Ambulanceman James Holden was one of the first to arrive at the scene of the Baxenden shooting by the Black Panther Donald Neilson which left Derek Astin dead.
Talking exclusively to the Observer for the first time, Mr Holden, of Church Street, Clayton-le-Moors, said what he was confronted with was one of the worst crime scenes of his career.
He was 42 at the time of the shooting, having worked in the job for six years. He said he put any fears to the back of his mind.
Mr Holden said: "The one in Baxenden sticks in my mind as being one of the worst incidents I attended in my career.
"All that went through my mind was doing what I could to keep him going and stop the bleeding. We got there as quickly as possible and went up to see him. We did as much as we possibly could. All the family were very shaken and the children were scared to death.
"You have got to push something like that to the back of your mind. It upset me for several weeks and I can still visualise it.
"Every time we went past the building after I kept thinking about it. You never expected something like that to happen around here.
"Neilson must have known his way around because it was really dark that night."
The policeman who finally brought the Black Panther to justice said news of Neilson’s death will make "a lot of people’s Christmas".
Stuart Mackenzie, who served in the Nottinghamshire force for 25 years, was given a bravery award by the Queen Mother for his part in the Panther’s arrest.
Neilson pulled out a double-barrelled shotgun and forced him and his colleague, PC Tony White, to drive off at gunpoint.
PC Mackenzie, fearing for his life, slammed on the brakes and skidded into the kerb outside a fish and chip shop.
The officers were joined by passer-by Roy Morris who helped them overpower Neilson.
The retired officer said he had no shred of sympathy for the killer.
He said: "He never showed any remorse. I just hope his death has brought some closure for the families of the people he killed.
"If we hadn’t got him he would have killed again because he had no qualms about taking lives. When you look at the number of lives he took, why shouldn’t he lose his own? But that’s British justice for you.
"Neilson has had a life of luxury in jail while the families of his victims have had to work for a living. It really grieves me that their lives have been ruined while he was being looked after, fed and clothed.
"Prison was too good for him. I’m a great believer in an eye for an eye and anyone who takes a life doesn’t deserve to walk God’s earth."
Tina Howarth, who lived on a farm in Baxenden at the time, was a friend of Derek Astin. She said they thought at the time it might be the work of the Yorkshire Ripper.
She said: "We were told not to go out at all and there was police everywhere across the moors with dogs. At the time the Ripper was about and we didn’t know if it was him or not. We were really frightened.
"I knew Derek Astin, he was a lovely man and they were lovely people. The people in Baxenden made sure everybody was okay.
"Hearing about the Black Panther’s death has brought back a lot of memories."
Jennifer Coster, then six years old, said her parents knew the Astins.
She said: "It was only a small village then and everybody knew everybody. I remember people talking about it for years after. When you think about what happened it is beyond evil. You don’t expect anything like that to happen around here."
Shirley Grey, 56, of Manchester Road, was on holiday in Scotland when the Black Panther struck.
She said: "I remember my parents ringing me about it. I was absolutely shocked.
"It was terrible what he did and also to the other people as well.
"It must be a relief for the families of those people knowing that it’s over."
* Mr Astin’s daughter Susan declined to comment this week.