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After officers deemed it safe, students being held on lockdown in the Midtown Montessori School on North Branciforte were escorted safely out of the building and reunited with their families at the Santa Cruz County Building (Matthew Hintz/Sentinel).

SANTA CRUZ -- Two Santa Cruz police officers were shot and killed Tuesday by a suspect who died in a nearby shootout with officers a half-hour later.

The deaths of detective Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker, a 28-year veteran, and detective Elizabeth Butler, a 10-year veteran, are the first in the line of duty in the city's history. Authorities said they were found deceased outside suspect Jeremy Goulet's home in the 800 block of Branciforte shortly after the 3:30 p.m. shooting.

"This is the darkest day in the history of the Santa Cruz Police Department," Police Chief Kevin Vogel said, adding earlier, "We lost two exceptionally fine officers today."

Vogel, who was once partnered with Baker, said "Our department is in mourning; this is a horrific day."

Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak said Goulet, 35, was shot and killed on Doyle Street after firing at officers who were conducting a search of the area. His agency will assume control of the investigation as outlined in the Police Department's critical incident protocol, with the cooperation of the Santa Cruz County District Attorney's Office.

Authorities said they do not believe there are any other suspects but as a precaution deputies searched houses and placed three schools on lockdown.

"Tonight we are heartbroken at the loss of two of our finest police officers who were killed in the line of duty, protecting the community we love," Mayor Hilary Bryant said. "This is an exceptionally shocking and sad day for Santa Cruz and our Police Department. We offer our deepest sympathy and prayers to the families and the fellow officers of our fallen heroes."

The shooting comes after several weeks of unrest in Santa Cruz, including a downtown murder, the Westside shooting of a UC Santa Cruz student and the rape of another woman on campus. There also was a violent robbery at a Westside grocery store and a home-invasion robbery on the Eastside.

Santa Cruz Neighbors co-founder Deborah Elston, who knows a number of officers personally, said although the last two weeks make her feel "like my freedom and safety are being challenged, I am also saying now is the time to be stronger. Sadly I hope this will wake people up to the truth about some underlying things going on in this community."

WHAT HAPPENED

The incident started when Santa Cruz police were conducting an investigation, possibly a domestic violence situation stemming from Goulet's Friday arrest, at a house on the 800 block of North Branciforte Avenue, just up the street from where the shooting happened. He was arrested there for drunken disorderly but bailed out.

Wowak said they believe Goulet shot at the officers, who were found dead outside the house.

"We don't know exactly what transpired in that investigation to start but we do know in the contact with the suspect, Jeremy Goulet, 35, a resident at the scene, both detectives were killed."

Wowak said the call for assistance went out in numerous ways "both from the officers and neighbors who heard gunfire."

Three killed
in Santa Cruz

Goulet was not on scene when officers arrived. Although officers attempted life-saving efforts on their colleagues, they were unsuccessful, Wowak said.

Police then set up a perimeter and a multi-agency team worked to secure the North Branciforte area, including three schools, and to find Goulet.

During the "active shooter scenario" police and deputies encountered Goulet on nearby Doyle Street about 30 minutes later and a barrage of gunfire followed.

"Gunshots ensued between Goulet and the officers. Goulet was killed at the scene," Wowak said.

Megan Kausch, a Capitola resident, said she was sitting outside Whole Foods located near Branciforte Avenue and Doyle Street reorganizing her purse when police swooped in. She heard a hail of gunfire and ducked down as she looked up saw gun smoke.

"I've never been so close to a real shooting. It was so loud, so many bullets back and forth."

Law enforcement officials shut down Branciforte Avenue and numerous nearby streets for hours Tuesday with SWAT vehicles and helicopters hovering over the scene. A public school and private preschool on Branciforte Avenue were on lockdown for several hours, but students were later reunited with parents at the County Government Center.

The FBI and Department of Justice joined the investigation just after 4 p.m. as well as officials from the Sheriff's Office, Capitola, Watsonville and Scotts Valley police departments and the California Highway Patrol.

Police Chief Vogel was attending a City Council meeting when he rushed out upon hearing the news about the shooting.

City Manager Martín Bernal pulled Mayor Bryant out of the meeting to discuss the shooting, and several people at the council began crying as word spread of the possibility officers had been hit. The meeting was cancelled shortly thereafter.

UC Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal, a faculty member for nearly 40 years, issued a statement Tuesday, saying campus police have offered assistance to city police.

"I know I speak for everyone at UCSC when I say that our hearts go out to the families and friends of the fallen officers. We also offer our deepest sympathies to Mayor Bryant, Police Chief Vogel and his entire force."

THE SUSPECT

Moments after the first shooting police issued Project ROPE for a white four-door Honda or Toyota Corolla seen leaving the scene of the Branciforte shooting. They were looking for a white male with long, blondish brown hair in his 20s with a backpack, gray baseball cap and white T-shirt.

Police put out a be on the lookout for Jeremy Peter Goulet, 35, described as 155 pounds, 5 feet 8 inches tall, blond hair, green eyes. It was not immediately confirmed by police what relation he had to the case. Goulet reportedly had three weapons registered to him including a .40-caliber semi-automatic Sig Sauer and a Baretta.

Goulet, a former barista at a harbor coffee shop, apparently broke into a co-workers house on Friday and made inappropriate sexual advances toward her, according to a coffee shop employee, who asked to remain anonymous. He was fired from the coffee shop on Saturday.

The female barista filed a police report and talked to police as late as Tuesday afternoon. That may have been what sent investigators back to Goulet's residence Tuesday.

