Santa Cruz police officer Elizabeth Butler patrols along Pacific Avenue in 2005. Butler was killed Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, in a shooting in Santa Cruz,
Santa Cruz police officer Elizabeth Butler patrols along Pacific Avenue in 2005. Butler was killed Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, in a shooting in Santa Cruz, Calif. (Shmuel Thaler/Sentinel file) (Shmuel Thaler)

SANTA CRUZ -- Like generations of others, Santa Cruz police detective Elizabeth Butler came to town to study at UC Santa Cruz and stayed.

The 10-year veteran of the force was gunned down Tuesday alongside veteran Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker. She had worked as a patrol officer, hostage negotiator, downtown foot and bike officer, and an agent assigned to the Santa Cruz County drug task force.

In a June 2011 post on the Police Department blog, Butler said she grew up in Los Angeles and moved to Santa Cruz in 1992 to attend UCSC, where she graduated as a community studies major.

She wrote she enjoyed morning buns rolled in sugar at Kelly's Bakery on the Westside and the view at night of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk while riding a roller coaster.

"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," wrote Butler, adding that she enjoyed hiking, walking on the beach, cooking and spending time with her family.

But she also dealt with the other side of life in Santa Cruz as part of her job.

Butler gave testimony in an April 2012 preliminary hearing of a man accused of killing a Santa Cruz woman and leaving her body in his apartment for days. The man, John Bruce Clauer, still awaits trial on first-degree murder charges.

In 2005, the Sentinel profiled Butler while she was patrolling downtown. A reporter described her as "friendly, but with the stern edge of a parent or teacher."

She encountered a young man sitting on a planter box and told him, "You know you can't sit here," then adding to the reporter, "I'm always reminding him that the parking lot is private property. It's a lot like parenting with all the reminders."

Butler described her job then as a mixed bag of public relations and fighting crime, saying almost every day she would confront homeless people, shoplifters, drunks, drug deals, panhandling, and tourists asking how to get to the beach or where to get the best burger in town.

"You have to be a people person down here," Butler told the Sentinel. "I really do know people's names. You know their names, you know the ones who have problems with narcotics."

Butler is survived by her partner, Peter, and two children.