SANTA CRUZ, Cal. - The quiet of the seaside community known as Santa Cruz 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. Loran 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.
In May 2008, he was convicted in Portland, Ore., 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. Goulet 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 may have been reluctant to return to jail but had never been violent, Ronald Goulet said of his son.
"Why was he on the run? I'm just trying to hang with it, to make sense of it," he said.
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 shot at police and was killed in the gunfire that followed, authorities 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 (http://bit.ly/15Qc75M ). Loran 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.
Loran 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 (http://bit.ly/YZ1w2Z ).
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.
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.
Police in Santa Cruz, Calif., were trying to determine Wednesday what set off two shootouts that left two officers and a suspect dead on what the chief of police called "the darkest day in the history of the Santa Cruz Police Department."
The tragedy is the most brutal in a recent rash of violent crimes in the coastal city of 60,000 people about 70 miles south of San Francisco.
Police Chief Kevin Vogel said Sgt. Loren Butch Baker, a 28-year veteran of the force, and Detective Elizabeth Butler, a 10-year veteran, were shot and killed Tuesday as they followed up on a sexual assault investigation.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak told the Santa Cruz Sentinel that the suspect, Jeremy Goulet, 35, was shot killed about 30 minutes later in a barrage of gunfire with other officers just a few blocks away from where the officers were killed.
They were shot while following up on allegations that Goulet, a barista, made inappropriate sexual advances on a co-worker at her home last week, authorities said.
"Our department is in mourning; this is a horrific day," Vogel said. Baker was married and the father of two daughters, while Butler leaves behind two young sons.
"Tonight we are heartbroken at the loss of two of our finest police officers who were killed in the line of duty, protecting the community we love," Mayor Hilary Bryant said Tuesday night. "This is an exceptionally shocking and sad day for Santa Cruz and our police department. We offer our deepest sympathy and prayers to the families and the fellow officers of our fallen heroes."
Schools Superintendent Gary Bloom told the Sentinel that about 50 students and adults were present at the nearby Branciforte Small Schools campus, a home for alternative programs, when the shooting took place around 3:30 p.m. Gunshots were audible inside the building, he said.
Bloom said about 100 people were at nearby Branciforte Middle School, which was briefly locked down. Bloom said the schools opened Wednesday.
"We will be working with staff to talk kids through the trauma of this event," he told the Sentinel.
A store clerk a few buildings from the shooting said the final shootout was "terrifying."
"We ducked. We have big desks so under the desks we went," said the clerk, who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity and asked that her store not be identified because she feared for her safety.
The Sentinel said the shooting comes after several weeks of turmoil in the city, including a murder, a violent grocery store robbery, a home-invasion robbery, the shooting of a UC Santa Cruz student and the rape of another woman on campus.
Deborah Elston, co-founder of Santa Cruz Neighbors, told the Sentinel that the events of the last few weeks make her feel "like my freedom and safety are being challenged, I am also saying now is the time to be stronger. Sadly I hope this will wake people up to the truth about some underlying things going on in this community."
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