SANTA CRUZ: Two police detectives were shot and killed while investigating a sexual assault complaint, and a suspect was also fatally shot after a brief chase, authorities said.
The veteran officers, one male and one female, were shot around 3:30pm as they went to a suspect’s home to follow up on the case.
Their deaths were confirmed by Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak.
A suspect was shot and killed a short time later while authorities were pursuing the gunman, the sheriff’s office said.
After the officers were shot, nearby residents received an automatic police call warning them to stay locked inside.
About half an hour later, more than a dozen semi-automatic shots echoed down the streets in a brief barrage of gunfire that killed the suspect.
Police Chief Kevin Vogel said Sergeant Loren Butch Baker, a 28-year veteran, and Detective Elizabeth Butler, a 10-year veteran, were shot and killed.
“There aren’t words to describe this horrific tragedy,” he said. “This is the darkest day in the history of the Santa Cruz police department.”
The suspect who was killed in the shooting was identified as 35-year-old Jeremy Goulet, who was arrested on Friday after a co-worker at a Santa Cruz coffee shop alleged he went to her house and made inappropriate sexual advances.
The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported that he was fired the next day.
To investigate the complaint, the detectives went to the house where Goulet was living and an altercation ensued, leading to the officers being fired upon, authorities said.
The detectives called for backup and neighbours also summoned police. Responding officers located Goulet a short time later. The sheriff’s office said he was killed in the gunfire that followed.
After the shootings, police went door-to-door in the neighborhood, searching homes, garages, even closets to determine whether there might be additional suspects.
Police, sheriff’s deputies and FBI agents filled intersections, some with guns drawn, in what is ordinarily a quiet, residential neighborhood in the community about 96km south of San Francisco.
A store clerk a few buildings away from the shooting said the barrage of gunfire was “terrifying.”
“We ducked. We have big desks so under the desks we went,” said the clerk, who spoke on condition of anonymity and asked that her store not be identified because she feared for her safety.