A memorial is under way at the HP Pavilion in San Jose this afternoon for two Santa Cruz police officers killed in the line of duty last week. Santa Cruz police Sgt. Loran “Butch” Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler were gunned down the afternoon of Feb. 26 while following up on a report of a misdemeanor sexual assault. The shooter, 35-year-old Jeremy Goulet, was later killed in a gun battle with authorities. Gov. Jerry Brown is among those attending today’s memorial, but he is not scheduled to speak. The speakers include former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel and Santa Cruz Mayor Hilary Bryant. Singer James Durbin, of American Idol fame, will perform the song “Arms Wide Open” at the request of the victims’ family members, according to Santa Cruz police.
The memorial is being held at the 20,000-seat HP Pavilion because there were no venues in Santa Cruz big enough to accommodate the expected crowds. However, a live broadcast of the memorial will be shown at the Kaiser Permanente Arena at 140 Front St. in Santa Cruz. This morning, last-minute preparations were under way inside the HP Pavilion. The two officers’ flag-draped coffins were on the floor of the venue, flanked by two Santa Cruz police patrol cars. Podiums and floral wreaths had been set up on a stage nearby, and a bagpipe ensemble was warming up. Overhead, a slide show flashed photos of the officers at various stages of their lives on a four-sided screen.
There were photos of Butler as a girl and as a teenager, then pregnant and with a newborn. She left behind her partner Peter Wu and her children, 5-year-old Joaquin and 2-year-old Stellan. A few minutes later, while the song “Endless Love” played, a photo of what appeared to be Baker and his wife at their high school prom was shown, along with photos of Baker with his children at the beach, at birthday parties, and at a Giants game at AT&T Park. The program states that Baker and his wife were “childhood sweethearts and lifelong soulmates.” “Butch and his wife Kelly were 10 and 11 years old when their love story began,” the program read. Law enforcement officers from all over the country — and even from outside the U.S. — were expected to attend the memorial, Santa Cruz Deputy Chief Steve Clark said. Those arriving at the HP Pavilion today included representatives from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, California State Parks rangers and police from Pismo Beach, Arroyo Grande, Morro Bay, Garden Grove and the California State University system.
A procession of vehicles heading to the memorial departed from Santa Cruz shortly before 9 a.m., starting on Third Street near the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. It traveled through the city before heading north on state Highway 17, then taking highways 85 and 87 toward the HP Pavilion, where two fire trucks from San Jose and Santa Cruz had formed an arch with their ladders from which a large American flag was hanging. The procession was several miles long, stretching from Summit Road to Vine Hill Road as it traveled north over Highway 17, California Highway Patrol Officer Tom Bowen said. It included police, firefighters, CHP officers and paramedics, as well as family members of Baker and Butler. Capitola resident Lyn Henry was one of the locals who headed to the boardwalk this morning to see the procession off.
“I came today to show my complete support and admiration of the officers,” Henry said. “They take care of us and protect us every day.” Praf Patel, who has lived in Santa Cruz for 20 years, said he believes the tragedy will bring community members together. “This is very sad for the city of Santa Cruz. You don’t expect something like this to happen,” Patel said. “Santa Cruz was already a tight-knit community and this makes us closer than before.
Copyright © 2013 by Bay City News, Inc. — Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.