By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
Brett wasn't listening, or even paying attention to the almost-naked bodies gyrating in front of him. He was thinking about Karrissa Sparks.
They'd met the year before, when Sean showed up at Subway to give Brett a ride home; Karrissa and another female friend were in the back of Sean's red 1986 Mustang. Karrissa had large, sad eyes and soft, pretty features that Brett found attractive -- but the nineteen-year-old also had a boyfriend. In late March, though, she called Sean and asked for help getting her things out of her boyfriend's apartment because he had become abusive. Sean called Brett and explained the situation. When Sean showed up at Brett's house, he was wearing a blue polo shirt with a logo in the shape of a badge and the words "Denver Police." Brett grabbed his paramedic uniform, and they headed to the scene in Brett's Jeep. As they got out of the vehicle, Brett saw that the Velcro duty belt he'd given Sean barely fit around his friend's waist.
"Are you actually going to wear that?" Brett laughed, while handing over his Mag-Lite flashlight. When they got to the apartment door, Sean pounded on it with his fist.
Boom, boom, boom.
The boyfriend opened the door, looked at the badge printed on Sean's shirt and muttered, "Oh, shit!" Then he looked at Brett. "There's nobody hurt," he said.
Brett explained that they were friends of Karrissa's. "Have you hit her?" he asked.
"Stand back now before I have to call for backup," Sean ordered, poking the boyfriend in the chest with the Mag-Lite. The boyfriend complied, and the do-gooders helped a crying Karrissa pack up her belongings and stow them in Brett's Jeep. Sean told Brett to drop him off at his car so he could go to Maxim. After that, Brett drove Karrissa to a friend's house and helped her unpack.
"Thanks for helping me," she said.
Brett could tell that she was really grateful. It was nothing, he said. "I don't want that guy to hit you or nothing." Karrissa gave him a big hug. He told her to call him any time she needed help.
Meanwhile, over at Maxim, Kielman says he saw Sean living it up at the bar, as always. But eventually, he noticed something different about the guy's shirt.
"Wait a minute," he said. "I thought you were a paramedic."
Kielman never got a straight answer.
The badge was what impressed Brett. He'd never seen one like it before. It wasn't a Denver Police Department badge. It was big, with a shield at the top and weird gold-leaf designs coming down the sides, and it had one of those foldable leather cases that the detectives on cop shows are always flipping open. That's how he remembers it, at least.
In 2001, sixteen-year-old Brett had put a post on a Yahoo Internet chat room, titled "Electronic Devices in Colorado," about police scanners. That's when Mark had messaged back, saying that he was a cop. Brett told Mark that he wanted to listen to a scanner because his dad used to be an officer and his older brother, Brian, was a police cadet, but the DPD had recently gotten a new system that rendered all old scanners useless. Mark said he could help him out and gave him his address, which was only half a mile from Brett's mom's house.
Brett was still attending South, at a time he describes as "the greatest years of my life." Officially, he was supposed to go to John F. Kennedy High School, but he'd been expelled freshman year after being accused of making bomb threats to the school. Brett denies making the threats, but he spent three months in juvenile detention and did a year of probation. "It was a misdemeanor," he adds. "It was nothing serious."
At South he took a web-page design course and a keyboard typing class, where he says he learned to crank out over 100 words a minute. During lunch he sold cookies that were baked by the home-economics students as a school fundraiser. "I'd be out there in my little cart and be like, 'Cookies, three dollars!'" After cookies, Brett would run up to the music room for band rehearsal. He was in marching band, orchestra band and jazz band. "I busted it out," he says with pride.
A whiz at computers, too, Brett was teaching himself programming, networking and how to repair hardware with mini-soldering tools. On a shelf in his bedroom, he had a collection of walkie-talkies and other radios. But he'd never seen anything like the radio Mark now showed him. It was heavy, like a brick, with large batteries and an antenna extending from the top.
"Police use these?" he asked, pushing a button on the side to switch through the channels.
"Yup," Mark replied. He said he'd sell it for $300.
Sweet! Only Brett didn't have $300. So he went over to his dad's house and told him he needed three bills for school supplies.
His dad took out his wallet and handed Brett the money. After he purchased the radio, Brett took it home and listened to police talk. He asked his brother what a "Code Five" was. Brian wondered why he wanted to know; Brett showed him the transmitter.