Thursday, April 30, 2020

Fifty Five Years Ago The Aircraft Carrier USS Kitty Hawk Was Placed In Commission

The National Naval Aviation Museum released the above photo of the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk and noted that fifty-five years ago yesterday, on April 29, 1961, the Kitty Hawk was placed in commission.

My late father, Edward Davis, a WWII Navy UDT frogman, took me to the commissioning ceremony at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. I was 11 years old. 

I was 17 years old in 1970 when I enlisted in the U.S. Navy and after Boot Camp I reported to the USS Kitty Hawk at the naval base at Bremerton, Washington.

You can read about the USS Kitty Hawk on "Yankee Station" during the Vietnam War via the below link: 

The Mayo Clinic: Can COVID-19 Spread Through Food, Water, Surfaces And Pets?

The Mayo Clinic offers a primer on how COVID-19 spreads.

You can read the post via the below link:

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

FBI: Child Predator Jailed for Life

The FBI released the below information:
When FBI Indianapolis Special Agent Ryan Barrett was the newest member of the field office’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, a more seasoned agent wanted to show him what they were up against.
“We had a program that tracked the use of a file-sharing program popular with people trading images of child sex abuse,” Barrett said. “The agent asked the database to show a dot for every user in the state of Indiana. The whole map lit up red.”
Barrett stressed that those results are not unique to Indiana—any populated area in the United States and many other countries would show some number of people viewing and trading this content.
“I could be working these cases 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year,” Barrett said.
Though the scale is daunting, it doesn’t stop task forces supported by the FBI from trying to put an end to child exploitation. “No one is going to rest until kids are safe,” Barrett said.
Every case matters, but after 11 years on the task force, Barrett knows to prioritize cases that will make the greatest impact. That means pursuing large trading networks and groups, going after the people who are producing the materials, and tracking online predators engaged in sextortion.
It is work that often requires patience and tenacity.
Several years ago, Barrett got a tip from a Ukrainian citizen concerned about the activity of Charles Skaggs, Jr., an American who claimed to be running a non-profit for Ukrainian orphans. There wasn’t much in the tip for the FBI to go on, but the name of Skaggs’ organization raised immediate alarm.
The name of the so-called orphanage was the same as a widely circulated series of child abuse videos. “The fact that this guy names his orphanage after that—the second I saw it I was like, ‘Oh no,’” Barrett recalls.
At the time, it was difficult for Ukrainian authorities to help the investigation because the country was consumed with a war. So Barrett asked for the support of Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Customs and Border Protection in monitoring Skaggs’ trips in and out of the country. It was then a matter of keeping tabs on Skaggs and waiting.
In December 2016, more than a year after the FBI received the tip, agents from Homeland Security Investigations and Customs and Border Protection stopped Skaggs for additional screening when he arrived at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport from Ukraine. When asked if he had additional cell phones, electronics, computers, hard drives, thumb drives, or any other computer equipment on him or in his luggage, Skaggs told agents he did not.
But in their search, the agents uncovered several thumb drives from his bag that were later found to contain child sexual abuse images, including videos Skaggs had made of a child who often stayed in his Indiana home.
While he was in detention awaiting trial, Skaggs asked his son to retrieve a hard drive he had hidden in the ceiling of his apartment building’s laundry room. That hard drive also contained images of child sexual abuse.
Skaggs was tried in July 2019 and convicted of nine counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, two counts of possession of child pornography, and one count of concealment of evidence. He was sentenced to life in prison on January 30, 2020.
Barrett said judges in Indiana and across the country are recognizing the seriousness of these offenses and handing down lengthy sentences to offenders. He said that should be a warning to anyone who is hurting children or viewing the photos and videos that document their abuse.
Barrett’s other warning is to parents and caregivers: Make sure you’re talking to your children regularly as they spend time online. His plea carries even more urgency as children across the country are relying on the internet more as classes and assignments have moved online.
“The web is great for so many good things, but it’s really bad for a few really bad things,” Barrett said. One of the bad things, he said, is allowing child predators easy, immediate access to millions of children.
Remember all those dots on the map showing people using a file-sharing program to view abusive material? Each of those individuals has an internet connection, which is all a predator needs to reach out to young people who are also online.
Caregivers need to find age-appropriate ways to explain to children that the person who wants to chat with them on an app or game or who wants a picture of them could be a real danger. Barrett said most of the child exploitation cases he now sees have an online origin, and children can be harmed even if they never meet up with the predator.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Babylon Bee: Inspiring: Celebrities Spell Out 'We're All In This Together' With Their Yachts

The Babylon Bee strikes again with their satirical slam at celebrities.

