2 police officers killed in Calif.; suspect dead
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — The quiet of this seaside community erupted in violence Tuesday when two detectives investigating a sex crime were fatally shot while trying to question a man who was later killed in a police shootout, leading the chief to call it the darkest day in the department's history.
Sgt. Loren Butch Baker and detective Elizabeth Butler were shot and killed during an altercation at the home of the coffee shop worker, according to police and the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's office.
They were shot while following up on allegations that barista Jeremy Goulet, 35, made inappropriate sexual advances on a co-worker at her home, authorities said. Goulet was arrested Friday and was fired the next day, The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported.
Baker, a 28-year veteran of the force, and Butler, a 10-year veteran, had gone to the house where Goulet was living to follow up on the case, authorities said. They were subsequently fired upon and called for backup, and responding officers found Goulet, who was killed in the gunfire that followed, the sheriff's office said.
“There aren't words to describe this horrific tragedy,” said Police Chief Kevin Vogel. “This is the darkest day in the history of the Santa Cruz police department.”
Baker's son, Adam Baker, served as a community service officer, and father and son had mailboxes side-by-side at the police department, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported. Loren Baker told the newspaper in 2010 his son's choice to pursue a career in law enforcement threw him for a loop, but he saw glimpses of himself in Adam.
Loren Baker said he told his son to work hard for the department.
“It's a great community to be a cop in,” he said. “You don't get bored.”
Butler came to Santa Cruz to study at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and then stayed, the Sentinel reported.
The newspaper profiled her in 2005 while she was patrolling downtown. Butler said her job was a mix of public relations and fighting crime and included fielding questions from tourists about the best place for a burger or how to get to the beach.
“You have to be a people person down here,” she said. “I really do know people's names.”
The shootings prompted the lockdown of two schools and an automatic police call to nearby residents, warning them to stay locked inside. The ordinarily quiet residential neighborhood echoed with a brief barrage of gunfire that killed the suspect about a half hour after the officers were shot.
A store clerk a few buildings from the shooting said the shootout was “terrifying.”
“We ducked. We have big desks so under the desks we went,” said the clerk, who spoke on condition of anonymity and asked that her store not be identified because she feared for her safety.
After the shootings, police went door-to-door in the neighborhood, searching homes, garages, even closets, to determine whether there might be additional suspects. Law enforcement officers filled intersections, and helicopters and light aircraft patrolled the neighborhood about a mile from downtown Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
The city's mayor, Hilary Bryant, said in a statement that the community about 60 miles south of San Francisco was “heartbroken at the loss of two of our finest police officers who were killed in the line of duty, protecting the community we love.”
“This is an exceptionally shocking and sad day for Santa Cruz and our police department,” Bryant said.
Goulet, a barista at a coffee shop in the Santa Cruz harbor, was previously convicted in Portland, Ore., in May 2008 of peeping on a 22-year-old woman who was showering in her condominium and of carrying concealed weapon, according to a Portland newspaper, The Oregonian. He was on probation but was sentenced to two years in jail after a dispute with his probation officer.
His father, Ronald Goulet, of Rosamond, told the San Francisco Chronicle late Tuesday his son had texted his twin brother to say he was in trouble. He said his son may have been reluctant to return to jail after serving two years in Oregon, but he said Jeremy Goulet had never been violent.
“Why was he on the run? I'm just trying to hang with it, to make sense of it,” Ronald Goulet said.
The shootings came amid a recent spike in assaults, which community leaders had planned to address in a downtown rally scheduled for Tuesday. That, along with a City Council meeting, was canceled after teary-eyed city leaders learned of the deaths.
The recent violence included the killing of a 32-year-old martial arts instructor who was shot outside a popular downtown bar and restaurant; the robbery of a student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who was shot in the head; a 21-year-old woman who was raped and beaten on the UC campus; and a couple who fought off two men during a home invasion.