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Category: Homicide Report

Las Vegas Strip shooting suspect is a pimp, sources say

Ammar HarrisThe man suspected in a shooting and chain-reaction car crash on the Las Vegas Strip is a self-described pimp who was previously arrested on sexual assault and pandering, or pimping, charges, law enforcement sources said.

Ammar Harris, 26, was taken into custody by FBI agents and Los Angeles police about midday Thursday in the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles police Cmdr. Andrew Smith confirmed to The Times. Las Vegas police confirmed the arrest.

Police and FBI agents said he was being held on suspicion of murder and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

PHOTOS: Shots fired on the Las Vegas strip

The Feb. 21 shooting and crash left three people dead, including Kenneth Cherry Jr., an Oakland native and rapper known as Kenny Clutch. Las Vegas police allege that Harris opened fire on Cherry's Maserati on Las Vegas Boulevard after an altercation at a valet stand at the Aria hotel resort.

The Maserati then sped into the intersection at Flamingo Road, where it rammed a Yellow Cab, officials said. The taxi exploded, killing the driver and passenger inside. Four other vehicles were involved in the fiery crash.

Both Cherry and a passenger in the Maserati were taken to an area hospital, where Cherry was pronounced dead, police said. Three other people were injured in the crash.

Interactive map: Shooting in Las Vegas

In a video released by Las Vegas police, Harris flashed a fistful of $100 bills as he bragged about the money. He also bragged about money, guns, expensive cars and run-ins with the law on his Twitter account, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. The Twitter account reportedly has since been deleted.

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Suspect in Las Vegas shooting, crash arrested in L.A., sources say

Ammar HarrisA suspect wanted in connection with a shooting and crash last week on the Las Vegas Strip that left three people dead was arrested Thursday in Los Angeles, sources said.

Ammar Harris, 26, was taken into custody by FBI agents and Los Angeles police in the San Fernando Valley around midday, sources said.

Las Vegas police described Harris as "armed and dangerous" with an "extensive and violent criminal history" when they named him as a suspect two days after the Feb. 21 shooting, which officials believe began as a predawn altercation in the valet parking lot of the Aria resort hotel.

PHOTOS: Shots fired on the Las Vegas strip

Authorities said two vehicles left the parking lot onto Las Vegas Boulevard: a Range Rover believed to be driven by Harris, and a Maserati driven by Kenneth Cherry Jr., an Oakland native and aspiring rapper known as "Kenny Clutch."

Police allege that Harris opened fire on the Maserati, peppering the vehicle with bullets. The sports car sped into the intersection at Flamingo Road, where it rammed a Yellow Cab. The taxi exploded, killing the driver and passenger inside.

Four other vehicles were involved in the fiery crash, officials said.

Interactive map: Shooting in Las Vegas

Both Cherry and a passenger in the Maserati were taken to an area hospital, where Cherry was pronounced dead, police said. Three other people were injured in the crash.

The Range Rover was discovered two days after the shooting at a Las Vegas-area apartment complex, police said.

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Photo: Ammar Harris. Source: Las Vegas Metro Police Department

Santa Cruz reeling after 2 police detectives killed in shootout

PHOTOS: Two Santa Cruz police officers killed

Santa Cruz was in mourning after two police detectives were killed in a shootout Tuesday.

The city's Police Department, which has less than 100 sworn officers, had operated for 150 years without losing a single one in the line of duty. Until Tuesday afternoon, when two veteran detectives in plainclothes walked up to Jeremy Goulet's house as part of a misdemeanor sexual assault investigation.

Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker, 51, and Det. Elizabeth Butler, 38, were killed on Goulet's doorstep, Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak said during a news conference near an impromptu memorial at police headquarters.

PHOTOS: Two Santa Cruz police officers killed

"We don't know all that happened when they came into contact with Goulet," said Wowak, whose department is leading the investigation so Santa Cruz police can mourn. "We do know what was left in the aftermath."

"Thank you for your service Santa Cruz Police Department. RIP Detective Baker. RIP Detective Butler." That's what Mary Gregg wrote in neat black letters on yellow construction paper, hanging her message in the window of the downtown check-cashing store where she works.

