Mark Essex, the Howard Johnson Sniper
Tightening the Noose
Just after one o' clock, Chief Giarrusso ordered another expedition up the two stairwells. The chief wanted the two teams to locate and isolate the snipers. If possible, he wanted his men to push the shooters up onto the roof, away from the guest rooms. The teams would search the hotel floor by floor.
Lt. Jake Schnapp and three men started working their way up the Perdido stairwell. On the 11th floor, they stumbled over the body of assistant hotel manager Frank Schneider. Most of his head had been blown away. On the landing between the 15th and 16th floors, one of Schnapp' s men, Officer Larry Arthur, picked up the shotgun Deputy Chief Sirgo had dropped when he was shot. Arthur thought the extra firepower might come in handy when they reached the roof.
At the top of the Perdido stairwell, Lt. Schnapp and his men found the same thing Essex had found — a chained and padlocked door. Larry Arthur hammered the door with his foot until the lock snapped open. Arthur threw the door open and rushed out onto the roof, Deputy Chief Sirgo's shotgun thrust out in front of him. Mark Essex was there waiting.
As soon as he saw the policeman burst through the door at the top of the Perdido stairwell, Essex threw his rifle to his shoulder and snapped off a shot. The bullet hit the cop in the gut and knocked him back through the door. Essex dashed into the concrete cubicle above the Gravier stairwell.
As two men helped Arthur limp down the stairs, they passed more cops headed to the roof. The chief had sent more men up to reinforce Schnapp' s team. On the other end of the hotel, the Gravier team reported that they had also reached the roof.
Finally, Giarrusso had something positive to show for all of the effort and sacrifice his officers had made. All of the floors of the hotel were secure. The shooter or shooters were contained on the roof. All of the trapped guests, staff, firemen, and policemen could be brought down to the comparative safety of the ground floor.
The next step would be to secure the roof. To do that, the police were going to have to capture or kill whoever was up there.
Outside the hotel, it was getting colder. It was also getting dark.