SANTA CRUZ (CBS SF) — Two Santa Cruz police officers were shot and killed Tuesday afternoon while investigating a sexual assault, while their suspected shooter died in an exchange of gunfire with police a short time later, authorities and witnesses said.
“The (Santa Cruz Police) Department is in mourning. We lost two exceptionally fine officers today. It’s a horrible, horrible day,” Police Chief Kevin Vogel told KPIX 5 and KCBS All News 740 AM & FM 106.9 near the scene of the shootings.
The deaths of Sgt. Loran “Butch” Baker and Det. Elizabeth Butler, marked the first time officers had been killed in the line of duty in the SCPD’s history. Baker, a married father of two daughters, was a 28-year veteran of the department; Butler was a 10-year veteran of the department and leaves behind two young sons.
The deceased suspect was identified by authorities as 35-year-old city resident Jeremy Goulet. While local investigators said they were not immediately aware of any prior criminal history involving Goulet, records obtained by KPIX from the state of Oregon showed Goulet had prior felony arrests in Portland.
Goulet is said to have opened fire and fatally shot the two plainclothes detectives outside his house in the 800 block of North Branciforte Avenue around 3:30 p.m. as they were investigating a sexual assault. The suspected cop shooter was shot and killed a short time later in a gunfight that broke out nearby in the 100 block of Doyle Drive with police who were in pursuit of him.
Witnesses described hearing a “multitude of gunfire” – with 20 or more shots fired during that gun battle between the suspect and law enforcement.
A clerk at the Darco Printing and Paper Store just down the street from the shootout location said the barrage of gunfire was “terrifying.”
“It was fairly close,” said Megan, who declined to give her last name. “We ducked. We have big desks so under the desks we went.”
The store employees then watched as police and sheriff’s deputies swarmed the neighborhood; “At one point there were approximately 20 officers all hiding behind a van with their guns drawn,” Megan said.
Business nearby remained on lockdown a few hours after the shootings as officers went door to door in the area in what they described as a precautionary search to ensure that there was not a second suspect hiding somewhere. Authorities said that search finally concluded around 9:30 p.m. with no additional suspects found.
Several schools, including Midtown Montessori, were also locked down during the shooting incidents. About 7 p.m., the students were all evacuated by bus to the County Government Center about half a mile away at 701 Ocean Street, where they were reunited with their parents.
As darkness fell, helicopters and light aircraft patrolled above the neighborhood where the shootings occurred, which was about one mile from downtown Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and five miles from the University of California-Santa Cruz campus. Investigators said they expected to be gathering evidence at the two crime scenes overnight and into Wednesday.
The FBI, California Highway Patrol, sheriff’s deputies from Santa Cruz, Monterey and Santa Clara counties, along with police officers from nearby Capitola, Scotts Valley and Watsonville all responded to assist Santa Cruz police following the shootings.
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