An excerpt from
An NYPD Raid on a Terrorist Cell and Its Aftermath
Jennifer C. Hunt
Paul Yurkiw waited to see whether the ringing would stop before picking up the receiver. Crank calls and false alarms were the bane of Bomb Squad detectives’ existence, and “If the phone don’t ring, don’t pick it up” was the philosophy of least resistance. The silence resumed, and he sunk his head into the pillow and went back to sleep. When the ringing started again and grew persistent, he reached for the receiver, which sat an arm’s length away on a chair, next to a pen and notebook.
“Good morning. Detective Yurkiw, Bomb Squad, can I help you?” Yurkiw answered with the same ten words he’d used since he was transferred into the Bomb Squad in 1993, right after the World Trade Center was bombed. Now they were so ingrained in his head that he sometimes said the same thing when he picked up the phone at home.
It was 1:00 a.m. on July 31, 1997, and he and his partner, Rich Teemsma, were resting in the “Cave,” a small room located next to the Bomb Squad’s main office. The room, which doubled as a galley and a lounge, contained two sets of bunk beds, stacked foot to foot. A refrigerator and other kitchen appliances were built into the opposite wall. Teemsma and Yurkiw were working a double tour in the squad’s 6th Precinct quarters in Chelsea and had been there since 2:00 p.m. the afternoon before. Both were looking forward to 8:00 a.m., when Yurkiw would go home and Teemsma would report to the range to shoot for his annual pistol qualification test.
At 6′2″ and 250 pounds, Yurkiw retained the powerful build of the defensive tackle position he’d played on his high school football team. His head was upholstered in short red hair. He had a red mustache, an oval-shaped face, and puffy cheeks that were burnt pink from playing outside with his two young sons. Before he’d left for work, he had tenderly kissed their faces, a gesture he would repeat throughout their college years.
Paul Yurkiw joined the NYPD in 1982 after he’d earned a college degree and almost completed an M.A. in special education. He, his wife, and two children shared a modest home in a suburb of Long Island not far from Jamaica, Queens. The kitchen, living room, dining room, master bedroom, and a den were on the first floor. The walls in the den were lined with Yurkiw’s awards and medals, including the Medal of Valor. Recently, he’d expanded the attic, adding a new bedroom for the boys and an office for his wife. The sun shined through the skylight and brightened the blond wood of the bedroom furniture.
Yurkiw met Teemsma at the Midtown South Precinct, where both had been assigned after they graduated from the Police Academy. During their first few months, they walked a foot beat. The opportunity arose to get a seat in a car when their boss announced he needed two cops to work the midnight to 8:00 a.m. shift in the 9th Precinct, known then as the “Fighting Ninth” because of heavy crime. When no veteran officers volunteered, Teemsma and Yurkiw grabbed the gig and became steady partners.
They enjoyed the routine, even the trips to take the prostitutes to Central Booking to be fingerprinted and locked up. After a long, dull night downtown, on their way back to the precinct, they stopped at Yurkiw’s Ukrainian grandparents’ apartment on East Seventh Street. As soon as the cops entered the building, they smelled the butter and cinnamon of his grandmother’s freshly baked bread. Once inside, Yurkiw and Teemsma sat at the kitchen table and talked as the elderly couple prepared them a breakfast of eggs, kielbasa, and babka.
A few years after they started working together, Yurkiw transferred to Emergency Service with the help of a well-placed “rabbi” (connection). Teemsma got in later, using the names of the two Emergency Service cops the partners had met on patrol. The night Yurkiw nearly got killed, he was working alone.
Yurkiw was running late when he got in his patrol car and headed toward Queens, where he was assigned as fourth man in one of the unit’s trucks. It was 1:30 a.m. on the morning of June 21, 1989. Not far from a sign to JFK Airport, he saw a car parked on the shoulder of the Van Wyck Expressway. He pulled up behind, thinking the driver needed help. Yurkiw put his radio on the front seat and got out of the car but didn’t call the job in to Central Communications, which broadcasts information to other cops.
