Friends and family of two slain Santa Cruz officers offered tributes to them on Wednesday.
Officers Elizabeth Butler and Loran “Butch” Baker died Tuesday afternoon after confronting a suspect police identified as Jeremy Goulet, who died in a subsequent shootout.
Susan Valot, a freelance reporter for the California Report, remembered Elizabeth Butler from schooldays. Butler was “always smiling and laughing, always nice to everyone,” Valot recalled. “Someone at the Bishop Montgomery High School Class of 1992 page described her I think the best. He said that she had the rare gift to be ‘herself’ at a young age.”
Deborah Elston, a community activist, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel Baker, a veteran near retirement from the police, “just a salt-of-the-earth guy… very personable, thoughtful and very approachable.”
Goulet, had a troubled past, the newspaper reported:
In 2008, Goulet was accused and convicted of a sex crime, allegedly filming an unsuspecting Portland, Ore. woman in the shower. When the victim’s boyfriend later tried to apprehend Goulet, Goulet fired a handgun during a struggle.
Here’s the Bay City News account of the killings:
SANTA CRUZ (BCN) Two veteran officers were shot and killed in Santa Cruz today, sparking a series of events that led to a fatal afternoon shootout with the suspect in what the police chief called “the darkest day in the history of the Santa Cruz Police Department.”
Sgt. Loran “Butch” Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler were both shot and killed after going to the home of 35-year-old Jeremy Goulet in the 800 block of North Branciforte Avenue at about 3:30 p.m. as part of an investigation, law enforcement officials said.
Baker and Butler were dressed in plain clothes during the follow-up investigation at Goulet’s home, and shortly after they arrived there was an altercation with a suspect believed to be Goulet, and eventually both officers were shot and the suspect fled, Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak said.
Neighbors quickly reported hearing the shots, prompting more police and sheriff’s deputies to respond and find the two fallen officers. They set up a perimeter to search for the suspect and attempted life-saving efforts on Baker and Butler, Wowak said.
While searching the neighborhood, officers located Goulet who opened fire on them, leading to a shootout that left Goulet dead at the scene, Wowak said.
Residents in the area said that the shootout was in the 100 block of Doyle Drive near the Whole Foods Market, and that residents and businesses in the area were warned not to go outside.
An employee of a local business said that 20 officers were hiding outside with guns drawn and a short time later she heard gunfire down the street.
Sheriff’s deputies then conducted a door-to-door search of the neighborhood to ensure that there was not a second suspect hiding somewhere in the neighborhood.
Wowak said that search was just concluding at about 9:30 p.m. during a news conference to release details about the two shooting incidents.
No additional suspects are being sought tonight, sheriff’s spokeswoman April Skalland said.
Several schools in the area were locked down after the first shooting, and students had to stay in the school until they were able to board a school bus around 7 p.m. heading to the county building at 701 Ocean St. to be reunited with their families, Skalland said.
Parents of students at the schools said that some of the elementary school children had been outside playing and waiting for their parents to pick them up at the time of the first shooting, and were quickly called back inside as the police action progressed.
The police action involved multiple agencies, including police from Scotts Valley and Capitola, the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI.
The two fallen officers both leave behind families. Baker, a 28-year veteran of the force, leaves behind his wife, two daughters and a son who now works with Santa Cruz police as a community service officer, police Chief Kevin Vogel said.
Vogel called Baker a longtime friend, and a “mentor.”
Butler was a 10-year veteran assigned to investigations and leaves behind her husband Peter and two young sons, Vogel said.
“I want to express my heartfelt thank you to every member of our community that’s reached out over this tragic situation,” Vogel said, noting that the department had never had an officer killed in the line of duty in its history.