SANTA CRUZ -- Firefighter Clayton Ogden was running for cover from three bursts of gunfire about 40 feet from the fire truck parked on Doyle Street when a female bystander tripped and fell to the ground.
Then Ogden stopped to help the woman who was taking out her trash, possibly saving her life.
It was the afternoon of Feb. 26, just minutes after Santa Cruz police Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker and detective Elizabeth Butler were gunned down by a 35-year-old man being investigated for a sexual assault.
"I laid on top of her and told her to keep calm and stay down -- don't move," Ogden, 43, said Saturday. "It happened so fast. I'm still kind of stunned by it. It was the worst day I've ever had in 20 years."
Ogden, a former paramedic who has worked for the Santa Cruz Fire Department for 13 years, was one of four firefighters caught in a hail of gunfire that erupted between cop killer Jeremy Goulet and a team of law enforcement officers after Baker and Butler were shot and killed.
Saturday was the first time the fire department had allowed the four firefighters to speak publicly about the shootings that shook this beach community to its core.
Authorities believe four of Goulet's bullets struck fire truck No. 3170 during the shootout. Goulet was later killed in a gunbattle with officers.
Ogden was joined by fellow firefighters Ben Bynes, Ryan Baker and Capt. Jerry Freeman on the call to North Branciforte Avenue for
After learning two police officers had been killed, firefighters moved their truck outside the crime scene a block away to Doyle Street, while they awaited their next assignment, according to Battalion Chief Mike Venezio.
But roughly 20 minutes later, Goulet pulled into a driveway next to the firefighters in an unmarked white Toyota Corolla. Although firefighters had no idea he was the suspect, they immediately noticed the man's odd behavior and alerted police.
Firefighters were busy ushering bystanders away from the scene and yelling at people in the parking lot of nearby Whole Foods to move when shots were fired between Goulet and law enforcement officers.
"The shooting immediately started," Ogden said. "Bullets were flying."
Freeman, a 28-year-veteran of the fire department, described being in the middle of the shootout between Goulet and officers as "the craziest thing I've ever seen in my life."
Freeman said his department is trained for active shooter situations, but has never had to use the skills before.
"Being in a dangerous place like that is not our norm," he said. "Nothing ever really prepares you for that."
Freeman praised Ogden for going above the call of duty by throwing himself on the woman.
Ogden, who lives in Merced, is married with three children, ages 19, 15 and 13.
"He's always been that guy," Freeman said of Ogden. "He was put on the planet to help people."
Follow Santa Cruz Sentinel reporter Shanna McCord on Twitter at Twitter.com/scnewsmom.