MALIBU, CA—Many described the scene as breathtaking or awe-inspiring. Others were so touched they couldn't find the words to communicate how they felt. Most simply wept. 

No matter how they expressed their emotions, everyone agreed that the scene off the Malibu coast Monday morning was exactly what America needed to get through this pandemic. Celebrities gathered their multi-million-dollar yachts on the waters of the Pacific Ocean and spelled out "WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER." 

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

A Little Humor: Getting The Sunday Newspaper

A drunk on a bender checked into a motel late one Saturday night.

He woke up hung over badly. He opened his motel room door and saw a man walking by.

He paid the man to go and buy him a bottle of whiskey and a Sunday newspaper.

The man was gone for hours When he finally returned, the man said, “It must be difficult to buy a 
bottle of whiskey in this town on Sunday.”

“There was no trouble with the whiskey,” the man replied. “But it’s tough finding a Sunday 
newspaper on a Tuesday."

Note: The above photo is of actor Hal Smith, who portrayed Otis, the town drunk on The Andy 
Griffith Show.

Monday, April 27, 2020

CDC Draft Outlines Phased Reopening Of Child Care, Religious Institutions, Food Industry Amid Coronavirus reports that the CDC has drafted proposed guideline for a phased reopening of the economy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has drafted proposed guidelines for a phased reopening of the economy as some states begin to lift stay-at-home orders and resume operations amid the coronavirus pandemic, Fox News has learned.

Fox News obtained a copy of the 17-page draft proposal on Monday, which contains guidelines for child care centers, schools, day camps, faith-based institutions, bars and restaurants and public transportation, and an outline of specific directions for each sector. 

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Saturday, April 25, 2020

The Babylon Bee: Majority Of Americans Would Rather Risk COVID Death Than Endure Any More Skype Lectures From Celebrities

The Babylon Bee offers a satiric shot at pompous lecturing celebrities:

U.S.—A recent survey revealed that a majority of Americans are ready to get back to work. Even when asked if they realize that getting everybody back to work right now could increase deaths from COVID-19, most responded that they were willing to die if that's what it took to end the nightly parade of self-important late show hosts scolding them all for needing money from the comfort of their fancy homes getting paid millions to shame-Skype America. 

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: 

Retired Navy SEAL Jack Carr On The Hunter, The Hunted, and “The Most Dangerous Game" offers a piece by Jack Carr, a retired Navy SEAL and author of The Terminal List, True Believer and Savage Son, on hunting, war and the classic short story, The Most Dangerous Game.

I was, and remain, a student of war and of the hunt. Experiences in combat and in the backcountry helped shape me into the citizen, husband, father and writer I am today. The one has made me better at the other. I suspect it has always been this way. It is the feelings and emotions from those most primal of endeavors that form the foundation of Savage Son. 

I was first introduced to Richard Connell’s masterpiece, “The Most Dangerous Game,” in junior high school. Connell, a veteran of World War I, published his most celebrated short story in Collier’s Weekly in 1924. Upon that initial reading, I was determined to one day write a modern thriller that paid tribute to this classic tale, exploring the dynamic between hunter and hunted.  

Providing for and defending my family and country are hardwired into my DNA. Perhaps that is why “The Most Dangerous Game” resonated with me at such an early age, or maybe those primal impulses are in all of us, which is why Richard Connell’s narrative continues to endure almost a century after it was first published.

