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Thousands Mourn Slain Santa Cruz Police Officers

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The caskets of Sgt. Loran 'Butch' Baker and Det. Elizabeth Butler are led out of HP Pavilion in San Jose at the conclusion of the officers' memorial, March 7, 2013. (CBS)

The flag-draped caskets of Sgt. Loran ‘Butch’ Baker and Det. Elizabeth Butler are led out of HP Pavilion in San Jose at the conclusion of the officers’ memorial, March 7, 2013. (CBS)

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – Mourners packed HP Pavilion in San Jose for a memorial Thursday for two Santa Cruz police officers killed in the line of duty last week.

The speakers included former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel and Santa Cruz Mayor Hilary Bryant.

Gov. Jerry Brown was among those attending Thursday’s memorial, but he did not speak.

Santa Cruz police Sgt. Loran “Butch” Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler were gunned down the afternoon of Feb. 26 while following up on a report of a misdemeanor sexual assault. The shooter, 35-year-old Jeremy Goulet, was later killed in a gun battle with authorities.

Singer James Durbin, of American Idol fame, performed the song “Arms Wide Open” at the request of the victims’ family members.

The memorial was held at the 20,000-seat HP Pavilion because there were no venues in Santa Cruz big enough to accommodate the expected crowds.

However, a live broadcast of the memorial was shown at the Kaiser Permanente Arena at 140 Front St. in Santa Cruz.

The two officers’ flag-draped coffins were displayed on the floor of the venue, flanked by two Santa Cruz police patrol cars. Podiums and floral wreaths had been set up on a stage nearby, and a bagpipe ensemble began and ended the proceedings.

During the ceremony, there were photos of Butler as a girl and as a teenager, then pregnant and with a newborn. She left behind her partner Peter Wu and her children, 5-year-old Joaquin and 2-year-old Stellan.

A few minutes later, while the song “Endless Love” played, a photo of what appeared to be Baker and his wife at their high school prom was shown, along with photos of Baker with his children at the beach, at birthday parties, and at a Giants game at AT&T Park.

The program states that Baker and his wife were “childhood sweethearts and lifelong soulmates.”

“Butch and his wife Kelly were 10 and 11 years old when their love story began,” the program read.

Law enforcement officers from all over the country—and even from outside the U.S.— attend the memorial, Santa Cruz Deputy Chief Steve Clark said.

Among those in attendance were representatives from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, California State Parks rangers and police from Pismo Beach, Arroyo Grande, Morro Bay, Garden Grove and the California State University system.

A procession of vehicles heading to the memorial departed from Santa Cruz shortly before 9 a.m., starting on Third Street near the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

It traveled through the city before heading north on state Highway 17, then taking highways 85 and 87 toward the HP Pavilion, where two fire trucks from San Jose and Santa Cruz had formed an arch with their ladders from which a large American flag was hanging.

The procession was several miles long, stretching from Summit Road to Vine Hill Road as it traveled north over Highway 17, California Highway Patrol Officer Tom Bowen said. It included police, firefighters, CHP officers and paramedics, as well as family members of Baker and Butler.

Capitola resident Lyn Henry was one of the locals who headed to the boardwalk Thursday morning to see the procession off.

“I came today to show my complete support and admiration of the officers,” Henry said. “They take care of us and protect us every day.”

Praf Patel, who has lived in Santa Cruz for 20 years, said he believes the tragedy will bring community members together.

“This is very sad for the city of Santa Cruz. You don’t expect something like this to happen,” Patel said. “Santa Cruz was already a tight-knit community and this makes us closer than before.

A scholarship fund has been launched for the families at www.cityofsantacruz.com.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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