“Are you stuck? Do you need a hand?” he asked the man, who had exited his vehicle and was approaching the front of Yurkiw’s car. Before the man could answer, a call came over the radio and Yurkiw turned his head to listen. He heard a loud noise and felt the force of a sledgehammer smashing into his chest and thought he’d been hit by road debris. Then he saw the man’s gun. At close range, it looked like a cannon.
Yurkiw used one hand to push the man’s arm away from his face and, with the other, reached for his weapon, the Smith & Wesson 38 revolver issued at the time. The man fired two more rounds. Yurkiw struggled to push him away, fell back, and emptied six rounds, narrowly missing the man’s head. He tried to reload his gun but dropped his speed loader. The man started to flee, then turned and fired again, hitting the ground below the officer’s knees. Yurkiw leapt into the car for cover and started to load his gun, one round at a time. He grabbed the radio and called for assistance. The transmission was chilling. Yurkiw’s frantic voice broke through, but his words were garbled. Every cop working that night recognized the choking sound of a “10-13.”
“What unit’s calling?” the dispatcher asked.
“Shots fired,” Yurkiw responded, his pitch high and words muddled.
“Shots fired. What’s your location?” the dispatcher asked.
“Van Wyck,” Yurkiw responded, struggling to calm down.
“Van Wyck and where?”
Yurkiw keyed the radio but his words were muddled.
“Unit calling, what’s your location?”
“Rockaway. Past Rockaway.”
“Rockaway Parkway and the Van Wyck. Shots fired over the air. Truck Nine Adam on the air?” the dispatcher asked.
“Adam Nine truck on the way, Central.”
“Rockaway Parkway and the Van Wyck. OK, Lieu [Lieutenant], you go. Rockaway Boulevard and the Van Wyck.”
“He might have said northbound, Central.”
“Central,” Yurkiw said.
“What, Unit?” the dispatcher asked.
“2644, your location?”
“Van Wyck Expressway, just before Rockaway Boulevard.”
“Van Wyck and Rockaway Boulevard. Shots fired. 2644 requesting.”
“Highway, Lieutenant, you want us to respond?”
“That’s affirmative, Lieu, go!”
“Central, a white Maxima,” Yurkiw said.
“OK. A white Maxima. 2644, are you injured?”
“Yes. Shot three times.” His words blended together, and the dispatcher couldn’t understand.
“10-5, are you injured?”
“All right, we’re in route. 2644 requesting. Stay off the air.” The dispatcher ordered all units silent except for those with crucial information.
“Where is he, Central?”
“Rockaway and Van Wyck. 2644 requesting. Hit three times. We’re looking for a white Maxima. First unit there, please advise on the scene.”
“Central, be advised it’s a solo fly-man from Eight Truck.”
“10-4. It’s a solo unit from Eight Truck. It’s a solo unit fly-man,” the dispatcher said. Two sergeants announced they were on their way. Other units called in saying they were in the area but couldn’t find the car and needed the dispatcher to reconfirm the address.
“Unit, I need your location.”
“I think it’s Van Wyck before Rockaway Boulevard. I see a truck unit.” At this point, Yurkiw realized that he hadn’t turned on the turret lights on the hood of the car, and he flipped the switch. A half second later, a cop’s voice came on the air.
“I see him now.”
“OK, they’re coming,” the dispatcher said. The next sound Yurkiw heard was the squealing tires of the Emergency Service truck coming to a halt beside him and then the familiar voice of a cop he knew from the squad.
“Oh my God, Paulie. Take it easy and lie still. Everything will be all right.”
Yurkiw’s hospital stay was short. His vest saved his life and minimized injury. His arms were bruised in the struggle, and his chest felt like it had done time in a blender. Three large bullet holes were burned through his blue uniform shirt. Two penetrated his Kevlar vest to the white lining underneath. The third shot bounced off his chest and shattered the front passenger window, leaving pebbles of glass on the seat. The windows on both sides were smashed as well.