Fast-forward thirty years. As I prepared to leave the SEAL Teams, I laid out all my ideas for what was to become my first novel, The Terminal List. The plot for Savage Son was among several of the storylines I was contemplating as I decided how to introduce the world to James Reece. 

For that first outing, I knew my protagonist was not yet ready for what I had in store. I needed to develop him through a journey, first of revenge and then of redemption, before I could explore the dark side of man through the medium of the modern political thriller. Is James Reece a warrior, a hunter, a killer? Perhaps all three?

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: 

You can also read Richard Connell’s The Most Dangerous Game via the below link: 

And you can read my Counterterrorism magazine Q&A with Jack Carr via the below link:  

Thursday, April 23, 2020

The Poet Laureate Of The CIA: My Washington Times 'On Crime' Column On A Look Back At Spy Novelist Charles McCarry

The Washington Times published my On Crime column on the late spy novelist Charles McCarry.

I wonder what the late, great spy novelist Charles McCarry would make of the COVID-19 outbreak and the Chinese connection, be it the Wuhan “wet markets” or the science labs near Wuhan.

McCarry, who died last year at the age 88, set his 2013 novel “The Shanghai Factor” in China.

“China, hidden and mysterious, has always interested me,” McCarry said in an interview with Publisher’s Weekly. “I’ve written about it in other novels before ‘The Shanghai Factor,’ and in order to save the life of my series hero, Paul Christopher, locked the poor fellow up for 10 years in a one-prisoner jail in a desert in Xianjing province.”

In “The Shanghai Factor,” the narrator, a 29-year-old American intelligence officer in China, explained how he first encountered a Chinese woman named Mei. “One day, as I pedaled along Zhonghan Road, she crashed her bicycle into mine. In those days I was new to the life as a spy, so my paranoia wasn’t yet fully developed, but I immediately suspected that this was no accident. My first thought was that Chinese counterintelligence had sniffed me out and sent this temptress to entrap me. Then I took a look at the temptress and wondered why I should mind.”

Later in the novel, McCarry writes, “I was sure from the start that she was on duty, that she reported everything, that she had bugged my room. The funny thing was, she never asked for information, never probed.”

Mei, McCarry wrote, showed no curiosity about his past history or life.

“Probably this was because she had been briefed about this matter by the folks at Guoanbu, the Chinese intelligence service (within Headquarters called “MSS,” short for Ministry of State Security) and had no reason to ask.”

I enjoyed “The Shanghai Factor,” as I have his other novels, including “The Tears of Autumn” which in my view is his finest novel. This brilliant novel covers the assassination of President Kennedy and the Vietnam War, and although I don’t subscribe to the conspiracy he portrays in the novel, I recommend highly this most interesting and insightful spy novel.

McCarry knew something about espionage, having served as a deep cover CIA officer for 10 years in the 1950s and 1960s. The New Republic called Charles McCarry “the poet laureate of the CIA.” He has also been called the American John le Carre, a spy novelist he is often compared to.

You can read the rest of the column below or via the below link:

Department Of Justice Announces Disruption Of Hundreds Of Online COVID-19 Related Scams: Hundreds Of Domains Disrupted Through Public And Private Sector Cooperative Efforts

Federal authorities announced today that an ongoing cooperative effort between law enforcement and a number of private-sector companies, including multiple internet domain providers and registrars, has disrupted hundreds of internet domains used to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to commit fraud and other crimes.
As of April 21, 2020, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has received and reviewed more than 3,600 complaints related to COVID-19 scams, many of which operated from websites that advertised fake vaccines and cures, operated fraudulent charity drives, delivered malware, or hosted various other types of scams.  To attract traffic, these websites often utilized domain names that contained words such as “covid19,” or “coronavirus.”  In some cases, the fraudulent sites purported to be run by, or affiliated with, public health organizations or agencies.
For example, the cooperative effort has disrupted:
  • An illicit website pretending to solicit and collect donations to the American Red Cross for COVID-19 relief efforts.
  • Fraudulent websites that spoofed government programs and organizations to trick American citizens into entering personally identifiable information, including banking details.
  • Websites of legitimate companies and services that were used to facilitate the distribution or control of malicious software.
Multiple federal agencies have worked to analyze the complaints, investigate ongoing fraud, phishing, or malware schemes, and assemble vetted referrals.  Agencies have sent hundreds of these referrals  to the private-sector companies managing or hosting the domains.  Many of those companies, in turn, have taken down the domains after concluding that they violated their abuse policies and terms of service, without requiring legal process.  Domain registrars and registries have advised the department that they have established teams to review their domains for COVID-19 related fraud and malicious activity.  Cybersecurity researchers have also made important contributions by developing sophisticated tools to identify malicious domains and refer them for mitigation.  Law enforcement is actively reviewing leads, including those referred by private firms, to verify unlawful activity and quickly pursue methods for disruption. 

