Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Fatal shooting of 2 Santa Cruz officers leaves city in shock

February 26, 2013 |  8:12 pm

Sheriff's deputies were patrolling Santa Cruz on Tuesday night after a shootout left two city police officers and a suspect dead and rocked residents and officers in the eclectic seaside city.

The violence erupted about 3:30 p.m., when a gunman opened fire on two Santa Cruz Police Department officers who were conducting an investigation in a residential neighborhood near Brancforte and Doyle streets, law enforcement authorities said.

Both officers were fatally wounded as the suspect fled the area. Officers from multiple law enforcement agencies flooded the area and began searching for the shooter.

The suspected gunman was found about 30 minutes later and was killed in a second shootout with officers.

The loss of the two officers shook the tiny department, which has about 94 sworn officers.

"We need to figure out a way to bring our department together and get through this," a visibly shaken Chief Kevin Vogel told reporters. "This is a horrific day."

Authorities declined to identify the slain officers, citing respect for family members. The name of suspected shooter was also not released. 

Analicia Cube, who founded the community group Take Back Santa Cruz in late 2009, called the deaths “just devastating for our community.”

The 39-year-old business owner and mother of two had just walked into a City Council meeting Tuesday afternoon when Vogel ran past her and sped off in his cruiser. Then her phone rang. A group member had heard it on the scanner: two officers down.

An hour later, as rumors circulated through the chambers, Mayor Hilary Bryant declared a five-minute recess. When council members emerged from a closed session, some were crying.

“We’re a small community with big-city problems,” Cube said of the losses, breaking down in tears as she described the department’s first deaths in the line of duty.

The shootings came on the heels of a bad rash of crime: a UC Santa Cruz student shot in the head, a home-invasion robbery and more.  

The violence also followed a commitment by the City Council to increase funding for the Police Department, which is running about nine officers short.

 “Santa Cruz has always been a different, eclectic kind of town,” Cube said. “Now it’s just gotten ugly though.”

 The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office was leading the investigation into the shootings.

"My primary concern at this point," Vogel said, "is for the safety and well-being of my officers as well as the families of the deceased officers."


House fire in Hawthorne kills one person, injures another

Distress call from sinking sailboat may be hoax, Coast Guard says

O.C. man arrested in assault with crowbar at San Diego gas station

--Lee Romney in San Francisco and Robert J. Lopez in Los Angeles