When he noticed the state of the car, Yurkiw was relieved Teemsma wasn’t there because he might have been killed by the ricochet. Yurkiw also knew he was fortunate. Not until after the incident did his bulletproof vest become a regular part of his uniform. Scars remain. To this day he gets nauseated when he smells the scent of burnt black gunpowder.
Emergency cops camped out in Yurkiw’s backyard for weeks after the shooting. They barbecued food, took care of his family, transported him to appointments, and celebrated together when they arrested the shooter, thirty days later, a drug dealer named Sean Boyd. Shortly after, Yurkiw rescinded his request to go to the Bomb Squad, delaying his transfer for several months. The first day he returned to work and opened his locker, he broke into a sweat and started to tremble. He wanted to make sure he still had the heart to do the job.
The morning of July 31, 1997, when he sleepily answered the phone in the Bomb Squad office in the 6th Precinct and started to jot down notes, he didn’t realize he was about to face the sickening shadow of death once again.
“We’ve gotta guy here who doesn’t speak English but we think he’s Middle Eastern. He’s saying there’re bombs in his apartment or something,” the 8-8 Precinct detective explained, then started to elaborate. It was nice to hear a woman’s voice at 1:00 a.m., and Yurkiw hated to interrupt.
“You want us to respond, or you want to call us back? I mean, is there a package?”
“Well, he’s saying they’ve got material in his apartment, some kind of bomb material.” Yurkiw turned on his flashlight and grabbed the pad and pen and started to write down the answers to the who, where, and what questions that applied to the average bomb job.
“OK. Look, the longer I stay on the phone the longer it’s going to take us to get there.” Yurkiw hung up the receiver and announced the job to the other three cops in the Cave. He and Joe McGuire were supposed to be “catching” the call, according to the system of rotation established in the squad.
“Joe, you get that? Teemsma said from the top bunk across from where Jeff Oberdier, alias “Obie,” was lying, listening to the exchange. McGuire was sprawled out with his eyes closed on the lower bunk opposite Yurkiw’s feet.
“Tell him I don’t make house calls,” McGuire replied and pulled the blanket over his face. The job sounded like the kind of unfounded “bullshit” that could last into the morning. McGuire—or “Fatty the Clown,” as some cops called him—preferred to let detectives with less seniority handle the nonsense jobs while he waited for the “big one” to come along.
Annoyed, Rich Teemsma got down from his bunk and stood up straight. At 6′3″, he towered over McGuire. Teemsma had a strong, muscular build from doing construction and yard work. His soft eyes, tan face, salt-and-pepper hair and graying mustache made him look like a Santa Claus minus the belly and beard. At forty-seven years old, he was mature enough to resist the desire to punch McGuire’s face in.
“Goddamned shithead bastard motherfucker, please!” Teemsma said. The ringing started again and Yurkiw picked up the phone.
“We have a grenade over in Queens,” he announced, noting the address.
“Yeah, I’ll take that one,” McGuire piped in. “I’ll take Obie to Queens and handle the grenade. You guys take the one in Brooklyn.” Most grenades are a “walk in the park”—unfounded and quick to resolve, and he knew he’d be back napping in quarters in no time. Yurkiw and Teemsma had been partners for most of their careers. They figured the night was shot anyway.
“OK. Paulie, let’s just get this thing done,” Teemsma said. The detectives called their supervisors to apprise them of the situation and get their consent to proceed. McGuire then headed to the parking lot, followed by Oberdier. A few minutes later, Teemsma and Yurkiw made their way past the desks in the front office and downstairs to the precinct door.
“Cocksucker rat bastard motherfucker, please!” Teemsma cursed when he got outside and saw that McGuire had taken the best car. Yurkiw laughed. Although he rarely used language grittier than “asshole” and “holy shit,” he felt nothing but affection whenever his partner let out a torrent of curses. They were part of the complementary glue that had held them together for years.