"Something," she felt, "had to be said today."

Best known for its surfing museum and a roller coaster that Bay Area newspaper columnist Herb Caen described as "one long shriek," Santa Cruz is not used to the kind of pain that rippled through town the day after a gunfight left two veteran detectives — and the man they were investigating — dead.

The 35-year-old Goulet, who had a long history of run-ins with the law, killed and disarmed the detectives before fleeing in Baker's car, Wowak said. Law enforcement officers from throughout the region began a sweep of the Santa Cruz neighborhood where Baker and Butler were slain. A short time later, Goulet ditched the car and tried to flee on foot.

In the ensuing gun battle, Wowak said, Goulet shot up a firetruck, sending firefighters, medical personnel and passersby scrambling. After killing the suspect, authorities discovered Goulet had been wearing body armor and had three guns.

"It is our belief that two of the three weapons belonged to the Santa Cruz Police Department, but we haven't confirmed it," said Wowak, adding that it was still unclear whether Goulet had taken the body armor from Baker's car or had it on before the shooting broke out.

"We know now that he was distraught," the sheriff said. "We know now that he had the intention of harming himself and possibly the police. ... There's no doubt in anyone's mind that the officers who engaged Goulet stopped an imminent threat to the community."

Goulet had been arrested Friday on suspicion of disorderly conduct. Local news accounts said he had broken into the home of a co-worker and had been fired from his job at The Kind Grind coffeehouse Saturday. A manager at the beachfront shop declined to comment Wednesday.

According to Goulet's father, the barista — who recently had moved from Berkeley to Santa Cruz — was a ticking time bomb who held police and the justice system in deep contempt. Ronald Goulet, 64, told the Associated Press that his son had had numerous run-ins with the law and had sworn he would never go back to jail.

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Gunman who killed 2 Santa Cruz cops wore body armor, police say

Jeremy Goulet, the man suspected of killing two Santa Cruz police officers Tuesday, was wearing body armor and carrying three handguns, authorities discovered after Goulet was fatally wounded in a shootout with authorities, Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak said.

Police suspect Goulet was carrying the guns of the two officers, Elizabeth Butler and Loran "Butch" Baker, Wowak told reporters. The officers were killed on the doorstep of Goulet's Santa Cruz home, he said.

The shootings began about 3:30 p.m. when a man, believed to be Goulet, opened fire on the two officers, who were conducting a follow-up investigation at a home, authorities said.

PHOTOS: Two Santa Cruz police officers killed

Wowak said the officers were wearing plain clothes and were attempting to obtain information from Goulet, who had been accused in a sexual assault case.  

The officers had “no suspicion they would be in danger,” he said.

Butler was a 10-year Santa Cruz Police Department veteran, and Baker was a 28-year veteran, authorities said.

“There should be no suspicion or second-guessing on how they ended up where they were,” Wowak said. “They were just doing their job.”

Goulet had come to Santa Cruz, a seaside community about 60 miles south of San Francisco, “just months ago,” Wowak said.

After the officers were shot, Goulet allegedly disarmed them and stole Baker’s vehicle, Wowak said. He left the home but remained in the neighborhood, he said.

“It’s our belief that he remained in the neighborhood … due to the overwhelming number of law enforcement officers that were responding to the incident.”

Wowak said details have emerged about Goulet through interviews with people who knew him.

He was characterized as being “angry,” “destructive in nature” and as being “unhappy in his life,” Wowak said. Acquaintances suspected he was “either suicidal or homicidal,” he said.

Goulet was arrested Friday on suspicion of disorderly conduct at the same location where the two officers were killed, according to the sheriff's online records.

News accounts from the Oregonian newspaper in Portland state that in 2008, a Jeremy Peter Goulet was sentenced to three years' probation and sex-offender treatment after a conviction for peeping at a 22-year-old woman as she showered in her northwest Portland condo.

The Oregonian also reported that jurors convicted Goulet of carrying a gun without a concealed weapons permit.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, jurors cleared Goulet of an attempted murder charge after determining his weapon went off accidentally during an altercation with the boyfriend of the woman in the shower.

