(8/22)

The second series of the compelling US legal drama continues. In this instalment, a series of highway shootings across the city puts the public on high alert and presents Stark with the task of tracking down a disgruntled sniper.

Stark and his team are called to the scene of a traffic accident in which a man lost control of his car after being shot at. The weapon used was a highcalibre rifle, but Stark is keen to keep any talk of a sniper away from the press. “Nothing screws up traffic like a freeway shooter,” he says.

However, it then comes to light that another highway crash on the previous day was also caused by a shot from a rifle. Both drivers survived the shootings and the subsequent crashes, but the first victim, Ellis Warner, is in a critical condition. Computer reconstructions suggest that in both cases, the shots were fired from a car parked on an overpass at a distance of around 500 yards, confirming Stark’s fears that they are dealing with a serial sniper. Before long, the press gets hold of the story and panic begins to spread.

Suspicion falls on an LA gang known as the 6th Street Posse, whose new members are sometimes made to shoot random members of the public by way of initiation. Reyes and Isaac question a member of the gang and soon come up with the name of a suspect known for dealing in weapons – one Kelvin Barlow. When cops storm Barlow’s house, they find him in possession of a number of high-calibre rifles along with newspaper cuttings about the recent shootings. “Now we’re gunning for you,” says Reyes as the suspect is led away.

Barlow claims to have alibis for the shootings and insists that he is only guilty of weapons charges. However, when Stark threatens him with a charge of attempted murder, he becomes more co-operative and provides the details of his recent customers. While the lawyers are analysing these names, they receive an anonymous tip saying that a suspicious vehicle has been spotted nearby.

Reyes and Isaac race to the scene and arrive in time to see the cops grab the driver, but he has no gun. When news then arrives that there has been another shooting on the other side of town, it becomes clear that the tip was a red herring, designed to throw police off the scent. Like the previous two, this latest victim has not been killed. “Three shots, three survivors,” says Madeleine. “Sooner or later our luck is going to run out.”

The bogus tip is traced to a payphone that has been used to call in a number of other tips about the shootings, so Reyes and Isaac lie in wait with Kelvin Barlow, hoping that he will recognise the caller as one of his customers. Sure enough, he soon spots one Sam Purcell, who recently bought a sniper rifle. Purcell is arrested and a search of his car unearths several high-calibre rounds. “Looks like we’ve got a winner,” says Reyes.

After a little digging, Stark learns that Purcell is an ex-soldier who longed for active service but was never allowed to fight; while his psychological reports from the army suggest that he has angermanagement issues. However, the suspect denies he is guilty and orders a lawyer.

When the case arrives in court, Stark paints Purcell as a failed soldier who was frustrated at being kept away from the battlefield, so chose to vent his anger on members of the public when he returned home. In reply, the defence points to the fact that no gun has actually been found and there is no real evidence linking Purcell to the crimes.

However, the case takes a shocking turn when another shooting takes place while Purcell is in custody, suggesting that he may be innocent after all. The case is thrown out of court and Stark is forced to release his suspect, but he is still convinced of Purcell’s guilt. “If we don’t come up with something fast,” he spits, “I’m going to shoot that son of a bitch myself.” But his frustration only grows when news comes in that Ellis Warner has died in hospital. With the double-jeopardy rule meaning that Purcell cannot be charged for the same crime twice, is Stark about to let an unstable killer slip through his fingers?

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