Teemsma “breathed fire and blew smoke out of his ears” for fifteen seconds and then regained his composure. He and Yurkiw settled into their truck, revved the engine, and headed south. The last time they’d had a serious threat was in January, when four consecutive calls came in for letter bombs at the United Nations. Yurkiw and Teemsma had been working when the last three arrived. All were live devices, containing the military explosive Semtec.
As they were nearing Brooklyn Heights, they remembered their truck contained only one extra large bomb suit. They called McGuire over the radio to tell him they’d need him to bring them another. When he did not pick up after two tries, they let the matter drop until they got to the 8-8 Precinct. They didn’t want to risk alerting Central if he was somewhere he wasn’t supposed to be.
Rich Teemsma lived in Long Island further east from his partner of almost sixteen years. A talented carpenter, he designed and built the house he shared with his wife and two kids, a son and a daughter. Teemsma grew up in Manhattan, and then moved to Queens and Long Island, changing homes whenever drugs and crime began to submerge the neighborhood, and the white working-class families started to leave.
Teemsma’s father was a cop in the late fifties, assigned to Manhattan’s now-defunct 15th Precinct. Teemsma saw his first dead body when he was five years old. The corpse was laid out on a cement slab in the back of the station house. His father told him the man had fallen down.
“He didn’t tie his shoelaces and tripped,” Teemsma replied.
“Yes, son,” his father said and patted him on the head. In retrospect, Teemsma wondered if the man had taken a swing at a cop and been beaten by the officers in the “house” or jumped off a roof and killed himself.
On another trip to the precinct, Teemsma got locked up by one of his father’s friends who saw him exploring the cell and closed the door. His confinement was short in duration but made a lasting impression. He didn’t want to see the inside of jail again.
Teemsma’s Dutch-Belgian father and Irish mother were strict parents who believed that corporal punishment was the proper means to discipline their nine children. If one of the seven boys or two girls got in trouble, his mother would issue a warning and call her husband. Regardless of when he came home and how many days had passed since the infraction, he would always remember to take out the belt. Teemsma’s father kept the street out of his home but the cop inside. Controlling and suspicious, he tended to treat his children like the people he policed. Teemsma recalled how he would order them to empty their pockets and pat them down when they came inside.
Teemsma spent most of his early years in Catholic school in Queens, which did nothing to enhance his interest in learning. A free spirit who didn’t take well to harsh regimentation and humiliation, he rebelled by refusing to study. When the family moved to Long Island and he began public high school, his grades improved. The nine siblings were tight. They banded together and took care of each other, with the exception of their oldest brother, who tended to bully the others. “It was one for all and all for one,” Teemsma said, with the same soft tone he used on the job. When the family was threatened by outsiders, even his older brother would pitch in to protect the group.
Teemsma tried several careers before becoming a New York City cop. Skilled with his hands and interested in auto mechanics, he built his own cars. At eighteen he joined the Marine Corps and was sent to Okinawa, although he’d wanted to go to Vietnam. In retrospect, he is grateful he didn’t get what he wished for. Today, when he thinks of young men dying in another pointless war, his chest aches. After three years of military service, he began working for an uncle who was a vice president of a small airline. Teemsma explored the world. Africa, Europe, and South America were some of the places he traveled to. On one trip to the Middle East, he visited Mecca.
In 1980, when he was thirty years old, he married a bright, twenty-four-year-old beauty named Kimberley, who worked for Estée Lauder. A year later, the couple had their first child, a girl, and soon after that a son. Neither of the children were physically disciplined or attended Catholic school. The Teemsmas believed in a merciful God.