He later served two years in prison after a dispute with his probation officer, the Chronicle reported. He agreed to prison time rather than undergoing court-ordered sex offender treatment, according to the Chronicle.

On Tuesday night, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office had taken over patrol duties in the city and was leading the investigation into the shootings.

The city of Santa Cruz was still reeling from the shootings. The city is best known for its famed surf spots, seaside amusement park and diverse community that includes a University of California campus.

But in recent weeks, a UC Santa Cruz student was shot in the head, another student was reportedly raped and a home-invasion robbery left residents on edge.

“This is a horrific day. We lost two exceptionally fine officers,” a visibly shaken Police Chief Kevin Vogel told reporters Tuesday night. “We need to figure out a way to bring our department together and get through this.”

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12-hour police standoff in Santa Monica ends in suicide

A gunman killed himself inside a Santa Monica home Wednesday after a nearly 12-hour standoff that involved two hostages, authorities said. 

After communication with the man broke down, SWAT team members fired tear gas and entered the home at around 4:30 a.m. and found the man dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Nobody else was hurt, said Santa Monica police Sgt. Richard Lewis.

Police say the 47-year-old man was despondent and depressed over his estrangement with his wife before he took his 15-year-old son and 86-year-old mother-in-law hostage on Tuesday. His wife wasn't home at the time.

The boy escaped and called 911, and police surrounded the home at around 5 p.m., evacuating about a square block and displacing many neighbors. 

The man's mother-in-law left the home some five hours later, and communication with police negotiators ended at that point. Throughout the ordeal, the man was armed with multiple weapons, Lewis said.

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Killings of 2 Santa Cruz police officers leaves town devastated

This post has been updated. See the note below for details.

The killings of two Santa Cruz police officers in a shootout with a suspect Tuesday marked the first line-of-duty deaths in the Police Department's history and sparked mourning across the seaside city.

Residents placed candles near the scene of the shooting and memorials were popping up on websites.

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

PHOTOS: Two Santa Cruz police officers killed

“You’re seeing people grieving and in shock,” she said. “There’s people crying, there’s people mad."

The city, about 60 miles south of San Francisco, is best known for its famed surf spots, seaside amusement park and diverse community that includes a University of California campus.

But in recent weeks, a UC Santa Cruz student was shot in the head, another student was reportedly raped and a home-invasion robbery left residents on edge.

“Santa Cruz has always been a different, eclectic kind of town,” Cube told The Times, breaking down in tears as she talked about the killings. “Now it’s just gotten ugly, though.”

The Facebook group page for Take Back Santa Cruz, which is closed to outsiders, was filled with posts Tuesday night expressing anguish and anger, according to Cube.

“This is a horrific day. We lost two exceptionally fine officers,” a visibly shaken Police Chief Kevin Vogel told reporters. “We need to figure out a way to bring our department together and get through this.”

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office had taken over patrol duties in the city Tuesday night and was leading the investigation into the shootings.

Continue reading »

Slayings of 2 officers in Santa Cruz mark 'darkest day,' chief says

The killings of Santa Cruz police officers in a shootout with a suspect Tuesday marked "the darkest day" in the Police Department's history, the police chief said.

“This is a horrific day. We lost two exceptionally fine officers,” a visibly shaken Police Chief Kevin Vogel told reporters. “We need to figure out a way to bring our department together and get through this.”

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office had taken over patrol duties in the city Tuesday night and was leading the investigation into the shootings.

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

Elizabeth Butler hailed from Torrance and was a 10-year Santa Cruz Police Department veteran, police said. She was killed with 28-year veteran Loren "Butch" Baker on Tuesday afternoon, when they were conducting a follow-up criminal investigation at a home, law enforcement authorities said.

The suspected shooter, Jeremy Peter Goulet, 35, was shot dead about 30 minutes later in a second gun battle with officers, according to police.

Butler and Baker "encountered Goulet as they did a search of the area. He engaged them in gunfire and was subsequently killed," Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak told reporters Tuesday night.

The loss of the two officers followed a recent series of violent incidents in the city and was especially devastating for the small Police Department, which has about 90 sworn officers.

