in twenty-four hours.”

“Or sooner. Bye.”

“Or sooner,” he repeated sarcastically.

 

AFTER I FINISHED MY REPORT, I dropped it off with the chief and explained what was happening in West Palm—he said to stay on it. With that, I was dismissed so I went home.

 

 

WHAT READERS ARE SAYING ABOUT THE GYPSY HUNTER

 

5.0 out of 5 stars - Wow!!! By Robert B Myers:

Simply amazing! I'm absolutely hooked on this series and will be moving on to the newest book on Kindle tomorrow, which I hear is a prequel to the first two books!!”

 

5.0 out of 5 stars - Not Another Day at the Office By Linda A. Lavid:

A fast-paced, realistic police procedural that mirrors the dilettante role of police officers everywhere, where no day is like any other. A full-bodied, layered story replete with the intriguing subplots of a gypsy underworld, a murder, a disappearance, and a romance. Remarkable accomplishment for this father and son writing team.”

 

5.0 out of 5 stars - The Gypsy Hunter By KB Schaller:

“The Gypsy Hunter is fast-paced police drama extraordinaire. Its cast of sharply-etched, unforgettable characters and hairpin twists and turns of plot leave the reader breathless with anticipation until the very last page.

Neil and David Yuzuk are skillful storytellers whose fresh and dazzling portrayals clearly reflect today's increasingly multi-cultural society. With its inclusion of the secretive and largely-misunderstood Gypsy culture and Seminole Indian coeds among its diverse cast, it is a story for our time.

Lovers of crime and detective drama will revel in the fresh take on what goes on in the daily operations of police life. The Gypsy Hunter is an excellent read, expertly crafted by this father and son team of exceptional writers.“

--KB Schaller, Author, Gray Rainbow Journey, Journey by the Sackcloth Moon

 

From Zee Gorman: A Riveting and Unforgettable Read!

“In reading “Beachside PD: The Reluctant Knight” – book one of the Beachside PD series, I was pleasantly surprised by its unique approach to crime and corruption. The characters were not stereotypes and the plots were fresh and exciting. By the end of the book, I felt as though Danny Philips and Anna Perez were my close friends and I couldn’t wait to hear more about them

    “Beachside PD: The Gypsy Hunter” does not disappoint. Danny and Anna continue to develop in their work and relationship, now also seen through the eyes of their teenage daughter and an old friend who works in the media. The authors skillfully weave the fabric of reality into the couple’s heart-warming romance, creating unforgettable scenes. On the job and back from FBI training, they spearhead the investigation to find a missing Seminole Indian Nation coed, adding more unforgettable characters to the Beachside series.

    The detective stories now are focused on their colleague, Mike Zaragossa—a character I have come to like. He has no striking physical features, unlike Danny. What he has are extraordinary skills and an iron will; both of which are thoroughly tested by the high profile and complicated cases—from simple scams to murder—that are all the more exciting against the backdrop of the colorful Gypsy culture.

    The cases are real as they’re based on a real police officer known to his fellow officers as the Gypsy Hunter. The authors present this exotic aspect of the story exceptionally well. For me, the novel has served as a textbook about this fascinating group of people: their language, their beliefs, their heritage, and their customs.

    Without a doubt, “Beachside PD: The Gypsy Hunter” is yet another masterpiece by authors Neil Yuzuk and David Yuzuk. It has a one-of-a-kind crimes and detective stories that weave romanticism with realism and action adventure with everyday life’s drama. I love the behind-the-scene police operation details as I did in the first book,  “The Reluctant Knight.” And I love the fun side scenes about the media, the politics, the people, and even the Clintons, who make an appearance at the Super Bowl in this book. Overall it is a riveting and unforgettable read!”

 

FROM: Ken Rotcop, award-winning writer and former Creative Head of four Hollywood Studios: Embassy Pictures, Hanna-Barbera, Cannon TV, and Trans World Productions:

“Police detective, Michael Zaragossa knows Gypsies. He speaks their language, knows their customs, and has their trust. But not everybody loves Gypsies.  And not everybody loves Zaragossa. Gunning down the Gypsy Hunter would make a lot of people happy.

 

Neil and David Yuzuk's fast moving thriller, "The Gypsy Hunter," is a terrific read that kept me riveted on a long flight to Europe.”