Teemsma joined the New York Police Department in 1982. After he and Paul became steady partners, they leapfrogged through their careers, ending up working together, except for brief spells when their bosses decided they were too close for comfort and had to be split up. On January 25, 1986, Teemsma joined Yurkiw in Emergency Service. He remembered the date because of the newspaper headlines announcing that the space shuttle Challenger had blown up.
Both cops enjoyed working in the unit. Interaction with the public on nonsense jobs was less than in the precinct, and there were opportunities for adventure. Shortly after Hurricane Hugo devastated Puerto Rico, the department initiated its first foreign rescue and recovery mission. Teemsma volunteered. He helped build roads through the rain forests, repair the water supply, and construct new houses.
In 1991, Teemsma decided to put in a transfer to the Bomb Squad. His reasons were simple. He’d been in Emergency Service a number of years and wanted to learn new skills. He liked working with his hands and didn’t want to be trapped in an office writing reports. He also wanted a promotion.
“Well, they tell you if you’re going to leave a good assignment you should move up, not down, so the Bomb Squad seemed like the logical choice. I also wanted to make detective. Cops in the Bomb Squad automatically receive a promotion to detective third grade.”
For the first few years, Teemsma enjoyed the job, although he missed the camaraderie and team orientation of Emergency Service. Bomb Squad cops usually worked alone and were individualistic. The principle of “All for one and one for all” didn’t apply.
Teemsma and Yurkiw pulled into the parking lot of the 8-8 Precinct and got out of the car. The 8-8 is housed in a prewar building expertly constructed in red brick with plaster walls, a high front desk, and a staircase made of solid oak. Like most police facilities, the precinct was in bad shape. The station house walls were dirty and peeling, the plaster so full of stress fractures that it looked like it had suffered an earthquake. The floor hadn’t been mopped with fresh water for years, and the windows were cloudy with dirt.
The two partners headed past the dingy red-and-blue-painted foyer toward the stairwell in the back. As soon as they walked into the squad room, the precinct detectives launched into a graphic description of the “little monster” who was the duty chief that night. The “Tasmanian devil” himself, he had commandeered the precinct and had to be handled with kid gloves. Yurkiw understood. “You know a boss is a boss is a boss. He’s got a job to do so sometimes you can’t be everybody’s friend. You got a job, and you do it the best way you see fit.”
Teemsma and Yurkiw introduced themselves to the informant, then took him into a small interrogation room and sat down at the table. The informant, Mohammed Chindluri, was a small, thin, dark-haired man in his mid-twenties. He’d gotten his U.S. visa by winning a lottery in his native country of Pakistan. Shortly after arriving at JFK, a cabdriver had taken him to the Carter Hotel, where he spent the night. The next day he went to a Brooklyn mosque to ask if anyone knew where he could spend the night. He’d been directed to the apartment at 248 Fourth Avenue, where three other Muslims were already living.
Two were Palestinian immigrants who had come to the United States using Jordanian passports. The third man was another Pakistani who barely knew his roommates. Chindluri viewed the small, crowded apartment as a temporary arrangement until he could get settled and find a more desirable home. He had been in the apartment a few days when he began to suspect that his roommates were up to no good.
The suspect, who called himself Gazi Abu Mezer, was intense and angry. His frequent discussions of Middle Eastern politics were laced with a fanatical rage that went well beyond the bounds of normal political passion. Chindluri then began to notice the piles of anti-American propaganda that littered the room, some of it calling for violence and jihad.
Concerned about their intentions, Chindluri began to ask questions. Soon, the suspects showed him a bag filled with homemade explosives. They also revealed their plot: they planned to detonate the device in the Atlantic Avenue subway station during the morning rush hour.
The Atlantic Avenue station connects ten subway lines and the Long Island Railroad. These include the 2 and 3 trains to the Upper West Side, the Bronx, and Harlem; the 4 and 5 to Manhattan’s Upper East Side, east Harlem, and the Bronx; and the N and R, which connect Brooklyn and Queens through Manhattan. On weekday mornings, tens of thousands of New York City residents and suburbanites are released into the bowels of the transit system. An explosion could result in massive fatalities.
