The families of two members of Santa Cruz Police Department killed in the line of duty in February released letters to the community today, expressing gratitude and appreciation for the support from complete strangers to well-known politicians. Santa Cruz police Sgt. Loran “Butch” Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler were shot and killed the afternoon of Feb. 26 while following up on a report of misdemeanor sexual assault.
The gunman, 35-year-old Jeremy Goulet, was later killed in a gun battle with authorities. More than a month since their deaths and a large memorial service held at HP Pavilion in San Jose on March 7, the Police Department today shared letters from the slain officers’ families. Butler’s partner Peter Wu, her mother, Louise Butler, and her sister, Alexis Butler, wrote about the sadness of losing Elizabeth Butler. “We miss her terribly,” the family wrote. However, they said despite the unbearable loss, the community has stepped up. “Yet almost every day of the past month has also included moments of awe and amazement at the love and honor paid to Elizabeth’s memory,” the family wrote.
The family thanked Butler’s two young sons, Stellan, 2, and Joaquin, 5, for reminding the family to stay healthy during the past month of mourning and into the future. The family also thanked other relatives, members of the Police Department including Chief Kevin Vogel, and the “hundreds of people who have sent us cards, scholarship funds, and gifts.” “We have glimpsed in the outpouring of support from the people of Santa Cruz and surrounding cities that goodness will prevail and small acts of love will redeem our aching hearts,” the letter read. The family reflected on the massive memorial that started with a procession through Santa Cruz before heading along state Highway 17 to the ceremony in San Jose. “As we traveled through the streets of Santa Cruz, the sight of hundreds of citizens with their hands over their hearts touched us deeply,” the letter stated.
Speakers at the memorial service included former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Vogel and Santa Cruz Mayor Hilary Bryant. The letter ended on a hopeful note. “Our hope is to do more than survive. We want to raise two young boys to be honorable citizens like their mother,” the letter read. Baker’s wife, Kelly, wrote a letter detailing her heartbreak after losing her husband just as she was planning upcoming retirement trips. “Every police spouse’s worst nightmare became my reality when I was told of my husband’s line-of-duty death,” she wrote.
In the heartfelt letter she wrote about shattered dreams and plans for the future. “I mourn my husband, not for the police officer he was, but for the loss of my true love, childhood sweetheart, and soul mate,” she wrote. The letter, written also on behalf of her grown children, Adam and Jillian, shared how Baker’s death had affected them. She said Adam, himself a member of the Santa Cruz Police Department, is still healing, and that her daughter is being cared for by her local community in Texas where she works as a trauma critical care nurse. She also noted the many ways politicians such as U.S. Rep. Sam Farr and other dignitaries have honored her husband, along with hundreds of others who have sent cards, flowers, gifts and other tokens.
“Words cannot express my gratitude to everyone who has stepped forward to give me a hug or simply say they are sorry for my loss,” the letter read. She included a long list of individuals, organizations, politicians, agencies, family and friends to thank for their support since her husband’s shooting death. A scholarship memorial fund set up for the families of the two slain officers has received many donations and reached beyond $300,000 at the end of March, according to Santa Cruz city officials. Tax-deductible donations to the memorial fund can be made at www.cityofsantacruz.com
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