Santa Cruz firefighters became heroes during the deadly gun battle between Jeremy Goulet and two officers, whom he killed. George Kiriyama reports.
Those two victims turned out to be Santa Cruz police officers, Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler. County investigators say Jeremy Goulet shot and killed the officers on his doorstep as the officers were there investigating a sexual assault allegation against him. He killed them on his doorstep, and he was gunned down on Doyle Street about an hour afterward. During that time period, a gun battle and dragnet ensued, during which bullets struck a Santa Cruz fire truck, and firefighters raced to protect innocent civilians standing nearby.
The in-the-line-of-duty police deaths were the first in Santa Cruz history. The brazen scene was unprecendented in this beach side city south of San Francisco.
"We don't respond with officers down. We don't ever expect to go on that call. It's one we never want to go to," Santa Cruz Fire Battalion Chief Rob Young said.
Ten to 15 minutes after the first call came in about 3:30 p.m., seven firefighters were caught in the line of fire. Police officers and sheriff's deputies were locked in a firefight with Goulet on Doyle Street.
"That's where our truck company was nearby," Young said.
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 firefighter who did this heroic act did it selflessly to protect them," Young said. "That's what we're here for."
After about 30 seconds, the gunfire stopped. Goulet was dead. Firefighters noticed four bullets had hit their truck.
"We put ourselves at risk to save and protect the community and that's what we try and do the best job we can at," Young said.
They're still dealing with their emotions. The day after, it's very difficult.
"Can't say enough of our thoughts, prayers and empathy to the officers and their families. Both well known in the community and well known with us," Young said.