Avery opened the file on the desk, revealing several police forms and photographs paper-clipped with notes.
“Starting with the smoke bombs. We have the sale of four cases, forty-eight in total – the same number recovered from the Knight building. Purchased the day before attack from a local army supply store, they were paid for in cash. We talked to the cashier earlier this morning, a Dirk Kane. He initially confirmed Ashe as the buyer, but then back-peddled and is now refusing to cooperate, so we’re working through the store’s surveillance for the transaction.”
“Wait, why isn’t the cashier talking?” Asked Michael.
“Something to do with the government and surveillance and his rights – not entirely sure of his rationale, but the result is the same. He ain’t talking,” said Wyatt.
Michael withheld comment or questioned, and instead looked at Avery with eyes and eyebrows that suggested “and…?”
Avery responded by picking up a picture of the greeting card found in the lobby. “The signature on the card reads ‘Eve,’” she said.
“What about it?”
“Care to guess the name of one of Pendleton’s deceased sisters?”
“Not anymore,” said Michael.
“As an aside, her funeral was the morning of the protest.” Avery pointed to a still photograph of Penn, wearing a dark suit, standing next to Holly in the recesses of the protest. “In case you were wondering why he was wearing a suit.”
“I wasn’t, but thanks.” said Michael was quiet for an uncomfortably long period of time. “What are you thinking?”
Avery regrouped before continuing. “In the weeks before the bombing, Mr. Ashe underwent a string of events, life events. He got divorced, lost his house, lost his job, lost his oldest sister. And I think because of that, he felt the need to lash out. So he did.”
Michael nodded this head in thought. “Fair enough, but why go after a utility company?”
“Environmental – fighting the energy company’s expansion.”
“Come on. You just said he’s not involved with the environmental movement. Also, his background, demographics, and history don’t support a man attacking the system. And the bombs,” said Michael. “If he is our guy, we need more. It’s not illegal to purchase smoke bombs, so although it will be nice to have the link, we need direct proof linking him to the bombs at the building. We need physical evidence or a witness tying Ashe – not a man in some disguise – to the scene.”
Avery felt herself deflate.
“And look, I’m not saying he isn’t our guy, I’m saying we need legit facts to prosecute him successfully.”
Avery straightened up, trying to mask her discouragement.
“Do we have footage of him entering the building?”
“Not yet, no.”
“Does he have an alibi?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, we need to know. If we raise our hand on this one without having it buttoned up, the D.A. will crush us. We’re going to need more.”
Michael’s points were direct, but valid. Budget cuts within the district attorney’s office had strapped the legal arm of the city. As a result, the district attorney’s office had hammered the police department to be more exacting in their work and case preparation.
“Then let’s go get more,” said Wyatt with renewed energy. “While we wait on the footage, I say we tackle the alibi and swing by his place, ask him where he was during the bombing. It can’t hurt and, who knows, we might get lucky.”
Michael considered the proposition.
“We don’t have to arrest him,” said Wyatt. “We can just talk to him. At a minimum, he’ll know that we know, and if he feels us staring at the back of his neck, he’s liable to do something, to make a mistake.”
Michael shrugged his shoulders. “It’s not ideal, but it’s worth a shot.”
“Avery, any interest in a field trip?” asked Wyatt with a hint of a wink.