An American flag billowed overhead as thousands of mourners streamed into HP Pavilion Thursday to remember the two Santa Cruz police detectives killed in the line of duty on Feb. 26.
Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler were fatally shot by a suspect in a misdemeanor sexual assault case they were investigating.
"It's recognition," Santa Cruz County District Attorney Bob Lee said outside Thursday's memorial. "These people helped make our lives secure and helped us raise families in a healthy environment."
Santa Cruz County residents followed a mile-long police motorcade from the Boardwalk over Highway 17 to arrive at the memorial service.
Juliana Cheng, who lives not far from where the fatal shootings occurred on North Branciforte Avenue, picked up a free bus pass offered to help locals get to the funeral. She said she was glad she'd made the trip.
"It's pretty amazing," Cheng said, surveying the scene in front of HP Pavilion.
Santa Cruz city and county workers, many wearing blue memorial ribbons with stars or the badge numbers of the fallen officers pinned to their lapels, hugged each other.
Peace officers from throughout the state arrived wearing their dress blues.
"I'm here to honor them. It's important to me," said California Highway Patrol motor officer Sam Courtney, who works and lives in Santa Cruz County. He directed traffic around the scene of the shooting Feb. 26.
The outpouring of support from the law enforcement community touched many.
"We're all in this together," Watsonville Police Lt. David McCartney said. "It's a true tragedy and it's felt deeply."