As a further example, shortly after the IRS notified the public of web links to apply for the COVID-19 related stimulus payments, the FBI identified a number of look-alike IRS stimulus payment domains.  These look-alike domains are often indicative of future phishing schemes and in order to minimize the potential fraudulent use of the these domains, the FBI alerted numerous domain registries and registrars to the existence of these look-alike URLs.
“The department will continue to collaborate with our law enforcement and private sector partners to combat online COVID-19 related crime,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  “We commend the responsible internet companies that are taking swift action to prevent their resources from being used to exploit this pandemic.”
“Working alongside our law enforcement partners and the private industry, the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch is taking action against all manner of COVID-19 consumer scams,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “Disrupting Internet-based fraud schemes is an important part of our effort to protect consumers from financial loss and health-related harms.”
“The FBI is proud to work alongside our federal law enforcement and private sector partners to protect the American public from COVID-19 related scams during these difficult times,” said FBI Executive Assistant Director Terry Wade.  “We believe our collaborative efforts are the key to quickly reducing the threat from COVID-19 scams while allowing the American public to focus on protecting themselves and their families from this pandemic.”
“Keeping pace with the growing threat of cyber-enabled COVID-19 scams requires an alliance between the private sector and our law enforcement partners to safeguard our Nation from this sort of nefarious conduct,” said Director James M. Murray of the U.S. Secret Service.  “The Secret Service is thankful for these trusted partnerships which demonstrate a proven model for identifying, investigating and prosecuting these criminals.”
The Justice Department is also working to provide COVID-19 related training and technical assistance in other countries through the International Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (ICHIP) program.  In one Justice Department-supported action, a state prosecutor in Brazil took down a fake site purporting to belong to a leading Brazilian brewery.  The website publicized the distribution of free sanitizer, but in fact was infecting the computer systems of numerous Brazilian consumers with malware.  The ICHIP-mentored prosecutor further requested that the site’s U.S.-based registrar suspend it and preserve any account and transactional data linked to the site.  The investigation is ongoing, and the ICHIP continues to mentor the prosecutor remotely on this case and on best practices for engaging with U.S. registrars and providers.  Similar activities are planned in other regions with ICHIP attorneys.  Learn more about the Criminal Division’s ICHIP Program, jointly administered by the Criminal Division’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training and the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, here.
Numerous Justice Department components are working to combat COVID-19 related crime nationwide.  For a list of department efforts, visit   
The FBI’s Cyber Initiative and Resource Fusion Unit (CIRFU) and National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA), the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch, and the U.S. Secret Service field offices are coordinating these efforts.  The U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Food and Drug Administration also have been collaborating in this effort.
The following tips can help protect individuals and businesses from being victimized by cyber actors:
  • Independently verify the identity of any company, charity, or individual that contacts you regarding COVID-19.
  • Check the websites and email addresses offering information, products, or services related to COVID-19.  Be aware that scammers often employ addresses that differ only slightly from those belonging to the entities they are impersonating.  For example, they might use “” or “” instead of “”
  • Be wary of unsolicited emails offering information, supplies, or treatment for COVID-19 or requesting your personal information for medical purposes.  Legitimate health authorities will not contact the public this way.
  • Do not click on links or open email attachments from unknown or unverified sources. Doing so could download a virus onto your computer or device.
  • Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is operating and up to date.  Keep your operating system up to date as well. 
  • Ignore offers for a COVID-19 vaccine, cure, or treatment.  Remember, if a vaccine becomes available, you will not hear about it for the first time through an email, online ad, or unsolicited sales pitch.
  • Check online reviews of any company offering COVID-19 products or supplies.  Avoid companies whose customers have complained about not receiving items.
  • Research any charities or crowdfunding sites soliciting donations in connection with COVID-19 before giving any donation. Remember, an organization may not be legitimate even if it uses words like “CDC” or “government” in its name or has reputable looking seals or logos on its materials.  For online resources on donating wisely, visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website.
  • Be wary of any business, charity, or individual requesting payments or donations in cash, by wire transfer, gift card, or through the mail.  Do not send money through any of these channels.

