Thousands gathered early Thursday morning at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk along Beach and Third streets to bid a solemn farewell to fallen Santa Cruz police detectives Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker and Elizabeth Butler.
Starting at 8:45 a.m., dozens of police motorcycles lead the mile-long funeral procession, which was followed by buses full of relatives and friends of the slain officers.
Two large black limousines carried those closest to the officers, but the black Hearse carrying the coffins joined the processional at an unknown location, for security reasons.
The caravan, with most police vehicles flashing their lights, slowly crawled its way east on Beach Street, turning northward to Third Street and Riverside Avenue, then east on Lorenzo Boulevard and then north on Ocean street to enter northbound Highway 17.
The morning was cold and the skies were gray as mourners shed tears for the final goodbye.
At about 9 a.m. the motorcade attempted to travel the 36 miles to take the officers remains to the HP Pavilion in San Jose for their three-hour memorial service, which was expected to be attended by close to 20,000 people.
Nothing could console the grieving.
All stood somber openly crying, the background of the popular seaside amusement park in stark juxtaposition. Many hugged and comforted each other as others quietly watched the caravan slowly advance.
Chrissy Perkins, a Santa Cruz resident, said she had come to Beach Street early to pay her respects for the officers and honor their memory.
Stacey Monaco, a Santa Cruz Search and Rescue volunteer, said she had arrived at the start of the procession at 4:45 a.m. to help with road closures and direction of traffic. "It's the least I can do," she said.
Santa Clara County firefighters stood at attention as the motorcade passed through overpasses on Highway 17. Caltrans workers, too, under the direction of Russell Ellingworth, were cruising up and down Highway 17 to make sure the roadway was safe and clear of debris.
The 200-vehicle motorcade was expected to take a couple of hours to get to San Jose's HP Pavilion.
At about 3:30 p.m. Feb. 26, Baker and Butler were gunned down by Jeremy Peter Goulet, 35, outside his residence at 822 Branciforte Drive. The officers were investigating him for a sexual assault allegation. He then stole Baker's car, fled, returned to the area where after advancing toward law enforcement with a firearm, he was killed. The officers' deaths are the first in the Santa Cruz Police Department's 150-year history.
Gayle Brukaker, who's lived in Santa Cruz since 1976, said she was going to travel to San Jose for the memorial service but decided instead to come to Third Street to show her support for the local police department. "We're a good community," said the mother of one. "This doesn't happen in Santa Cruz."
Mary Rahn and mother Cindy Rahn were standing at the corner of Uhden and Third streets holding signs that read: "We love SCPD," and "Thank you Butch and Elizabeth."