The community of Santa Cruz is still in shock after two police officers were killed on the job Tuesday. It’s the first time an officer in the Santa Cruz Police Department has died in the line of duty.
Twenty-four hours after the murder of two police officers rocked Santa Cruz, a memorial continues to grow on the front lawn of the Santa Cruz Police Department. Hundreds of flowers, cards and candles honor two fallen police officers: Sergeant Loran “Butch” Baker and Officer Elizabeth Butler. Police Chief Kevin Vogel says the department is deeply saddened by the loss. “We’re a small department, we consider ourselves to be family. Today, as I said yesterday, is one of our darkest days in the history of the department. Today we mourn the loss of our brother Butch and our sister Elizabeth and we grieve with their families,” said Chief Vogel.
The two officers were investigating a sexual assault case on North Branciforte Drive that involved 35-year old Jeremy Goulet. After approaching his doorstep, both detectives were shot and killed, allegedly by Goulet. Police say he then then stole the officer’s guns and car, but didn’t leave the neighborhood. Officers responding to calls of officers down, pursued Goulet on foot and more gunfire was exchanged before Goulet was shot and killed by officers.
Wednesday at a press conference outside the Santa Cruz Police Department, new info emerged about the alleged shooter. Santa Cruz Sheriff Phil Wowack says when they found Goulet he was wearing body armor that may have been stolen from the fallen officers’ car, along with guns he used in the second shootout with police. Sheriff Wowack says Goulet, who recently was fired from a local coffee shop, was despondent and distraught before the shooting. “The people that we’ve spoken to that have had contact with him characterize his personality as being angry, as being destructive in nature and that he made - not specific comments about specific people including the police - but he made specific comments about being unhappy in his life and that led them to believe that he may be either suicidal or homicidal,” said Sheriff Wowack.
Tuesday’s shooting left community members trying to make sense of the violence. The city has experienced a recent spike in crime including a sexual assault, armed robbery, home invasion, attempted murder and murder. Denise Paris-Shaw, a fourth generation Santa Cruz local, says the community has responded with overwhelming support. “People just pouring out love and prayers, and in disbelief, because this doesn’t happen to a small community like this. You, know I grew up here all my life and this is just devastating for all of us here that live here in Santa Cruz,” said Denise Paris-Shaw
The two fallen officers leave behind many friends and family in the Santa Cruz community. Sergeant Baker was a 28-year veteran of the force and is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son. Officer Butler served 10 years and leaves behind a partner and two young sons.
Although the suspect is dead, the investigation is far from over. Anyone with information is should contact the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office at 831-454-2311.