Santa Cruz police closed the coffee shop shortly after the first shooting telling employees they were concerned because of Goulet's involvement in the Friday incident. Goulet has a criminal history, including a 2008 conviction on sex and gun charges in Portland, Ore., according to an article on the Oregonian's website. He was found guilty of peeping at a 22-year-old woman as she showered in her condo and of carrying a concealed weapon, which went off after Goulet was confronted outside by the victim's boyfriend, according to the article. He was put on probation in that case, but decided to serve a two-year jail sentence because he couldn't get along with his probation officer, the article said.

WITNESS ACCOUNTS

Santa Cruz resident Charlie May was inside his home on North Branciforte when the incident erupted, with dozens of police cars descending on the area.

"I actually went out to take a look and they shooed us all back," May said.

May heard the second burst of gunfire -- at least 15 shots, he estimated -- which occurred on Doyle Street near Whole Foods, about a half-block from his home.

"I imagine they got him. They've still got the whole block surrounded," May said.

At least one other person was injured during the first shooting. About 10 minutes after the first shooting, police were called to Stanford Avenue for a victim who said he was grazed by a bullet but was declining medical attention.

Melissa Stevens waited at a police cordon on Doyle Street to find out if her son, a student at Midtown Montessori on Branciforte Avenue, would be released to her. She said the owner of the school had called her to say the students were all safe inside the school.

"I'm sort of freaked out," Stevens said, who at that time thought there may still be an active shooter considering the heavy police presence. "Everyone is safe, but as long as there is a shooter on the loose, I don't know what I should do."

Paul Rolen, who lives on the 800 block of Branciforte, said police told him there was possibly a shooting suspect still barricaded in a building and he could not go to his house. He had just gotten off a bus from Cabrillo.

"It sucks and it's scarey," Rolen said.

IMPACT ON SCHOOLS

Santa Cruz City Schools Superintendent Gary Bloom said about 50 students and adults were present at the Branciforte Small Schools campus, a home for alternative programs, when the shooting took place. Gunshots were audible inside the building, he said.

The school was on a "code-red lockdown," meaning students were down on the ground for their safety. But Bloom said a police officer was present in the school during the lockdown.

About 100 people were on lockdown at nearby Branciforte Middle School. Bloom said the schools will be open Wednesday.

"We will be working with staff to talk kids through the trauma of this event," he said.

Earlier, several parents stood on Water Street near the crime scene, waiting for any information on when and where they could pick up their children.

"I heard 40-50 very fast gunshots by the school where our daughters are," said Rebecca Green as she stood with fellow parent Renata Russo. "I know nothing about guns -- it only sounded like that many shots to me."

Green's 5-year-old daughter is a student at Midtown Montessori, a preschool on Branciforte Avenue.

"There's been no information," she said.

Some parents, like Russo, said they were frustrated with the ongoing crime in the city.

"What is the city doing about crime in this town?" Russo asked. "This is the last thing I'd ever thought would happen."

Mary Boles of Santa Cruz was still standing outside Branciforte and Water at 9 p.m., where she had been waiting since 3:30 p.m. to ensure her 23-year-old daughter was safe in a house nearby.

"I've been here the whole time, scared," Boles said. "I'm scared, she's scared and no one seems to care."

She said she was frustrated at the lack of information she'd been given.

"No one is coming to say anything to us," she said, adding that she wished a city official would have come to address her and other worried parents who gathered outside the yellow crime tape.

Authorities blocked off several streets, including North Branciforte Avenue from Water Street to Soquel Avenue, Soquel Avenue to Cayuga Street to Pennsylvania Avenue and Doyle Street.

Several businesses in the area also closed, including Whole Foods, which had police snipers on the rooftop at one point.

Sheriff Wowak apologized for the disruption to the three schools, residents and businesses, but said it had to be done to protect residents.

"The house-to-house search started immediately and likely kept him (Goulet) in the area," Wowak said. "It was our responsibility to keep the community secure and to make sure there were no other threats.

"We know it was an inconvenience and we thank people for their understanding."

Wowak said he expected the investigation to take days if not weeks to complete.

And he thanked the agencies who assisted, including all of the county law enforcement as well as those from San Mateo, San Benito, Santa Clara and Monterey counties.

"Many just drove here to offer assistance," Wowak said.

Follow J.M. Brown on Twitter at Twitter.com/jmbrownreports

Staff writers Stephen Baxter, Jessica Pasko, Jason Hoppin, Brian Pifer and Julie Copeland contributed to this report.

View or sign the online guest book for Elizabeth Butler

View or sign the online guest book for Loran Baker

2013 HOMICIDES

Jan. 18: Marco Topete, an 18-year-old from Watsonville, was riding a bike in an industrial area on Second Street near Walker Street in Watsonville when he was shot several times, according to police. He died at the scene. Police said Topete was not a gang member but it was a gang-motivated shooting. No one has been arrested.
Feb 9: Pauly Silva, 32, was shot several times outside a bar on the 1000 block of Cedar Street in Santa Cruz about 12:30 a.m. A 1990s Mercedes was spotted leaving the scene and its description was relayed to authorities. Watsonville police stopped the car near South Green Valley Road minutes later and detained two men. A third man was arrested in Santa Cruz. They were held on gang-related charges as police investigated their possible involvement in the shooting, police said. Silva of Santa Cruz was a plumber, a father of two and a martial arts expert. Police say he was not a gang member.
Feb. 15: Marco Ortega, 18, of Watsonville, was shot multiple times in the upper body while attending a girls soccer game at Watsonville High School around 8 p.m. He was taken to Watsonville Community Hospital, where he died. Police say he was not a gang member but was "loosely associated with a gang." No one has been arrested.
Feb. 26: Two Santa Cruz police officers were gunned down by an unnamed suspect on the 800 block of Branciforte Avenue about 3:30 p.m. The suspect was shot and killed within an hour after the first shooting on the 100 block of Doyle Street.

SOURCE: Sentinel reporting