Mystery donor leaves Purple Heart for fallen Santa Cruz officers
As the Santa Cruz community grieved last Tuesday’s slayings of two police detectives, offerings of condolence piled up near the department’s main doors: flowers, candles, chocolates and ... a Purple Heart.
The medal, granted to members of the U.S. Armed Forces wounded in combat, was tied with a red ribbon around the neck of a small tan-and-white teddy bear. Its donor chose to remain anonymous, police officials reported on the department blog, but attached this note:
The teddy bear reflects the love of our community for the police and all the work they endure during their shifts, the red ribbon reflects the precious blood shed in the line of duty, the Purple Heart is for the sacrifice above and beyond the call of duty, when one loses their life for the protection of others and the greater good. I know you will understand.
“This is no small gift,” a member of the department wrote on the blog. “The immense sacrifice of this unidentified soldier is represented in this medal they earned…. The words escape us to adequately describe how honored we are that you would choose these officers to offer this gift. We retrieved the medal and will store it safely for our officers’ families.”
Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker, 51, and Det. Elizabeth Butler, 38, were gunned down Tuesday afternoon by a Santa Cruz man they had sought to question as part of a misdemeanor sexual assault investigation. They are the first officers slain in the line of duty in the department’s 150-year history. The suspect, Jeremy Goulet, 35, was later killed in a gunfight with other officers.
A memorial will be held at noon Thursday at San Jose’s HP Pavilion.
The decorated teddy bear was discovered at the makeshift altar Thursday as the Police Department resumed operations after a day of grieving.
“Whoever you are,” the department blog reads, “we know you are a Sentry watching over our City, State and Country … and you too are worthy of honor.”
-- Lee Romney in San Francisco
Photo: A teddy bear wearing a Purple Heart is part of the memorial for slain Santa Cruz police officers. Credit: Shmuel Thaler / Santa Cruz Sentinel