Baker is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son who is a community service worker at the Police Department. Butler leaves behind a partner and two young sons, Vogel said.

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

The city, about 60 miles south of San Francisco, is best known for its famed surf spots, seaside amusement park and diverse community that includes a University of California campus.

Continue reading »

One of 2 slain Santa Cruz officers was from L.A. area, police say

Officers swarm Santa Cruz shooting scene Tuesday
One of the two Santa Cruz police officers slain in a shootout was raised in the Los Angeles area, authorities said Tuesday night.

Elizabeth Butler hailed from Torrance and was a 10-year Santa Cruz Police Department veteran, police said. She was killed with 28-year veteran Loren "Butch" Baker on Tuesday afternoon, when they were conducting a follow-up criminal investigation at a home, law enforcement authorities said.

The suspected shooter, Jeremy Peter Goulet, 35, was shot dead about 30 minutes later in a second gun battle with officers, according to police.

Butler and Baker "encountered Goulet as they did a search of the area. He engaged them in gunfire and was subsequently killed," Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak told reporters Tuesday night.

The loss of the two officers followed a recent series of violent incidents in the city and was especially devastating for the small Police Department, which has about 94 sworn officers.

“This is a horrific day. We lost two exceptionally fine officers,” a visibly shaken Police Chief Kevin Vogel told reporters. “We need to figure out a way to bring our department together and get through this.”

Baker is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son who is a community service worker at the Police Department. Butler leaves behind a partner and two young sons, Vogel said.

"This is the darkest day in the history of the Santa Cruz Police Department," Vogel told reporters Tuesday night.

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

The city, about 60 miles south of San Francisco, is best known for its famed surf spots, seaside amusement park and diverse community that includes a University of California campus.

But in recent weeks, a UC Santa Cruz student was shot in the head, another student was reportedly raped and a home-invasion robbery left residents on edge.

“Santa Cruz has always been a different, eclectic kind of town,” Cube told The Times, breaking down in tears as she talked about the killings. “Now it’s just gotten ugly though.”

The 39-year-old business owner and mother of two had just walked into a City Council meeting Tuesday afternoon when Chief 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.

As the incident unfolded, Santa Cruz police issued an alert for a Jeremy Peter Goulet, 35, but did not explain his potential role.

News accounts from the Oregonian newspaper in Portland state that a Jeremy Peter Goulet was sentenced to three years' probation and sex-offender treatment after a conviction for peeping at a 22-year-old woman as she showered in her Northwest Portland condo.

The Oregonian also reported that jurors also convicted Goulet of carrying a gun without a concealed weapons permit.

The deadly shootings Tuesday followed a commitment by the Santa Cruz City Council to increase funding for the Police Department, which is running about nine officers short.

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office had taken over patrol duties in the city Tuesday night and was leading the investigation into the shootings.

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

The Facebook group page for Take Back Santa Cruz, which is closed to outsiders, was filled with posts Tuesday night expressing anguish and anger, according to Cube.

“You’re seeing people grieving and in shock,” she said. “There’s people crying, there’s people mad. People are starting to talk about carrying guns around.”

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Photo: Officers swarm shooting scene. Credit: Dan Coyro/ Associated Press/Santa Cruz Sentinel

Fatal shooting of 2 Santa Cruz officers leaves city in shock

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."

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Two officers, suspect killed in Santa Cruz shootout

 

Two Santa Cruz police detectives and a suspect died Tuesday afternoon after a shootout in the seaside town, according to local media reports.

The violence broke out about 3:30 p.m. when the detectives were conducting an investigation in the 800 block of North Branciforte Avenue, a residential neighborhood near busy Soquel Avenue. A gunman opened fire and struck the two detectives, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported.

The suspected gunman apparently fled the area and was confronted by officers about 30 minutes later. The suspect died in a second shootout with officers, according to the news report.

"This is a horrific day. We lost two exceptionally fine officers today," Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel told the Sentinel. 

It was unclear whether there were additional suspects, but authorities said they were going door to door Tuesday evening as a precaution.

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--From A Times Staff Writer
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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