Columbia student recounts witnessing California cop’s murder

The California police officer who was shot and killed Thursday night after responding to a three-car crash was ambushed by a bystander, according to a Columbia University graduate student who had been involved in the wreck.

Christian Pascual, 25, was on his way to the University of California, Davis to visit friends when a vehicle hit the 1996 Infiniti he was driving, causing Pascual to spin out of control and plow into another car at around 7 p.m., Pascual told The Sacramento Bee.

Pascual, who attends the Manhattan school, said he got out of his car to exchange information with the other motorists as Officer Natalie Corona of the Davis Police Department arrived on scene.

“I gave [Corona] my license and she was just about to give it to me. That’s when I heard the shots,” Pascual told the news outlet, adding that the bullets rang out so close to him that he was suffering from hearing loss Friday morning.

“The person was behind me and all of a sudden I heard gunshots,” Pascual said, noting that he did not believe the gunman to be someone involved in the car crash.

Pascual quickly ducked to the ground when he heard the gunfire.

“When I looked up and I saw the officer on the ground he was already walking due west toward C Street, like just shooting at what looked like random people to me,” Pascual said.

The student added: “I just knew that I had to get out of there once I saw the gun and what was happening…I count myself pretty lucky that he didn’t think of me.”

Corona, 22, had only been on the job a few weeks before her life was cut short.

The young cop was rushed to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, where she later died.

Police have not yet determined what prompted the horrific attack.

Corona’s alleged killer, who has not been identified, was later found dead inside a home with a self-inflicted gunshot wound following a standoff with police officers, authorities said.

Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel called Corona a “rising star in the department.”

“Natalie was just full of life and full of energy and just an absolute pleasure to be around,” Pytel said. “She just worked like you can’t believe.”

With Post wires

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