News Column

Santa Cruz Shooter Took Detectives' Guns

February 28, 2013

Stephen Baxter, Santa Cruz Sentinel, Calif.

The gunman who killed two plainclothes Santa Cruz police detectives Tuesday grabbed their guns and took their car, launching a chase that forced three school lockdowns and a fatal shootout near a busy grocery store parking lot, authorities said Wednesday.

Jeremy Peter Goulet, 35, a trained military police officer, was a ticking time bomb, his father said. He wore body armor Tuesday and possessed three guns, using two to fire at firefighters and bystanders. Having been to jail for sex and weapons charges, he had sworn he would never go back, Goulet's father said.

People who knew Goulet said he was "despondent, distraught and destructive in nature" based on recent personal events, according to Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak, whose agency is investigating the case.

"There's no doubt in anybody's mind that those officers stopped an imminent threat to the community and neutralized it," Wowak said.

Wednesday, for the first time in the Santa Cruz Police Department's 150-year history, officers were not patrolling the streets, instead taking the time to grieve. Sheriff's deputies and the California Highway Patrol took on their duties.

"Our community is safe. We have as many officers covering today as yesterday," Vogel said.

During a somber news conference outside the Santa Cruz Police Department, which was shrouded in flowers, law enforcement leaders wore black bands on their badges to honor detective Sgt.

Loran "Butch" Baker, 51, and detective Elizabeth Butler, 38 -- the first Santa Cruz officers ever killed in the line of duty.

"It's been devastating. We've never experienced anything like this," said Vogel, who paused several times as he spoke of his former partner, mentor and friend. "Butch was my most skilled investigator."

Butler, a mother of two young boys, had a knack for investigating sexual assaults, Vogel said.

A Distraught Suspect

That was what brought the two seasoned officers to Goulet's North Branciforte Avenue home Tuesday afternoon.

Goulet, a barista who recently moved to Santa Cruz, was accused of breaking into a female co-worker's home just a few doors away Friday night and again on Tuesday.

Goulet's home was just doors away from hundreds of children at Midtown Montessori preschool and the nearby Branciforte Small Schools campus.

Officers knew of his history of sex and weapons charges, but they didn't know he was "distraught with intentions of potentially harming people," Wowak said.

Goulet shot both detectives on the doorstep of his home about 3 p.m., according to Wowak.

It was unclear Wednesday if the detectives contacted Goulet first, or if Baker or Butler wore bulletproof vests.

"I've known (Butch) for 28 years and he's done this thousands of times," Wowak said. "There should be no suspicion or second guessing as to how they wound up where they were."

After the shooting, Goulet took the officers' guns and drove Baker's unmarked car about a block down the street and parked, Wowak said. By that time, law enforcement from around the county were descending on the area responding to a 911 call of an officer down.

A Neighborhood on Lockdown

At least two law enforcement teams saw Goulet in the tense minutes that followed. Goulet moved from the back of his home on Branciforte to Doyle Street, Wowak said.

Some residents tried to leave their homes, but were shooed back inside by deputies with guns, witnesses said.

By then, a Santa Cruz Fire Department ladder truck was parked on Doyle Street in response to the officers who were shot, said Santa Cruz Fire Deputy Chief Mark Ramos.

Customers of Whole Foods and other busy shops near Doyle Drive were in the parking lot, while nearby residents came out to the fire truck, near three firefighters assigned to the engine.

When deputies and police spotted Goulet, he was pinned against a garage door, according to the Associated Press. Goulet opened fire on everyone.

Police fired back in a barrage of gunfire. A firefighter -- whose name was not released Wednesday -- tackled and shielded a woman on the ground while the rest of the crew got bystanders out of the way as at least four bullets flew overhead and struck the ladder truck, Ramos said.

Goulet was shot dead. No one was injured, but everyone was "shaken up," Ramos said. "I think everybody's in shock. We're sharing our sadness and grief with the rest of the city."

Megan Kausch, a Capitola resident, was sitting outside Whole Foods when the gunfight began.

"It was so loud, so many bullets back and forth," she said.

Goulet's Family Reacts

Goulet's father Ronald said his son texted his twin brother Tuesday, saying, "I'm in big trouble, I love you," the father told the AP.

"Jeff texted back and Jeremy wouldn't answer, and next thing we know he was shot and killed," he said.

Ronald Goulet told the AP that his son's problems with the law often stemmed from urges to spy on women.

"He's got one problem: peeping in windows," his father said. "I asked him, 'Why don't you just go to a strip club?' "

For several hours, authorities kept three schools and neighborhoods on lockdown, as they searched homes near the shooting to make sure there were no other suspects. No one was found, and police reopened streets near the shooting scenes hours later.

An unknown number of deputies and police who fired at Goulet were on paid administrative leave Wednesday, said deputy April Skalland.

Since the shooting, Vogel, the police chief, said "the outpouring of support has been phenomenal."

In addition to the support from law enforcement agencies in four other counties as well as every agency in Santa Cruz County, Vogel said condolence messages poured in from across the state and country.

State Attorney General Kamala Harris offered her prayers.

"These dedicated law enforcement professionals, who died in brave service to the people of California, will never be forgotten," she said.

Baker and Butler are the ninth and 10th law enforcement officers to be killed in the line of duty in Santa Cruz County history. There have been four homicides in Santa Cruz this year, bringing the total in Santa Cruz County to six.

In California this year, they are the fifth and sixth police officers to be killed, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a nonprofit group.

Wowak asked witnesses, especially with photos or videos of Tuesday's shooting, to contact investigators at www.scsheriff.com, 831-454-2311 or the anonymous tipline at 831-454-5995.

Line-of-duty Deaths in Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office

Deputy Michael Gray

Jan. 1983

Cause: Gunfire

Undersheriff Richard Rountree

Sept. 5, 1925

Cause: Gunfire

Sheriff Howard Trafton

Sept. 5, 1925

Cause: Gunfire

California Highway Patrol, Santa Cruz County

Officer John Pedro

June 3, 2002

Cause: Car crash during pursuit

Lt. Michael Walker

Dec. 31, 2005

Cause: Hit by vehicle while assisting stranded driver

Officer Donald Albert Hoover

1934

Cause: Motorcycle crash

Watsonville police

Officer John Whalen

Oct. 25, 1920

Cause: Gunfire

Night Watchman John Wesley Alford

Feb. 7, 1897

Cause: Gunfire

Scotts Valley police

None

UC Santa Cruz POlice

None

Capitola Police

None

SOURCES: Law enforcement agencies, www.odmp.org

HOW TO HELP

Memorial Fund

Bay Federal Credit Union is accepting donations for the families of Santa Cruz police Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker and detective Elizabeth Butler.

Checks should be made payable to the Santa Cruz Police Officers Association and mailed to 3333 Clares St., Capitola, CA 95010. Donations also can be made at any Bay Federal branch.

In addition, the Police Officers Association and Police Department have set up a "Baker/Butler Scholarship Fund" with Wells Fargo. Anyone can go to any Wells Fargo branch anywhere in the country and make a deposit to this account number #999 245 1154.

City finance chief Marcus Pimental said the city also will accept donations mailed to 809 Center St., Room 101, Santa Cruz CA 95060 to the attention of the Baker/Butler Scholarship Fund.

'We will also take credit card donations over the phone during normal business hours (831-420-5070) with no cost to donors,' Pimental said. 'All funds received by Wells Fargo or to the City's Finance Department address will be held in a special trust to be distributed to the detectives' families.'



Source: (c)2013 Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.) Distributed by MCT Information Services


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