2 police officers shot dead in California

February 27, 2013 - 4:29 AM
Santa Cruz Shooting

A California Highway Patrol officer carries his rifle near the shooting scene in Santa Cruz, Calif., where two Santa Cruz Police detectives were shot and killed Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. The shooting in the community about 60 miles south of San Francisco took place as police were investigating a report of a sexual assault, Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak said. A suspect was shot while police were in pursuit of the shooter, the sheriff said. Authorities said that person also died. (AP Photos/Santa Cruz Sentinel, Dan Coyro)

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) — Two police detectives were shot and killed while investigating a sexual assault complaint, and a suspect was also fatally shot after a brief chase, authorities said.

The veteran officers, one male and one female, were shot around 3:30 p.m. as they went to a suspect's home to follow up on the case. Their deaths were confirmed by Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak.

A suspect was shot and killed a short time later while authorities were pursuing the gunman, the sheriff's office said.

After the officers were shot, nearby residents received an automatic police call warning them to stay locked inside. About half an hour later, more than a dozen semi-automatic shots echoed down the streets in a brief barrage of gunfire that killed the suspect.

Police Chief Kevin Vogel said Sgt. Loren Butch Baker, a 28-year veteran, and Detective Elizabeth Butler, a 10-year veteran, were shot and killed.

"There aren't words to describe this horrific tragedy," he said. "This is the darkest day in the history of the Santa Cruz police department."

The suspect who was killed in the shooting was identified as 35-year-old Jeremy Goulet, who was arrested Friday after a co-worker at a Santa Cruz coffee shop alleged he went to her house and made inappropriate sexual advances. The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported that he was fired the next day.

To investigate the complaint, the detectives went to the house where Goulet was living and an altercation ensued, leading to the officers being fired upon, authorities said.

The detectives called for backup and neighbors also summoned police. Responding officers located Goulet a short time later. The sheriff's office said he was killed in the gunfire that followed.

After the shootings, police went door-to-door in the neighborhood, searching homes, garages, even closets to determine whether there might be additional suspects.

Police, sheriff's deputies and FBI agents filled intersections, some with guns drawn, in what is ordinarily a quiet, residential neighborhood in the community about 60 miles south of San Francisco.

A store clerk a few buildings away from the shooting said the barrage of gunfire was "terrifying."

"We ducked. We have big desks so under the desks we went," said the clerk, who spoke on condition of anonymity and asked that her store not be identified because she feared for her safety.

Two schools were locked down during the shooting. The students were later evacuated by bus to the County Government Center about half a mile away.

As darkness fell, helicopters and light aircraft patrolled above the neighborhood, which is about a mile from downtown Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The campus of University of California, Santa Cruz, is about five miles away.

The city's mayor, Hilary Bryant, said in a statement that the city was shocked over the shootings.

"Tonight we are heartbroken at the loss of two of our finest police officers who were killed in the line of duty, protecting the community we love," the statement said. "This is an exceptionally shocking and sad day for Santa Cruz and our Police Department."

Goulet worked as a barista at a coffee shop in the Santa Cruz harbor. He was convicted in Portland, Ore., in May 2008 of peeping at a 22-year-old woman who was showering in her condominium and of carrying concealed weapon, according to a Portland newspaper, The Oregonian. He was put on probation but, after a dispute with his probation officer, was sentenced to two years in jail.

The violence comes amid a recent spate of assaults in the city, which community leaders had planned to address in a downtown rally scheduled for Tuesday. That, along with a city council meeting, was canceled after teary-eyed city leaders learned of the deaths.

Those shootings include the killing of a 32-year-old martial arts instructor who was shot outside a popular downtown bar and restaurant; the robbery of a UC Santa Cruz student who was shot in the head; a 21-year-old woman who was raped and beaten on the UC Santa Cruz campus; and a couple who fought off two men during a home invasion.

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Associated Press writer John S. Marshall in San Francisco contributed to this report.