Thomas Calabrese — Jeff Connelly was born at the Tri City Medical Center. His father Mark was a former Marine and a current homicide detective with the Oceanside Police Department. His mother, Sandra was a science and biology teacher at Mira Costa Junior College.
It was an interesting and nurturing background for the young boy. Jeff had keen instincts, but that wasn’t enough. Mark Connelly did his best to instill a code of honor and provide a good role model to his son. His mother, Robin emphasized the value of being a critical and logical thinker.
There was a time when Jeff was in second grade and he was doing his math homework and his mother came in to check on his progress. She noticed one of his answers and inquired. “How did you come to this conclusion?”
Jeff shrugged. “I don’t know…it just seemed like the right answer to me.”
“Not good enough. You need to develop your deductive reasoning skills. When the premises are correct, then so is the conclusion. Don’t bypass the steps because you’ll get in the bad habit of finding a conclusion then looking for a way to justify your answer.”
Mark was working on a serial killer case when Jeff approached him with a question. “If you’re using deductive reasoning to catch these guys and he’s using a different type of logic than you, how do you expect to catch him?”
“Interesting question…let me see if I can explain this in a coherent manner. I always use deductive reasoning to catch the killer, that doesn’t mean he’s going to use my principles when he commits the crime or escapes capture. Things are often more complex than that, but that’s what they pay me for. I look for motive and opportunity and see if there are any connections or similarities between the victims. Do they look alike, work at the same place, travel the same route, etc. I also check their hobbies, financial statements and family history. If I can’t find anything there, I have to consider that they are random killings. I do not like these kinds of cases, but sometimes you have to play the cards that you’re dealt. Maybe the killer is on medication and when he’s off his meds, he’s violent and uncontrollable. There may be triggering incidents too. This is where the art of criminal profiling comes in. I also have to consider how the victims are killed. Is it a sniper where the guy likes to keep his distance or a knife attack where he needs it to be up close and personal? I combine my experience with my investigative skills and see where it leads me. ” Jeff hesitated and his father inquired. “Something else on your mind?
“This is a hypothetical question. Have you ever had to choose between following the law and making sure that justice is served?”
Mark answered. “Hypothetically speaking, every law enforcement officer has to make a judgement call sometime in his career. It comes with the job.”
Jeff said. “I get it, when law and justice take divergent paths, be prepared to choose one.”
“I couldn’t have said it better myself.” Matt put his arm around his son’s shoulder.
After graduating high school, Jeff enlisted in the Marine Corps. His term of enlistment was four years and his military occupational specialty was 1833, AAV (Assault Amphibious Crewman). After his discharge from the Marines, Jeff enrolled in college and focused his studies on history and philosophy and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in both fields.
When applying for a job on Camp Pendleton, an elderly Human Resources employee was surprised that Jeff chose these subjects to study and asked. “I’m confused, why would you choose to study something with no practical application.
“Nothing confusing about it. I like knowing why, how and when things happened. I also have a deep curiosity about the men and women who shaped the world that we live in. If you don’t know history, you are doomed to repeat its errors and not learn from its accomplishments. Do you know what philosophy is?”
The federal employee hesitated for a moment and made a wild guess. “The study of old Greek men?”
Jeff quipped. “That might be close enough for government work, but no that’s not the answer. Quite literally, the term philosophy means, love of wisdom. In a broad sense, philosophy is a study people undertake when they seek to understand fundamental truths about themselves, the world in which they live, and their relationships to the world and to each other.”
Despite his military background, Jeff did not impress the interviewer or get the job as a base housing inspector. He wasn’t that disappointed however, in fact he was kind of relieved because he wasn’t that enthused about getting back into a federal bureaucracy.
Two weeks later, Jeff was working out at 24 Hour Fitness at the Carlsbad Mall when he encountered Kelly Monson and greeted her with a cordial hello. They made small talk at the leg press machine. Kelly commented, “I missed four days of workouts on this charity event I was at.”
Jeff inquired. “What do you do exactly?”
“I coordinate events, mainly sporting or business meetings. One of our guys quit unexpectedly and I’m feeling a little overwhelmed.”
“The business meetings don’t sound too interesting, but the sporting events do.” Jeff said.
“We also do some veterans’ events too. If you’re interested maybe I could tell my boss about you.”
Jeff interviewed with Dennis Brody, the CEO of Pinnacle Promotions and was hired. It didn’t take long for the sharp thinking former Marine to become proficient at his assigned duties. He traveled occasionally, but most of the time Jeff worked in San Diego and Orange County.
After a year with the company, Dennis called Jeff into his office. “I’d like to compliment you on a job well done. The clients and your co-workers speak highly of you.”
Jeff responded humbly. “You created a good work environment, I’m just trying not to screw it up.”
“You do a lot more than that, but that’s a discussion for another day. You are over-qualified for your current position and I hate to see you waste your potential. Before I started this company, I worked ten years as an executive recruiter. I’ve been watching you and have come to the conclusion that you would be an excellent lawyer.”
Jeff was caught off-guard. “I thought about being a police officer at one time and follow in my father’s footsteps, but that plan went out the window.”
“Why is that?”