If you think you are a victim of a fraud or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, call the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or email at  If it is a cyber scam, submit your complaint through

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Ralph Cipriano: Philly DA Krasner Uses BS, Deceptive Stats To Con Public About Crime

Ralph Cipriano takes issue with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s virtual press conference at his blog,

Attention Philadelphia, District Attorney Larry Krasner is using some bold-face BS and a batch of misleading crime statistics to try and cover up how his permissive policies have fueled gun violence in the streets.

Krasner, who was publicly trashed last month at a joint press conference held by the mayor and police commissioner for his revolving door style of justice, held his own 
virtual press conference last Friday, with just an underling present. There weren't any other city officials around, or any reporters, not even on Zoom, so that nobody could question Krasner's desperate lies, fraudulent claims or deliberately deceptive stats.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, of course, has given fellow progressive Krasner a complete pass while Philadelphians this year are shooting and killing each other at record rates. But here at Big Trial, we're going to hold Krasner accountable.

At his virtual press conference, Krasner tried to con his fellow citizens into believing his big lie that crime in the city is actually down. Just the opposite is true. And no amount of lying, or spin-doctoring with phony crime stats is going to wash the blood off Krasner's hands. 

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: 

$10,000 Reward Offered As FBI, Bensalem Police Seek Two Subjects In Attempted Armed Robbery And Shooting

The FBI released the below information:

The FBI and the Bensalem Police Department are seeking the public’s assistance identifying and locating the two subjects involved in an attempted armed robbery and shooting recently at First Stop Cigarettes & Cigars, located at 919 Bristol Pike in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.
On March 20, 2020, just before 9 p.m., an unknown male subject, armed with a black revolver, entered the store. The subject pointed the handgun at a male employee behind the counter and demanded money. Soon thereafter, the subject fired a single gunshot, striking the employee in the chest.
The subject then fled the store on foot, meeting up outside with a second unknown male acting as a lookout. The two subjects were last seen heading into the parking area of the Grandview Gardens apartment complex, adjacent to the cigarette shop. The employee was transported to the hospital in critical condition with life-threatening injuries.
Subject 1, the armed robber, is described as a black male, approximately 6'0" tall. He was wearing a gray sweatshirt, black pants, black shoes, and a white mask over his nose and mouth.
Subject 2, the lookout, is described as a black male, who had on a light-colored shirt, dark-colored pants, and white sneakers.
A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for information leading to the identification, location, arrest, and conviction of those involved in this violent crime.
The reward is being administered by the Philadelphia Citizens Crime Commission. Anyone with information that may assist investigators is urged to call the Citizens Crime Commission tip line at 215-546-TIPS (215-546-8477). Tipsters can remain anonymous.

Monday, April 20, 2020

CIA Officers Reveal How Bill Clinton Stopped Them From Killing Bin Laden And Preventing 9/11

Marlow Stern at the Daily Beast offers a piece on a new documentary that features former CIA officers blaming former President Clinton for 9/11, as he didn’t allow American forces to take out bin Laden when they had the chance before 9/11.

Former President Bill Clinton has talked openly about how he could have killed Osama bin Laden—but passed. 

“I nearly got him. And I could have killed him, but I would have to destroy a little town called Kandahar in Afghanistan and kill 300 innocent women and children, and then I would have been no better than him. And so I just didn't do it,” Clinton confessed to an Australian audience just 10 hours before two planes struck the World Trade Center. 

But in The Longest War, a new documentary from director Greg Barker (Manhunt) and executive producer Alex Gansa (Homeland), former CIA agents reveal that they had another opportunity to take out Osama bin Laden with little collateral damage. 

“Bin Laden was constantly moving, and we were using Afghan tribal networks to report on his travels and his whereabouts,” Bob Grenier, then-CIA station chief in Islamabad, Pakistan, says in the film. 

When the Afghan tribal networks uncovered that a caravan carrying bin Laden would be traveling along a certain route, they suggested U.S. forces bury a cache of explosives along it to eliminate the infamous terrorist. But Grenier told them they’d be “risking jail” if they did, and that was all thanks to President Clinton. 

“The CIA had a so-called ‘lethal finding’ [bill] that had been signed by President Clinton that said that we could engage in ‘lethal activity’ against bin Laden, but the purpose of our attack against bin Laden couldn’t be to kill him,” Grenier explains in the film. “We were being asked to remove this threat to the United States essentially with one hand tied behind our backs.” 

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: 

Note: I changed the headline from CIA agents to CIA officers. Career Americans at the CIA are officers, not agents. Agents, or assets, are the foreign nationals that CIA case officers recruit to spy for America. 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

My Crime Fiction: 'Old MaDonald Had A Gun'

The below short story originally appeared in American Crime Magazine.  

Old MacDonald Had a Gun

 By Paul Davis

I read about the hostage situation on a Pennsylvania dairy farm as the story came online. 

A wire service wrote that the dairy farmer’s name was Alfred MacDonald. 

And as he was in his late 70’s, he was old. 

I thought of the song, “Old MacDonald had a farm. Ee i ee i o. And on his farm he had some cows.” 

The hostage story interested me, and I was sure that the story would also interest the readers of my crime column in the local newspaper in Philadelphia. 

I called the county sheriff's office and interviewed the sheriff and one of his deputies over the phone. The deputy offered to reach out to Alfred MacDonald and tell him that I’d like to interview him as well.

Alfred MacDonald read the Philadelphia newspapers, so he knew me from my weekly column. He called me and consented to be interviewed. He invited me to his farm the following day.

Accompanied by a photographer, Tony Russo, we drove the two hours from South Philadelphia to the dairy farm. Although he was considered a small dairy farmer, the farm looked large to me, with more cows than I’d ever seen together in one place. 

MacDonald was of average height, lean and wiry, with thinning silver hair and a face weathered by the sun and wind. He took Tony and me to his house on the farm and introduced us to his wife, Darlene, his 52-year-old son, Jim, and his daughter-in-law, Jean. 

While Tony was taking photos of the farm, I was shown MacDonald’s business office. The room had a desk with a computer on it and some file cabinets, but the office had the look of an old-fashioned study, with a good number of books on shelves and shotguns, rifles and handguns in locked cabinets. Mounted on the walls were the heads of various animals that MacDonald had hunted in the past. 

MacDonald told me he was an avid reader, and when the men invaded his home, he thought immediately of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, in which a farm family had been murdered brutally by armed robbers.

As we sat in his office, MacDonald told me about the hostage situation. 

MacDonald and his wife, his son and daughter-in-law had sat down at the kitchen table to eat lunch when the four-armed men invaded the home. MacDonald was thankful that the grandchildren were in school.

The four men dragged a frightened young woman in with them. MacDonald knew two of the men. The two were Jimmy and Billy Huston, two of Buck Huston’s three sons. MacDonald didn’t know the other two men, but he could see they were hard and desperate men, criminals who would not hesitate to fire the guns they brandished as they entered the kitchen. MacDonald told his family to be still and calm.

The Huston boys were like their father, thieves who were in and out of prison. He despised the family, and he had run-ins with them in the past.

Jimmy, the second oldest of the criminal clan, spoke to MacDonald as he pointed his revolver in his face, “Listen up, old man. We need to hold up here for a while, so don’t get tough and no one will get hurt.”

MacDonald did not respond. 

One of the men, a dark, muscular and tattooed man of about 40, said to MacDonald, “You don’t look scared, old-timer. That makes me think about shooting you dead on the spot.” 

The other men laughed, which made MacDonald think the man was the leader of this criminal gang. 

“I’m scared shitless,” MacDonald said dryly. 

“Hank,’ Jimmy said to the man, “He’s a cantankerous old coot, but he won’t try nothing while we got his family covered.”

MacDonald’s wife served the armed men lunch, as if they were invited guests. The men sat at the table with their guns close by. MacDonald’s wife gave the young woman a glass of water and tried to calm her. 

MacDonald listened to the men talk as they eat, especially Jimmy Huston, who never stopped talking, and so he was able to discover what had transpired prior to their coming to the farm.

Jimmy Huston had served in prison with Hank Dawkins, and he often spoke of his “fool-proof” plan to rob the county bank and then race to a small airfield nearby, where Lenny, the eldest Huston, a pilot, owned a small plane. The bank robbers would then fly away with their stolen cash. “Leaving the cops in our dust,” as Jimmy Huston put it.  

After Jimmy Huston and Dawkins were released from prison some months apart, they met up and enlisted the other two Huston sons and a friend of Dawkins’s, a quiet and serious killer named Joe Wilson. 

The plan went wrong when a county deputy sheriff was waiting outside the door of the bank as the bank robbers began to file out. At the sight of the deputy behind his car, his service pistol pointed at them, they rushed back into the bank. Jimmy Huston, the gang’s getaway driver, slouched behind the wheel of his car so the deputy would not see him. 

The deputy remained behind his patrol car, as he was waiting for the sheriff and the other deputies to arrive. Inside the bank, Dawkins grabbed a young female teller, and holding her around the neck with his pistol held to her head, he walked outside and yelled to the deputy that he would kill the young woman if he tried to stop them. 

The deputy didn’t move as the three robbers and their hostage slipped into the getaway car. Jimmy Huston stepped heavily on the gas pedal and sped towards the airfield. The deputy got into his patrol car and followed the bank robbers at a safe distance while radioing the sheriff to update him on the robbery. 

As plans often do, several things went wrong in addition to the presence of the deputy outside the bank. First, Lenny Huston called and said he was having mechanical problems with the plane. He said he needed an hour to make repairs before they could take off. And second, there were three police cars blocking the highway as Jimmy raced to the airfield. 

Jimmy Huston saw the police cars and swung his car off onto a road that led to MacDonald’s dairy farm.

“There’re here.” Wilson said calmly as he looked out of the kitchen window. 

Dawkins got up from the table and looked out at a small crowd of MacDonald’s workers and three patrol cars with the officers armed with shotguns and rifles. 

“Old man,” Dawkins said to MacDonald. “Go out there and tell the cops we have hostages. Tell ‘em we’ll kill ‘em if they get in our way.” 

Without a word, MacDonald got up and walked outside. He told his workers to go home, or at least back up some. He walked up to the sheriff and told him what was happening in the house. MacDonald told him of the bank robbers’ plan to go to the airfield and fly off with the oldest Huston son.

The sheriff told MacDonald that they were waiting for the state police and an FBI team with a hostage negotiator to show up. Until then, they would take no action.

MacDonald walked back to his house and adjusted the Colt .45 M1911 semi-automatic in a holster clipped to his jeans and hidden under his khaki shirt worn outside of his jeans. He always wore the gun, even in his house, and now he was glad that he did.

MacDonald told Dawkins what the sheriff had said. 

“We have to bolt now,” Dawkins told the others. “Let’s bolt before the feds show up. Jimmy, call your brother and tell him we’re on our way, and he better have that fucking plane ready to fly.”

“We should take a second hostage,” Wilson told Dawkins. 

“Right, take grandmom there,” Dawkins said.

“No,” MacDonald said firmly. “Take me.”

“Women make better hostages, old-timer,” Dawkins said. “Don’t worry, we won’t hurt her unless the cops open up. Now sit down or we’ll kill all of you right now.” 

“That’ll let the cops know we’re serious,” Jimmy Huston said. 

MacDonald shot a disdainful look at the young criminal.

“We’ll go in two groups,” Dawkins told the gang. “Billy and me will take the teller and grandmom. Joe, you and Jimmy leave in fifteen minutes with this other woman. Tie the men up and take the old man’s car.”  

MacDonald looked at his wife and she gave him a nod to let him know that she would be fine. 

Dawkins went to the door with his arm wrapped around the teller neck. 

“Hey, we’re leaving with two hostages, “he yelled to the officers. “Don’t try to stop us or we’ll kill the hostages, and my men will kill everyone inside.”

Dawkins and Billy Huston rushed out to their car with the two women. The sheriff told his deputies to stay put. Thanks to MacDonald, he knew where the bank robbers were heading, and he had radioed the state police and told them to get to the airfield first.   

Back in the kitchen, Jimmy Huston watched three of the patrol cars pull out, leaving one car and one deputy.

He grabbed Jim MacDonald around the neck and lifted him out of his chair. “What time is it? Should we leave now?” 

Wilson took Jean by her arm gently and lifted her from her chair. 

“In a minute,” Wilson said. 

MacDonald drew his Colt .45 and placed the gun up against Wilson’s back and fired a round through the bank robber’s heart. Wilson dropped to the floor as Jean screamed in fear.

Jimmy Huston also screamed, and he backed up against the wall with Jim MacDonald in his grip. He saw Wilson dead on the floor and MacDonald crouched and pointing his gun at him. 

“I’ll kill your son,” Jimmy Huston warned. 

MacDonald fired. 

Jimmy Huston’s head exploded from the round. Jim MacDonald, his face covered in blood and brain matter, rushed to his wife on the floor alongside Repo.

The deputy, John Hayes, rushed in with his service pistol in hand. 

“There’re dead.” MacDonald said matter-of-factly.

McDonald told Hayes what had happened.

“Weren’t you afraid that Jimmy would kill your son?” Hayes asked MacDonald. 

“No,” MacDonald replied. “Jimmy Houston wasn’t a killer. He was a talker.”

“Where did you learn to do this, in Vietnam?” 

“No. I was stationed in West Germany during peace time before Vietnam, but I’ve been a hunter all my life.” MacDonald said. “And the animals I’ve hunted and killed were a lot smarter than these two.” 

Hayes and MacDonald drove to the airfield, but they stopped at a roadside bar, where MacDonald had spotted the bank robbers’ car in the parking lot. 

Hayes and MacDonald entered the bar and saw the bank robbers at a table, eating and drinking with their hostages. 

Apparently, the sheriff and his deputies had gone on to the airfield. 

Billy Huston had called his brother at the airfield and was told that the plane would not be repaired for anther half hour or so. Not wanting to wait at the airfield, Dawkins had the bold idea to stop off at the bar they passed for a drink and some food. He was feeling bold as he was certain he was safe as long as he had the women hostages. 

To feel even safer, he took a table with his back to the wall. 

But as Dawkins was drinking and eating heartily, he didn’t notice MacDonald slip behind him in the thin space between his chair and the wall.  

Billy Huston, sitting across from Hank, also didn’t see MacDonald. With his right hand on the gun tucked in his waistband, the right-handed bank robber was having difficulty using a fork with his left hand. 

Dawkins didn’t notice MacDonald come up behind him, but Darlene MacDonald did. 

She saw the gun in her husband’s hand and nodded.

MacDonald shot Dawkins in the back of his head. 

At that moment, Hayes came up behind Billy Huston and took the young criminal by the neck, lifting him out of his seat. The teller leaped away from the table as Billy Huston passed out.


“I’m glad that you and your family weren’t harmed,” I said to Alfred MacDonald after listening to his story. “You took quite a chance. Any regrets?” 

“Yeah,” MacDonald replied. “I regret I can’t mount their heads in my office.”

© 2020 Paul Davis