Around 10:00 p.m. the night of July 30, Chindluri made his escape, claiming he had to buy cigarettes. Before he left, the suspects warned him that if he wasn’t back within a few hours they’d assume he’d gone to the police. Frightened, he fled into the empty streets. He found a pay phone and dialed the operator in the hope that she would recognize the crisis and connect him to the authorities. Unable to understand his accent, she hung up the phone instead.
Chindluri headed toward the subway station where he encountered two Long Island Railroad cops, John Kowalchuk and Eric Huber. According to the cops, the informant appeared agitated, gesturing wildly and talking in Arabic and broken English that was difficult to follow. Every officer I talked to agreed that they might have been tempted to dismiss his fears as fantasy and send him on his way. Police routinely encounter people who are emotionally disturbed, and as long as they are not a danger to themselves or others and no one has complained, the cops can’t do very much.
Huber and Kowalchuck decided to play it safe. They called an officer at their headquarters who alerted the NYPD. Christopher Caruso and James Christi, two officers from the 8-8 Precinct, were dispatched to the subway station to meet the informant. Although they saw that Chindluri was frightened and desperate, they weren’t convinced he was crazy. When he repeated the word “bomba” and made explosion gestures with his hands, they decided to bring him to the “house.”
Huber, Kowalchuck, Christi, Caruso, and the informant got into the patrol car and drove to the 8-8 Precinct. Once there, Chindluri was taken upstairs and handed over to the detectives. Joseph Palermo of the 8-8 Squad called the Operations Division and requested a translator. Meanwhile, he began to conduct an interview. Huber and Kowalchuck stayed in the precinct while Caruso and Christi went back on patrol.
The Bomb Squad was alerted, and the duty inspector, the duty captain, and duty chief called to the scene. When Chief Charles Kammerdener arrived, he spoke briefly to the informant, then ordered detectives to conduct computer checks to assess the criminal status of residents at Chindluri’s address. The results were negative. No one living at 248 Fourth Avenue had been arrested or was wanted on a criminal warrant.
Kammerdener was alarmed that some had Middle Eastern names. According to the informant, the ringleader Mezer appeared friendly with some of the residents, and so Kammerdener feared they might also be terrorists. He proceeded to take the next step, alerting detectives in the Intelligence Unit to use their access to the Immigration and Naturalization Service database to check the immigration status of Chindluri’s roommates. That check also came back negative. None of the suspects were registered as legal immigrants in the United States.
Kammerdener was not convinced the informant was reliable. Nevertheless, he began to initiate the department’s mobilization plan, securing the inner and outer perimeter around the building, and staging emergency personnel. He also implemented phase one of the evacuation procedure, securing transportation and a temporary base for evacuees. Police officers from the precinct Anti-Crime Unit were sent out to survey the block where the suspects’ building was.
“Now the remarkable part is that at that time of night these officers took it seriously and. . . . kicked it up to higher levels,” explained Bill Morange, chief of the Special Operations Division. Keith Ryan echoed his sentiments: “Thank God nobody dropped the ball. Nobody took him for an EDP [emotionally disturbed person].”
The air conditioner coughed and rattled, emitting spurts of tepid air that barely cooled off the small interview room where Chindluri was sitting with Yurkiw and Teemsma. His brow was moist from sweat, and his hands were shaking. The police translator hadn’t yet arrived. Teemsma handed Chindluri a cup of water, a legal pad, and a pen and gestured for him to draw what he had seen.
The informant sketched a cylindrical object with two end caps and a length of wire. Surprised, the two detectives looked at each other. According to Teemsma, a more precise drawing could not have been made by an engineer. “He drew the best pipe bomb I ever saw,” Yurkiw explained. Convinced that they had to take the next step, Teemsma and Yurkiw took Chindluri outside and looked for the “devil chief” they’d been warned about.
