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A man is being held on $250,000 bail after his arrest Friday on suspicion of stealing a large bouquet of flowers from a memorial for two Santa Cruz police officers killed in the line of duty on Tuesday, authorities said. Kenneth Maffei, 53, is in custody at the Santa Cruz County Jail on suspicion of vandalizing a law enforcement memorial — a felony — and public intoxication, Santa Cruz County sheriff’s spokeswoman April Skalland said.
Maffei’s arrest by Santa Cruz police on Friday occurred on the first day since officers resumed patrol duties after the department gave them last Wednesday and Thursday off in light of the deaths, police said. A female Santa Cruz resident told police Friday that she saw a man take a large bouquet from a makeshift memorial for the officers, Sgt. Loran “Butch” Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler.
The memorial, created by local residents, was at the corner of Doyle Street and North Branciforte Avenue near where the two officers were gunned down. According to the witness, the man took the bouquet and then entered a taxi headed toward River Street, police said. Officers responded to the call, located the taxi traveling north on River Street and stopped the car near Potrero Street.
The passenger inside had a large bouquet and claimed to have purchased it but could not come up with a receipt or a story about how he bought it, police said. The witness arrived and identified the suspect as the man she had seen pick up the flowers, police said. The flowers were returned to the memorial, police said. A memorial service for Baker and Butler is scheduled for noon this Thursday at the HP Pavilion in San Jose.
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