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Santa Cruz police returning to work after deadly shooting

February 28, 2013 |  7:29 am

Santa Cruz police officers prepared to return to patrol Thursday after two of their own were killed earlier this week by a distraught suspect wearing body armor.

Chief Kevin Vogel, standing near an impromptu memorial for the slain officers at police headquarters Wednesday, was trembling and close to tears.

"We're having a tough time with this," he said at a news conference. "We're doing the best job that we know how. It's been devastating. There are absolutely no words for me to describe what this department is going through."

PHOTOS: Two Santa Cruz police officers killed

The small department -- which has fewer than 100 sworn officers -- was in mourning after two veteran detectives were killed Tuesday. Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker, 51, and Det. Elizabeth Butler, 38, were killed on Jeremy Goulet's doorstep; they had gone to his house as part of a misdemeanor sexual assault investigation, officials said. Goulet was later killed in a shootout with police.

Until Tuesday, the department had operated for 150 years without losing a single officer in the line of duty.

The department gave its officers the day off Wednesday, and the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office and California Highway Patrol took over patrol duties in the city. Grief counselors were made available for Santa Cruz police personnel.

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

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 fire engine, sending firefighters, medical personnel and passersby scrambling. After the suspect was shot and killed, authorities discovered that 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 was already wearing it when 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 just 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 to Santa Cruz from Berkeley — 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 encounters with the law and had sworn he would never go back to jail.

But the elder Goulet said he never thought his troubled son would turn to such violence.

Goulet said his son undermined any success he had in the military (he reportedly was a member of the Marine Corps Reserves and later the Army) or college because of an insatiable desire to peep in the windows of women as they showered or dressed.

"He's got one problem, peeping in windows," his father said. "I asked him, 'Why don't you just go to a strip club?' He said he wants a good girl that doesn't know she's being spied on, and said he couldn't stop doing it."

In 2008, a Portland, Ore., jury convicted Jeremy Goulet on misdemeanor counts of unlawful possession of a firearm and invasion of personal privacy after he peeked into a woman's bathroom as she showered, said Don Rees, a chief deputy district attorney in Multnomah County.

Goulet faced additional charges, including attempted murder, after he allegedly fired a gun at the woman's boyfriend. The two had fought after Goulet was spotted outside the woman's condo, but a jury acquitted him of those charges, Rees said.

During the trial, Goulet admitted that he liked to use his cellphone to record unsuspecting women undressing, according to the Oregonian newspaper. Prosecutors alleged he had peeped at women "hundreds of times" without getting caught.

Goulet was given three years' probation, Rees said, but spent time in jail after his probation was revoked.

On Wednesday, Denise Shaw brought a bouquet of red and white roses to the makeshift memorial at police headquarters. She laid it alongside the chocolate-filled hearts, candles and handwritten notes. She listened as local officials gave voice to the city's grief.

"They weren't just officers," Mayor Hilary Bryant said of Baker and Butler. "They were our friends. Our neighbors. They had families in our schools."

Butler left behind a partner, Peter, and two sons, ages, 5 and 1, Vogel said. She hailed from Torrance and was a 10-year department veteran.

Baker was a 28-year member of the department, police said. He is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son, Adam, who is a community service worker at the police department. Baker was nearing retirement, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported.


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 -- Lee Romney in Santa Cruz, Maria LaGanga in San Francisco and Hailey Branson-Potts in Los Angeles