While the city of Santa Cruz mourns the deaths of two police officers killed in a shooting on Tuesday, investigators are digging into the background of the shooter, a barista and Burning Man aficionado with a history of peeping tom arrests. Detective Sgt. Loran “Butch” Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler were gunned down at 822 N. Branciforte Ave. on Tuesday afternoon while following up on a report of a misdemeanor sexual assault. They had gone to the home of 35-year-old Jeremy Peter Goulet, the suspect in the assault, to speak with him about the incident.
Dressed in plain clothes, they arrived at his home at about 3:30 p.m. Exactly what transpired next remains unclear, but Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak said Baker and Butler were gunned down in Goulet’s doorway. Goulet then disarmed the two officers and fled in Baker’s detective car, which he later parked on Doyle Street, according to the sheriff’s office. As law enforcement officers swarmed the neighborhood and emergency responders were tending to Baker and Butler, Goulet headed back toward his home and was spotted on the opposite side of a fence that separates 140 Doyle St. from 822 N. Branciforte Ave., sheriff’s officials said. He ran toward Doyle Street, where he encountered teams of officers who were searching for him, Wowak said.
He began firing at them and they fired back, the sheriff said. Wowak said there were pedestrians in the area at the time, as well as a Santa Cruz Fire Department crew and their truck. He said as the bullets began to fly, a fire department crew member pushed a pedestrian to the ground to protect her from the gunfire. Multiple bullets fired by Goulet hit the fire truck, he said. Goulet was eventually killed by officers’ bullets, and was later found to have three handguns on him, Wowak said. He was wearing body armor, which Wowak described as a “standard vest” he said may have been taken from Baker’s car. “There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that the officers that engaged Goulet stopped an imminent threat to the community,” the sheriff said. Aidan Hosler, 46, may have been one of the last people to see Sgt. Baker alive. He said he crossed paths with Baker at about 3:20 p.m. Tuesday after picking up his 14-year-old son from the Alternative Family Education school at 185 Benito Ave., a back alley located near North Branciforte Avenue and Doyle Street.
He was pulling out of the school’s parking lot and attempting to enter a narrow one-way driveway leading to North Branciforte Avenue when he was blocked by Baker, who was entering the driveway coming the wrong way, he said. Baker’s car was unmarked and Hosler said he did not initially realize Baker was a police officer. He said he flashed his lights at the other car. Baker got out of his car and Hosler saw he was wearing dark pants and a white shirt and was carrying a large gun in a holster, Hosler said. “I said to myself, ‘That’s a detective,'” Hosler said. Baker approached Hosler’s car and spoke with him, Hosler said. “He and I had a short, very polite conversation,” Hosler said. “He apologized for inconveniencing me, and I said ‘no worries.'” Hosler said he backed up, turned around and exited the parking lot through another driveway leading to Benito Avenue. “He seemed like a really nice guy,” Hosler said. He said he didn’t see anyone else in Baker’s car.
Hosler, who said he lives about 2 miles away on the west side of town, went home. About half an hour later, he said, he heard helicopters and wondered what was going on. Investigators have spoken with people who knew Goulet and learned that he was “despondent, distraught, upset about recent personal events,” and had been described as angry and destructive in nature, according to Wowak. “We now know that he had intentions of harming people,” Wowak said. Wowak said he had been arrested in the past week for misdemeanor public intoxication.
A Santa Cruz police arrest log states that Goulet was arrested in the 800 block of North Branciforte Avenue around 2:40 a.m. Friday on suspicion of disorderly conduct and being under the influence of alcohol. It appears he may have been suicidal or homicidal, but the detectives didn’t know that at the time they went to his home. “There should be no suspicion or second-guessing as to how they wound up where they were,” Wowak said. “They were just doing their job.” There was no indication of danger, and the detectives simply wanted to speak with him about the alleged assault, which had been reported sometime the past week, he said. “Their intent was to contact him and get further information about what he had been accused of,” Wowak said. Goulet had a criminal record in California and Oregon, according to Don Rees, chief deputy district attorney of Multnomah County in Portland, Ore.
