Albert Dunn kept calm when an armed robber pressed a gun to his head early Saturday.
But he began to tremble, his fiancee, Amber Bolling, recalled Monday, when the gunman's accomplice aimed his gun at her temple.
Bolling, 19, said that Dunn stepped out of the passenger's seat, scuffled with the robber and apparently knocked him to the ground.
She heard a shot, a pause -- and two more shots.
Never miss a local story.
Panicked, Bolling said, she twisted the key in the ignition and sped away, fearing for her life, horrified that her fiance might die alone.
Dunn, 26, was one of five Sacramento-area men slain since Saturday, each in a separate incident.
"At this point, Dunn appears to be an innocent victim," Sacramento police spokesman Sgt. Terrell Marshall said Monday. "It appears that the motive was robbery."
Marshall said neither Dunn nor his fiancee knew their assailants, who attacked the couple in front of their Valley Hi home in south Sacramento.
Sacramento police were searching for two suspects last seen in a dark-colored pickup truck, and a police artist was working with Bolling to develop a sketch of the one whose face she saw.
On Monday, Dunn's family could barely comprehend the loss of the man they called A.J., who loved stock car races, Garth Brooks tunes and making others laugh.
"I just can't believe that this really happened," said Pam Dunn, A.J.'s mother. "It's like he's just hurt and he's going to come back."
Dunn was in between jobs, having left a position as a private investigator specializing in workers' compensation fraud cases.
Since his father's death in the winter of 2004, Dunn had taken over his newsletter listing antique cars and parts, Pam Dunn said.
Friday evening, the couple went to Roseville to listen to a presentation about a vacation timeshare to qualify for a trip to Las Vegas.
Afterward, they visited a friend, ate at Jimboy's Tacos and stopped at Dairy Queen for frozen-brownie treats.
On the way back to Sacramento, Dunn made up words to county music songs that had Bolling laughing so hard she swerved on the freeway.
They returned to their house on Valley Hi Drive where they lived with Dunn's mother. They stayed in the car, amazed that so many of their favorite songs came over the satellite radio.
"He ... sang to me for four hours," Bolling recalled Monday at a family friend's home. "He was looking for duets for us to sing together."
The couple watched the porch light flicker off and the light in Pam Dunn's bedroom go off at about 2 a.m. They decided to go inside, retrieving the melted remnants of their ice cream.
"We didn't even have a chance to think when I heard brakes screeching on my left side," Bolling said.
Two men rushed them, one putting a gun to Dunn's head before they could get out of Bolling's Dodge Stratus.
"Give me your wallet," one man demanded of Dunn.
Dunn told them: "We just got home, I don't have any money."
"I couldn't think at all," Bolling said. "I was paralyzed."
Bolling said the men continued to curse at Dunn, demanding he hand over his wallet and stay in the car.
One said if Dunn didn't have any money, he'd shoot his fiancee. Bolling said the second robber jammed a gun against her temple, as Dunn glanced over. Then -- Bolling said she could not turn her head to watch -- she heard Dunn get out of the car and scuffle with the robber. She heard a punch and could tell someone fell to the ground. It sounded more like the 150-pound robber than Dunn, who weighed more than 350 pounds, she said.
Then she heard three shots. The robber next to her lowered his gun.
"I only had a second," she said. "I started the car, put it in gear and put my foot to the floor."
Bolling said the robbers chased her, firing one shot through her car. Bolling ran red lights with the robbers in a dark blue or dark red pick-up truck trailing her. She sped into a parking lot at Denny's on Mack Road where she saw two police cars parked, summoning them to assist.
Dunn was pronounced dead by paramedics at 2:26 a.m., 10 minutes after the shooting.
According to Bolling, one suspect is a dark-skinned Latino, 5 feet 7 inches, 140 pounds, 19 to 20 years old with black buzz-cut hair. He was wearing a dark T-shirt over a white T-shirt, a dark windbreaker and dark long pants.
She described the other suspect -- the one who put the gun at A.J. Dunn's head -- as Latino, with dark skin, 5 feet 9 inches and 150 pounds. He wore a dark long-sleeved shirt and dark long pants.
A memorial for Dunn will be at 11 a.m. July 8 at the Placerville Speedway on the El Dorado County Fairgrounds. A memorial lap is scheduled for Dunn there this Saturday evening.