General Crime

Shooting Deaths Of Two Santa Cruz Police Officers Loran Baker And Elizabeth Butler Being Investigated

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An investigation into the double fatal shooting of two Santa Cruz police officers has concluded that four law enforcement personnel were justified to shoot and kill a gunman who “ambushed” the officers in February, the Santa Cruz County sheriff said this morning. At a morning news conference in front of the Santa Cruz Police Department, Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak, Santa Cruz police Chief Kevin Vogel and Santa Cruz County District Attorney Bob Lee shared new details about what happened on Feb. 26 when Detective Sgt. Loran “Butch” Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler were killed responding to a case. The pair was investigating a misdemeanor sex case at the home of Jeremy Goulet, 35, located at 822 N. Branciforte Ave., Wowak said. Wowak said according to an ongoing investigation, the two arrived at the home around 3 p.m. after the officers were informed about a sex crime victim that had received a confrontational phone call from Goulet earlier in the day.

The two were able to get Goulet to talk to them at a side door around 3:15 p.m., which was when Goulet resisted their request to come outside. The officers then told Goulet he was going to be placed under arrest, and around 3:25 p.m. he agreed to meet the officers on the other side of the apartment at the front door. When Baker and Butler arrived on the other side of the building, Goulet emerged with a .45 caliber automatic pistol, which he fired five times at the officers. Wowak called the surprise attack an “ambush” and said that the two officers were not anticipating Goulet to be armed. His first two rounds were fired at Butler. One missed her while the second took her to the ground where she died. The next three were directed at Baker. The first missed him, and the other two hit him. Goulet then fired two more bullets into Baker, who was already down, took his service weapon, and fired one more round at him after he had already died. He also shot Butler one last time, firing his ninth round, but this time he used Baker’s gun. “It is our belief that they were disabled and mortally wounded within the first three seconds of Goulet withdrawing his weapon,” Wowak said.

Goulet took Butler’s service weapon as well, got into Baker’s unmarked police car and drove onto Doyle Street where he was blocked by a fire truck. He put on Baker’s body armor underneath his sweatshirt and exited the car and tried to head back to Branciforte Avenue through a back fence but he was pushed back by officers. He made his way on foot down a driveway in front of a garage door on Doyle Street where he encountered six officers. Goulet started firing his gun and Baker’s gun, hitting none of the officers, but he did strike a Santa Cruz Fire Department truck, and other parked vehicles. Wowak said he shot 15 rounds at random before four of the six officers then opened fire and killed Goulet. In total, the four officers fired 54 rounds at Goulet, according to Wowak. Three of those officers were members of the Santa Cruz Police Department, including Sgt. Jose Garcia, 35, an 11-and-a-half-year veteran; Officer Barnaby Clark, 40, a seven-year veteran; and Officer Tim Shields, 40, a four-year veteran, police Chief Kevin Vogel said. The fourth was Sgt. Stefan Fish, a 16-year veteran with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, Wowak said.

Fish was off-duty on the day of the incident, but when he heard about the shooting he responded to the scene, Wowak said. “The heroic action of these three officers, and Fish, cannot be overstated,” Vogel said. “I truly believe they saved our community from much more mayhem that could have been created that day.” Following the shooting, all four were placed on paid leave, as is standard procedure, Wowak said. District Attorney Lee said an investigation by his office has determined that the officers’ shooting of Goulet was “reasonable, prudent and heroic.” Santa Cruz Police Department is conducting their own investigation, which Vogel said is comprised of three parts. The first part is what transpired up until the double murder of the two officers and then the events between the officers’ death and Goulet’s takedown by deadly force. Thirdly, a more general look at the entire incident will see if anything could have been done differently and will look into how the incidents could have been prevented, Vogel said. He said thus far police personnel involved appear to have been just in their actions but that an internal investigation is ongoing. “We will be forever changed by the events of Feb. 26,” Vogel said. “We miss Elizabeth and Butch everyday.”

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