Charles Kammerdener was sitting at a desk in someone’s office, no one recalls exactly where. As citywide duty chief, he was responsible for any major event that occurred on his watch. A small, lean, wiry man with a graying crew cut, wrinkled skin, and a perpetual tan, he’d been in the Housing Police Department for many years before it merged with the NYPD. An ambitious, serious, and hardworking boss in his early fifties, he’d reached the rank of assistant chief and probably hoped to add more stars.
After Yurkiw and Teemsma asked the chief permission to speak, the three walked into the interview room so they could talk in peace. Yurkiw and Teemsma schmoozed for a few minutes to pacify the chief. By the time they revealed the drawing, Kammerdener had retracted his “horns,” and he seemed relaxed.
“Chief, take a look at this. What does it look like to you?” Yurkiw paused to give him time to reflect. “If it looks like to you what it looks like to us then we think we have a working job. What we could do is call Emergency Service and when they show up, we’ll go through the numbers. We let them do their job and, in the event there is a working device, then we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. It’s almost three o’clock in the morning. If we have to do an entry, we should hit them in the dark. We’re from Emergency Service. We know how they work,” Yurkiw said.
“And they know how we work. We’ve worked together a lot,” Teemsma added. Kammerdener looked thoughtful. Then he told the detectives he thought it best to wait until daytime to execute an entry or other type of tactical solution. Bodies were scarce on midnights. Some rank-and-file officers believed that part of his hesitation also involved his career. He didn’t want to take rash action that could get cops and civilians hurt and make him look bad to those above. Few officers of high rank would fault him for this sort of caution. Above the rank of captain, promotions are awarded at the discretion of the police commissioner. Kammerdener could get flopped four ranks if he made a call that embarrassed the department.
“The element of surprise is on our side between 3:00 and 5:00 a.m. before people are up and about. If we wait for daylight, we’re talking seven o’clock. What if they wake up and see this guy is gone and they panic and grab the device and leave. It’ll turn into a waiting game,” Yurkiw said.
The chief listened but dug in his heels and insisted on postponing action until the day tour began. Just before Yurkiw and Teemsma gave up and started to leave, a blonde inspector walked in. She didn’t look happy. Teemsma thought that maybe she’d just been reamed out by superiors or held responsible for making the call that brought the “Tasmanian devil” into the precinct and letting him take control. Regardless of the reason, Teemsma was awed by her nerve. “I’ve never heard anyone talk to a superior officer like that,” he explained.
“Chief, did I hear you right? What I’m hearing simply cannot be true. We’ve got bombs. We have to do this now. The only way we have a shot at stopping these guys is if we take them by surprise. We wait until tomorrow, we’ll be picking up body parts,” the inspector said, according to officers’ recollection.
“It was like my wife yelling at me,” explained a detective who was standing outside with his ear to the door and who did not want to be named. Yurkiw looked down, avoiding Teemsma’s eyes and braced his shoulders, waiting for the fallout.
“Well, OK. We’ll see what Emergency has to say,” Kammerdener said, to the surprise of both detectives, who realized that Chief K was more reasonable than they’d initially thought. Within four minutes, Ray McDermott, the executive officer of the Special Operations Division, was notified. Nick Mancini, the captain of Emergency Service, and his lieutenant, Larry Dwyer, were called as well as Emergency Service bosses and cops who were already working in Brooklyn and Queens.
Yurkiw and Teemsma dialed Emergency Service headquarters and told them they’d probably need the TCV, or total containment vehicle, depending on how the job materialized. They also called McGuire, who was back in a “reclining position” in the Cave and didn’t answer the phone. Jeff Oberdier was walking Rocky, one of the Bomb Squad dogs, and there was no one but Joe “Fatty” McGuire to handle calls. A few minutes later, Teemsma tried again but hung up after twenty rings. Finally, the third time around, McGuire picked up the receiver. Teemsma told him they needed an extra large bomb suit.