A public memorial for two Santa Cruz police officers shot to death Tuesday will be held on March 7 and the department will resume patrol duties Friday, the police chief said today The joint public memorial for Detective Sgt. Loran “Butch” Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler will take place at 11 a.m. at the Kaiser Permanente Arena, Chief Kevin Vogel said. Since thousands are expected to attend — from locals to grieving family members and law enforcement in and outside of Santa Cruz — the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium will be used to handle any overflow, Vogel said.
A third gathering place might be necessary if a larger crowd were to arrive, Vogel said. “Unfortunately we do not have one venue in our city to accommodate the number of people we’re probably going to have,” Vogel said. There will be a motorcade procession from the county fairgrounds at 2691 E. Lake Ave. in Watsonville to the arena prior to the memorial. The Kaiser arena, used by the Santa Cruz Warriors minor league basketball team, has room for up to 4,000 spectators for stage end events, according to the National Basketball Association’s website. Vogel spoke this afternoon at the second of two news conferences held today by police officials in Santa Cruz about the shootings of Baker, 51, and Butler, 38, Tuesday afternoon. Both veteran officers were killed while investigating Jeremy Peter Goulet, 35, a suspect in a misdemeanor sexual assault case, at his apartment at 822 N. Branciforte Ave., according to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office.
At a news conference this morning, Sheriff Phil Wowak said Goulet allegedly shot both officers, picked up their handguns, went to Baker’s car, put on the officer’s body armor and drove a short distance away to Doyle Street. Doyle was blocked at the time by a Santa Cruz Fire Department truck, so Goulet exited the unmarked police car, Wowak said. As he tried to flee on foot, police who responded to the scene pushed Goulet back and moments later he started firing two handguns at six officers, four of whom returned fire and killed him. Upon reaching Goulet’s body, police found he had three handguns — the officers’ guns and his gun — his passport and a ticket on a flight to New Mexico leaving later this week, Wowak said. At the afternoon conference, Wowak sought to clarify a description he made this morning about the minutes leading up to the shootings of Baker and Butler. The two officers, who were not wearing body armor, never made physical contact with Goulet prior to the shootings that took place at 3:30 p.m., Wowak said.
They arrived in the area of Goulet’s apartment shortly after 3 p.m. and began to try to find his exact address, which took about 20 minutes, Wowak said. Once they found his residence, the pair engaged in a conversation with Goulet through his closed front door that lasted less than 10 minutes, Wowak said. Suddenly, Goulet “disappeared” from the behind door while still inside the apartment and ambushed the two officers with his .45 caliber handgun, “taking them down in seconds,” Wowak said. Vogel this afternoon announced that Santa Cruz police officers would be back on patrol after a 7 a.m. briefing tomorrow after two days off to recover from the news about Baker and Butler. He thanked Santa Cruz sheriff’s deputies and local offices of the California Highway Patrol for sending patrol units to cover calls for service after Vogel gave Santa Cruz police Wednesday and Thursday off. “Starting tomorrow, you will see our black and white Santa Cruz police cruisers out,” Vogel said.
The department provided police with grief counseling and time away from duty to reflect about the tragedy, he said. “Understand I had to ensure the well being of my officers and I had to make sure that their mental health is in such a condition that they are able to get back out in the street to perform their jobs safely,” he said. “It’s been a tough two days here at the Police Department,” Vogel said. “It’s going to be a rough week ahead of us.” The larger community is healing as well, and held a vigil Wednesday night at the Louden Nelson Community Center, drawing county and city officials, public safety officials, residents, students and advocacy groups, such as the Santa Cruz-based Resource Center for Nonviolence. Center staff member Peter Klotz-Chamberlin said the vigil was part of the collective grieving process.
The community is shocked by the local violence that killed two police officers. “We are part of the community that is disturbed,” he said. “We want to be part of the conversation going forward in how the community responds.” In a ironic timing arrangement, the Resource Center for Nonviolence was part of a community rally against gun violence that was held Tuesday afternoon as the shooting was unfolding. “We didn’t know during that event that anyone had been killed,” Klotz-Chamberlin said about the event, held about a mile away from the shooting at the Santa Cruz Town Clock.
One of the speakers at the rally was Santa Cruz County Office of Education Superintendent Michael Watkins, who said it was important for the speakers to continue with their message about making streets safe. Santa Cruz County Supervisor John Leopold also spoke at the demonstration. Klotz-Chamberlin said, “Compassion and sense of community are important part of the conversation, not just fear,” when discussing the role of guns and related violence in American society.
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