Santa Cruz firefighters lauded for bravery during gunfight

February 27, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Firefighters and paramedics rushed to the scene once they got the word that two officers had been shot.

This is what they heard from dispatch before heading into the crossfire: "PD has another victim of a gunshot wound. Scene is not secure. Repeating, scene is not secure. Stage in the area at 16:08."

Firefighters even shielded innocent bystanders from bullets. The firefighters acted courageously, but if you ask any one of them about it, they'll say they were just doing their job. The firefighters who found themselves in the line of fire on Tuesday did not have to work on Wednesday. They were sent home so they could rest and recover from what they went through.

"We don't respond with officers down. We don't ever expect to go on that call. It's one that we don't want to go to," said Santa Cruz Battalion Chief Rob Young.

But that's exactly where Santa Cruz firefighters found themselves on Tuesday. SKY7HD caught the scene on video where a fire department ladder truck, an engine and a battalion chief all responded to the call for help when detectives Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker and Elizabeth Butler were shot. The crews were attending to the detectives when shooter Jeremy Goulet returned to the area and began firing at officers nearby.

"They took cover behind the truck and took some citizens. One lady was put on the ground with one of our firefighters shielding her," said Young.

Young won't say which firefighter protected the woman, but he may have saved her life. The truck took four bullets.

"The firefighter who did this heroic act did so selflessly to protect them. That's what we're here for," said Young. "The heroic efforts of the officers that went there to do their job and unfortunately lost their lives, they're the heroes in this."

At a news conference on Wednesday, we learned those two plain clothes detectives went to Goulet's house because he was a suspect in a misdemeanor sexual assault investigation. Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak says after Goulet killed them, he stole Baker's car and left the scene. But then returned to the area where he fired at officers. Those officers shot back and killed him. When the gunfight was over, police discovered Goulet was wearing body armor.

"There is a possibility that it came from standard police equipment that was either in officer Baker's car or on one of the officers or he possessed it on his own," said Wowak.

He also had more than one handgun.

"At the scene of his death, he possessed three weapons. Both officers were unarmed when they were found at his doorstep and we believe that he took their weapons after his altercation with them," said Wowak.

Anther news conference is expected on Thursday. We should learn if either officer was wearing a bulletproof vest at the time of the shooting.

The sheriff's department and CHP have been patrolling the streets of Santa Cruz to give the police department a moment to process the loss of two officers. Santa Cruz police should be back on the streets on Thursday.

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