Two Santa Cruz, Calif., police officers were killed Tuesday while trying to question a man accused of sexually harassing a co-worker in what the chief of police called “the darkest day” in the department’s history.
Santa Cruz Police Sgt. Loran “Butch” Baker and Det. Elizabeth Butler went to the home of barista Jeremy Goulet to investigate the allegations, where they were shot and killed around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to KGO.
"An altercation ensued between the detectives and Goulet, and both detectives were killed at scene," Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak told the San Francisco ABC affiliate.
Officers responded on the scene about 10 minutes after the incident. Goulet was killed after a brief pursuit, according to KGO.
Goulet had been arrested Friday on allegations he made inappropriate sexual advances to a co-worker at her home, and was fired from his job as a barista on Saturday, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported.
Baker, a 28-year veteran of the Santa Cruz Police Department, was nearing retirement, the station reported. Butler had been on the force for 10 years.
"There aren't words to describe this horrific tragedy," Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel told the Associated Press. "This is the darkest day in the history of the Santa Cruz police department."
The killings of the Santa Cruz officers mark the first time the department lost officers in the line of duty.
Baker passed down his love of policing to his son, Adam Baker, who is a community service officer at Harbor High School.
"I've grown up around this place," Adam Baker said in a 2010 interview with the Santa Cruz paper. "I've always wanted to work for Santa Cruz."
Vogel was Baker’s partner when his son was born, the paper noted.
Deborah Elston, co-founder of the advocacy group Santa Cruz Neighbors, told the Sentinel that she had dealt professionally with both Bakers.
She said Butch Baker was “very personable, thoughtful and very approachable.
"It's such an incredible loss of his expertise and just a salt-of-the-earth guy," Elson said.
Butler was a Los Angeles native who moved to Santa Cruz in 1992 for college and never left the city. She became a Santa Cruz officer 10 years ago and served as a patrol officer and a hostage negotiator, among other tasks, the Sentinel reported.
"I enjoy living and working in Santa Cruz because one can enjoy the ocean, the mountains, interesting people and a healthy lifestyle all in one spot," she wrote on the Santa Cruz Police Department blog.
Butler earlier told the Sentinel that she had a hands-on approach to her job.
"You have to be a people person down here,” she said. "I really do know people's names. You know their names, you know the ones who have problems with narcotics."