“My father was on a stakeout with a group of other police officers and they were ambushed by a gang of human traffickers. They returned fire and killed three of the attackers. There was a big protest about excessive force and two of the younger cops were prosecuted and my dad was allowed to retired. He told me afterward, ‘things have changed in our society. If you’re in law enforcement nowadays, you not only have to worry about the bad guys getting you, but now some politicians have got us in their crosshairs. One mistake, one slip up and you’re done. Looking back, I’m glad I did it because I think I did some good, but knowing what I know now, I would have chosen a different profession. I love you son… so I’m telling you this with a heavy heart… don’t do it.”
Dennis sympathized. “It’s a shame…damn shame. I’ve done some fundraisers for police organizations. We’re losing good men and women because of this woke culture. When they defund and demean people, they demoralize them. It’s not rocket science.”
Jeff considered Ken’s suggestion and decided to give law school a try. Dennis introduced him to the Dean of Admissions at Western School of Law in San Diego. With his excellent grades, military preference, and a glowing recommendation from his employer Jeff was accepted into law school and quickly decided to become a criminal lawyer. After passing the California Bar Exam, he decided to open up his own law practice. He went into partnership with Mona Granderson, a Navy veteran and paralegal who had been assigned to the Judge Advocate General’s office and Jack Deacher a former Army military policeman who handled the investigations.
Together the trio focused their efforts and considerable talents representing law enforcement and military personnel as well as those wrongfully accused of a criminal offense. For some decent good hearted people who did not have the money to retain their services, Jeff represented them pro bono. (Pro bono is short for the Latin phrase pro bono publico, which means “for the public good.” The term generally refers to services that are rendered by a professional for free or at a lower cost.
The trio weren’t just business associates, but friends as well and often socialized outside the office. They were scheduled to be at the Vista Courthouse at ten hundred hours to represent a young Marine falsely accused of assault. They decided to get a quick workout at 24 Hour Fitness and leave from there.
Jack was doing leg curls and commented. “Did you see the price of gas lately?”
“I’m trying not to look…too depressing for me.” Jeff added.
Mona finished her last set on the arm curl machine and interjected. “We’re breaking a record every day and it’s not a good record. Inflation is at a 40 year high and crime is skyrocketing. I could go on, but you get the point.”
“We shut down our oil drilling because of the environment then buy the same amount of oil from our enemies at a higher price. We can’t control how they drill and they’re doing a lot more damage to the earth then we would ever do.” Jack explained.
Jeff said. “Energy independence is strength…energy dependency is weakness and our enemies are always looking for a crack in our national defense to come after us.’
A man standing six foot four inches tall and weighing 270 pounds sauntered over and angrily intruded into the conversation. “You don’t what the hell you’re talking about. It’s the pandemic’s fault!” The man ranted for a couple of minutes in a tirade that made little sense. Finally he blurted out. “You think that you’re better than me…don’t you?”
Jeff, Mona and Jack exchanged glances and it was obvious that they all felt that this guy wasn’t dealing with a full deck so they did not engage with him. As he walked off, Jeff commented. “Never get into an argument with a guy coming at you with hate and emotion and you’re using facts and evidence. It’s a no-win situation.”
Mona reminded Jeff and Jack. “We need to get cleaned up and ready to go. I’ll meet you out front in 30 minutes after I shower and change.”
“Roger that.” Jeff said.
As they exited the facility, Jeff and Jack heard yelling and looked to the left and saw the large argumentative man had confronted Mona and was screaming at her. “You think that you’re better than me…say it…say it!”
Jeff and Jack immediately rushed to their friend’s aid. The large man took a wild swing at Jeff who ducked under it, then threw a punch at the man and hit him in the left eye. The man yelped in pain and staggered backward. He ran off and disappeared into the parking lot. When he reached his car, he opened the trunk and pulled out an automatic weapon. He opened fire and sprayed the area with bullets.
Jack and Mona found cover behind a stone bench as Jeff ran to the left. Weaving among the vehicles Jeff reached his car, opened the front door and removed the Colt 1911, 45 caliber, single-action, semi-automatic, magazine-fed, recoil-operated pistol from the hidden compartment beneath the dashboard.
Jeff quietly came up from behind the delusional shooter while using a white Audi sedan for cover and called out. “Drop it!”
The man spun around with an evil glint in his eyes and fired. Several rounds hit the expensive vehicle, one shattered the front passenger window. Jeff steadied his aim by setting his forearms on the roof of the car and slowly pulled the trigger. He put three shots into the man’s chest and effectively ended the threat.
Jack and Mona ran over to check on their friend. “Are you alright?” Betty asked
“Yeah, no problem.” Jeff smiled.
The Carlsbad Police later identified the shooter as Allen Timmons, a paid agitator with a long criminal record, mental health issues and several outstanding warrants including one for a violent assault on a Los Angeles police officer.
When he was informed of the shooter’s identity, Jeff pondered the situation for a moment before responding to Detective Derrick Lewis. “I’ve always tried to live by the philosophy to never under-estimate the importance of reasoning, but also to never discount the value of a well-placed bullet.”
– Work of fiction. Names, characters, business, events and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance
The Veterans Writing Group of San Diego County invites all writers to join us at our monthly meetings. Veterans and Non-Veterans are equally welcome. For more information go to our website: www.veteranswritinggroup.org