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Cop Deaths Mark 'Darkest Day' in Santa Cruz Police History

Fallen officers' identities revealed Tuesday night.

Santa Cruz Police Department and much of the community mourned the loss of two veteran Santa Cruz police detectives Tuesday.

Elizabeth Butler and Butch Baker were fatally shot outside a North Branciforte Avenue home while conducting follow-up on a case. The assailant, Jeremy Goulet, 35, was fatally shot later Tuesday by sheriff's deputies.

"It is with deep, deep sadness that I stand before you to talk about the deaths of two of my officers today," Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel said. "... This is the darkest day in the history of the Santa Cruz Police Department."

Butler, a detective, was a 10-year veteran of the police force and leaves her partner Peter and two young sons.

Baker, a detective sergeant, was a 28-year veteran of the force. He leaves his wife, two daughters and a son. His son also works for the department as a community service officer. 

"He was a longtime friend of mine, a mentor," Vogel said.

The officers' names were released during a press conference Tuesday night in the shopping center kitty corner from Branciforte Small Schools in Santa Cruz.

Mayor Hilary Bryant called Baker and Butler "two of our most beloved officers" as she spoke about the tragic day. 

"It has rocked our community to its absolute foundation," Byrant said. She thanked law enforcement officers for what they do to keep the community safe and asked that residents keep the Santa Cruz Police Department in their prayers.

Baker and Butler are the first officers killed in the line of duty in the city of Santa Cruz.

"There's nothing even comparable to it in this city's history," said Santa Cruz County Supervisor Zach Friend, the former Santa Cruz Police Department spokesperson.

Sheriff Phil Wowak shared more details of the deadly afternoon.

He said the officers were in plain clothes when they went to Goulet's home on Branciforte Avenue just before 3:30 p.m. to conduct follow-up on an investigation. Wowak declined to discuss the nature of the case.

Baker and Butler were shot in front of the house. Wowak said they did not make it inside. He declined to say if they were wearing bulletproof vests or what weapons were fired.

Goulet fled. Santa Cruz police officers and sheriff's deputies who responded to reports of gunfire divided duties between aiding the fallen officers and setting up a perimeter in the neighborhood, according to Wowak.

As deputies assumed command of the investigation and started a house-to-house search, Santa Cruz officers refused to leave their posts. Wowak credited their dedication to helping locate Goulet.

"I believe that's what kept the suspect inside this neighborhood," Wowak said.

Deputies encountered Goulet on Doyle Street.

"He engaged them in gunfire," Wowak said.

Goulet was pronounced dead at the scene.

Wowak did not identify what type of weapons Goulet was armed with, saying only that he had "firearms." He also declined to comment on Goulet's criminal history.

Three schools were put on lockdown during the shootings and subsequent search. Officers from Capitola, Watsonville and Scotts Valley police departments, the California Highway Patrol and State Parks assisted Santa Cruz police and the Sheriff's Office. Wowak said law enforcement agencies from San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito and Monterey counties also offered aid.

"Many of them just drove here and came on scene to assist us," he said.

Investigators continue to sort out what led to the tragic shooting. They are following the Critical Incident Protocol to find out what happened, identify any possible policy changes and determine if any criminal charges should be filed. That probe will be led by the District Attorney's Office.

Sheriff's deputies will conduct a concurrent criminal investigation, Wowak said.

"It will take days, if not weeks, for us to completely put together what happened," he said.

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