2 Santa Cruz Police Officers Shot, Killed

One suspect also is dead. Police were combing the area around Branciforte and Soquel Avenue for a possible second suspect.

Updated 8:04 p.m.

Two Santa Cruz police officers were shot to death Tuesday afternoon and a suspect was also shot in an apartment building on Doyle Street, just behind Whole Foods. 

Elizabeth Butler and Butch Baker were the two Santa Cruz Police Department veterans killed by gunfire on Tuesday afternoon. 

"The department is mourning the most horrendous day in our history," said Police Chief Kevin Vogel. "We lost two officers."

Sheriff Phil Wowak's department is taking over the investigation.  

Sheriff's spokeswoman April Skalland said the first gunfire occurred after officers went to North Branciforte Avenue as part of an investigation.

The coroner was called to the area late in the afternoon.

The first report of gunshot victims came in just before 3:30 p.m. Two people had reportedly been wounded at 818 N. Branciforte Ave., between Sunnyside Avenue and Water Street, according to emergency radio traffic.

Some media had reported those shooting victims may include at least one police officer. KSBW reported that a male and a female officer were shot.

The address associated with the first shooting is a single-family home across from Branciforte Small Schools Campus.

Ground ambulances were called for two wounded people. Medical helicopters were dispatched to Dominican Hospital fly victims to trauma centers for treatment. The extent of their injuries was not made public.

The second shooting was reported at 140 Doyle St., off North Branciforte. An ambulance was not needed to provide aid to that shooting victim, according to emergency radio traffic. There were conflicting reports about the status of that victim: KSBW said the person was grazed by gunfire and refused treatment. Stab Santa Cruz, a public safety website, reported via Facebook that the person was suspected in the first shooting and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported that Police Chief Kevin Vogel abruptly left a city council meeting to head to the emergency.

A neighborhood resident, who declined to give his name, said he was sitting in his house in the 800 block of North Branciforte Avenue when he heard gunfire across the street around 3:30 p.m. Police soon arrived, he said.

A while later, he heard a "multitude of gunfire" coming from the area of the Whole Foods Market parking lot nearby. He said police had told residents to stay inside and not to leave.

He said he saw two gurneys being rolled down his street.

As of 4:45 p.m., he said the street was filled with at least 25 marked police cars. 

Children locked in the Branciforte Small Schools Campus during Tuesday's shooting were released about 7 p.m. to board busses waiting to reunite them with their families. 

An employee at Darco Printing and Paper Store located at 130 Doyle St. said the second shooting happened a couple of doors down from the paper shop.

The employee, Megan, who declined to give her last name, said the business had received an automated call from Santa Cruz police at about 3:40 p.m. The message stated that a high-profile incident was occurring, and instructed the business to go on lockdown.

She and another employee locked the doors, and a while later heard a lot of gunfire coming from down the street.

"It was fairly close," she said.

Police have swarmed the neighborhood, she said.

"At one point there were approximately 20 officers all hiding behind a van with their guns drawn," Megan said.

She said a slew of law enforcement agencies have responded, including the sheriff's office and "every police department in the area, from Scotts Valley to Watsonville."

Shortly before 6:30 p.m., an hour after they were supposed to go home, she and the second employee remained on lockdown.

The Whole Foods was still on lockdown, and a pharmacy employee at an adjacent Rite Aid said that business was closed.

Police ordered a lockdown at Midtown Montessori at 818 N. Branciforte Ave. at 4 p.m., a preschool employee said.

The employee said all students are safe.

There are several schools in the block where the first shooting happened.

At the time of that shooting, some elementary school students were playing outside across the street from where officers were investigating, waiting for their parents to pick them up, a parent said.

They were quickly pulled back indoors after the gunfire broke out, said Mike Stout, a parent of two girls, ages 6 and 9, at one of the schools.

"I just feel nervous, why are they taking so long?" Stout said.

"What we're curious about is that they came here at 3:30 for an
investigation" just as school was letting out.

Investigators are searching for a white Honda or Toyota Corolla four-door seen leaving the scene of the Branciforte shooting, according to KSBW. There also was a person of interest associated with the case: Jeremy Goulet, 35. He is 155 pounds and 5 feet, 8 inches tall blond hair and blue eyes.

Three other schools were on lockdown, according to KSBW.

—Bay City News contributed to this report.

Jeremy Barousse February 27, 2013 at 08:01 PM
What a horrible tragedy. My thoughts are with the officers' families as well as the entire Santa Cruz community.
Michelle McNutt February 27, 2013 at 08:20 PM
So very, very sad. A terrible thing when those who look after our safety give their life in service to our cities. We must get illegal guns out of the hands of criminals. He was previously convicted of illegally possessing a gun and he was a convicted sex offender. He should have been in prison, not on the streets.
Jesse Ducker February 27, 2013 at 08:35 PM
Horrible, horrible tragedy. So needless.
Nelly potter March 02, 2013 at 05:06 PM
Condolences to the PARENTS, FAMILIES, RELATIVES AND FRIENDS of the 3-three lives lost.
Locked n Loaded March 06, 2013 at 10:16 AM
Quit a few years back we had 4 cops murdered here in Tacoma Wa. They were siting in the coffee shop doing paper work. The scum Bag stood in line thenn turned toward them. Pulled out his weapon and started shooting at them. One officers was able to shoot him once before he died. The shooter survived and fled the scene. He was eventually killed a few days later. Condolences to the officers families


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »