At the time, they sounded austere, pummeling her body as though they were physical blows and she was convinced bruises would show up later.

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2020/01/23/your-daily-word-prompt-austere-january-23-2020/   

Although Maia listened to the words she was still in shock.  It wouldn’t hit her until later they’d been delivered with compassion and concern. At the time, they sounded austere, pummeling her body as though they were physical blows and she was convinced bruises would show up later. Her best friend was in the hospital, severely beaten. 

Damon Maddison, the detective in charge, spoke to the collection of reporters, cops, ambulance attendance and fireman, his glance moving around the room including each individual as he spoke, emphasizing his point – there was a deranged crazy out there, whose sole target was men and women in uniform. 

He explained it hadn’t become apparent until the fifth victim, that there was a pattern.  In the beginning, it seemed random but with each attack more severe than the last, and now with accompanying notes taunting those in charge, they knew otherwise.

While the first three individuals attacked were an ambulance attendant, followed by two cops and now a fireman, he’d was gaining momentum, the attacks more severe and more often.  Maddison also explained it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility the perp would turn their attention to the media since the last note suggested the possibility.

He firmly denounced the actions but strongly suggested they double up, no one attended any scene no matter how obscure or unimportant without backup, in vigilant fashion, covering each other’s backs to protect everyone on the job.

His next words sent a chill through her.  “The concern we have is unfortunately not limited to your time on the job.  It bleeds into your off-duty hours as well.”  When he had their undivided attention, he continued, “Two of the attacks, one on a fireman and the other on an ambulance attendant, happened after they clocked out and while still in their gear, were preparing to head home.”

“This suggests the perp had a working knowledge of their location, their hours on and off duty, their lifestyle.  You are more likely to be prepared when in a group attending a fire, or an accident, but your less likely to be concerned during your off-duty hours.  This is a serious mistake.  It’s what he’s counting on.  He’s made his mark, drawn attention to his actions, he’s eager for more attention upping the ante, and that means attacking while you’re unprepared.”

“What about our families?”  a voice asked from the back of the room.

“So far, family members haven’t been involved.  His target seems to be those in uniform suggesting a long-held grudge hatred or resentment.  If that is the case, it’s possible he won’t turn his attention to family members, at least not yet.  I can’t obviously negate the possibility, but we’re hoping we can catch this miscreant before that happens.”

“So far, we don’t have a clear description of the perp other than he’s approximately six feet tall and in good physical shape.  In the attack on the fireman, he was wearing a fireman’s uniform specifically calculated so he’d blend in and obviously no one would think twice about his presence.  The same happened with the others.  We believe he’s buying the uniforms either online or from a secondhand store.  It goes without saying, this perp is well prepared, has picked his targets and followed them whether that’s online or in person, we’re not sure, perhaps a combination of both.”

“Whether you’re entering a store, supermarket, heading to your vehicle, monitor your surroundings, be watchful and aware.  If someone approaches asking for assistance, back away, tell them you’ll call immediately for assistance, and before you do that, take a picture.  For now, your cell phone is your best friend!  Carry it with you and be prepared to use it.” 

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