A Santa Cruz fire crew was on scene when cop killer Jeremy Goulet returned to the scene where he gunned down tow Santa Cruz police officers. Cheryl Hurd reports.
It's been nearly two weeks since two Santa Cruz police officers were gunned down in the line of duty while interviewing a sexual assault suspect.
Now, for the first time, we are hearing from firefighters about their role on that fateful Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 26.
The Santa Cruz Sheriff talked about the role the firefighters played in the early days after the killings, but this is the first time the people caught in the actual crossfire spoke out.
Jerry Freeman is one of them. He is captain of ladder truck 3170.
His crew was the first on the scene just moments after the two police officers were shot and killed.
"We were still surrounded by people with guns and shields," Freeman said. "As a fire captain, that is not an environment that you should put your crew in, but it was special circumstances."
Special because the man and woman at his feet were also in uniform, something no one, not even the dispatchers told him about ahead of time.
As Santa Cruz firefighters responded to North Branciforte Avenue, they heard this on the radio: "There's two patients, victims of gunshot wounds and stage in the area. Scene is not secure."
"We didn't know it was the officers until we arrived on scene, until we were physically standing next to them," Freeman said.
At this point, the gunman was still on the loose, and when accused cop killer Jeremy Goulet returned to the crime scene, it was the firefighters of ladder truck 3170 who spotted him first.
This happened about ten to 15 minutes after the first call came. In all there were seven firefighters on the scene.
Police officers and sheriff's deputies were locked in a firefight with Goulet on Doyle Street with the truck company nearby. Firefighters hit the deck behind their truck as bullets flew. One of the firefighters tackled a woman to the ground to shield her with his body.
"The bad guy came back essentially. We saw him," Freeman said. "We saw a car, we were told that it was a white car."
Police were quickly alerted, and rushed in. The fire crew simultaneously evacuated bystanders, curious about what was going on.
Firefighter Clayton Ogden was in the thick of it, standing next to a woman who fell to the ground.
Instead of leaving her behind, Ogden chose to cover her with his own body.
"At some point she tired to get up then another hail of gun fire started, so I just told her to stay down, don't move," Ogden said. "At that point, it was probably the safest place for both of us to be."
The heartbreaking loss of two officers has consumed the coastal community ever since.
And for many, the firefighters bravery will not be forgotten by those who watched it unfold.