SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — The Santa Cruz Police Department is mourning the loss of two exemplary investigators killed by a suspect they wanted to question about a misdemeanor sexual assault allegation, the police chief said Wednesday.
Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler were remembered as leaders, friends and invaluable resources for the small department of just 94 sworn officers.
An emotional Police Chief Kevin Vogel called Baker the department's best investigator and recalled that they had started together on the force in 1985.
Throughout his career, Baker trained many officers, including several who attained higher ranks.
"I consider Butch not only to be my co-worker, but he was my mentor, and he was my friend," Vogel said.
Baker inspired his son Adam to join the force. He now serves as a community service officer and has a mailbox next to his father's at the Police Department.
The chief also praised Butler, a 10-year veteran of the force who specialized in investigating sex assault cases. Colleagues said she viewed her job as a mix of fighting crime and public relations.
"She found her niche in the investigation of sexual assault cases, that was where her expertise lay," Vogel said.
Butler is survived by her partner and two young boys.
"From what you can see from the way I'm reacting this morning, we're having a tough time with this," the chief said.
The two detectives arrived in plain clothes on Tuesday afternoon at the home of suspect Jeremy Goulet to ask about a complaint that he had made inappropriate sexual advances toward a former coworker at a coffee shop where he had worked.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak said Goulet shot and killed Baker and Butler at the doorstep then disarmed both officers and stole Butler's vehicle.
Several law enforcement teams found Goulet on a nearby street, where the former soldier was shot and killed.