In May 2008, a jury convicted Goulet of unlawful possession of a firearm and invasion of personal privacy, which stemmed from a 2007 incident at a Portland apartment complex, Rees said. In that incident, a woman told authorities she was taking a shower with a bathroom window open when she heard a noise, Rees said. She went outside with her boyfriend and found a man outside the bathroom window and discovered the screen had been removed and the blinds propped open with small twig, the prosecutor said. Sometime later, the woman and her boyfriend saw the same man, later identified as Goulet, walking around the complex, Rees said. The boyfriend confronted Goulet and punched him, and a struggle ensued in which the boyfriend saw that Goulet was carrying a handgun.
In the fight the boyfriend bit off a portion of Goulet’s ear, and shots were fired, Rees said. After the fight, authorities were unable to locate a gun but did find casings and an empty gun holster, he said. Goulet was acquitted of attempted murder and an attempted burglary charge, Rees said. He was sentenced to 36 months’ probation, which was later revoked because of a violation and he was sent to county jail for one year. According to Rees, records show Goulet had a 2000 conviction for peeping into an inhabited building in San Diego County. He had had another peeping tom arrest in the San Diego area in 1999, Rees said. Goulet graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in criminal justice in 2000, university spokesman Greg Block said. Online records show Goulet as having lived in Berkeley, in the 2700 block of Benvenue Avenue.
His Facebook page shows he joined the social network on Nov. 3, around when he moved to Santa Cruz. On his first post on Nov. 3, he wrote, “I am new to Santa Cruz at the moment. Loving the beach. Wondering why I haven’t been here all along. Looking forward to my new life, of course remembering my old.” He posted on Feb. 13 that he had bought a ticket to the Burning Man festival held annually in the Nevada desert in late summer. Previous photos on his page show him at the San Francisco Decompression event on Nov. 16, a local post-Burning Man party held every fall. A relative of Goulet in New Mexico who answered the phone this afternoon said her family did not want to comment. Staff at a Santa Cruz harborside cafe called the Kind Grind, where Goulet worked, also declined to comment today. Authorities have not confirmed news reports that he was fired over the weekend because of an incident involving a co-worker.
Jennifer Ashby, 36, of Santa Cruz, the owner of Ashby Confections, said she worked alongside Goulet in a shared kitchen in Aptos and was selected as his Secret Santa during the holidays. Ashby said the shared kitchen, located at 7486 Soquel Drive, is owned by Heather Liner, and that baked goods are made there for Heather’s Patisserie at the same location and her Santa Cruz cafe, Kind Grind, where Ashby said Goulet also worked as a barista. Ashby has been making chocolates and other treats in her rented kitchen space since 2008. Goulet started working there part-time in November, she said. She said she asked him why he moved to the area and he said he wanted to be near the beach. Although Ashby said she never had any issues with Goulet, some of her coworkers said they were “creeped out” by him. “I never got weirded out by him,” she said. However, some of her female coworkers said “he would hug a little too tight … I never experienced that.”
In the morning he would say hello and offer to make her coffee, she said. “The conversations were never very deep,” she said. When she pulled his name in the Secret Santa holiday gift exchange, she gave him some knick-knacks, which he thanked her for, Ashby said. Last month, one of her coworkers helped Goulet find a new apartment on North Branciforte Avenue. Ashby said she had last seen Goulet at the kitchen a couple of weeks ago. A large memorial for the fallen officers has been set up outside the Police Department, with flowers, candles, cards and an American flag. There were also several bouquets of flowers placed around the mailbox outside Goulet’s home on North Branciforte Avenue and at the corner of Branciforte and Doyle Street. This afternoon, dozens of bullet holes could be seen on several garage doors at 140 Doyle St. and on a nearby cinderblock wall. Someone had placed an “I love Santa Cruz Police” bumper sticker on the wall.
Wowak asked anyone with information on Goulet or Tuesday’s shootings to contact the sheriff’s office, which is investigating the case. Members of the public can submit information via email through a link that will be set up on the sheriff’s website at www.scsheriff.com or by phone during normal business hours at (831) 454-2311.