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Slain US police officers shot by surprise

Friday 01 Mar 2013 9:41a.m.

Slain US officers shot by surprise

By Jason Dearen and Martha Mendoza

Two California police detectives gunned down while investigating a sexual assault complaint were interviewing the suspect when he shot them by surprise, sheriff's officials said Thursday.

The suspect, 35-year-old Jeremy Goulet, had been interviewed for about 20 minutes when he surprised the detectives, Sgt. Loran Butch Baker and Elizabeth Butler, on Tuesday at his home and killed them with his own .45 calibre gun.

"The officers had no chance to protect themselves," Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak said.

Goulet then took the officer's guns and stole Baker's car. He was eventually cornered at a nearby apartment complex and killed during a gun battle with authorities.

Goulet fought losing battles to control his rage and a Peeping Tom obsession, destructive urges that led to his failure in the military and set him on a path toward the deadly final conflict, his father said.

The quiet beach town was still reeling as teary-eyed law enforcement leaders struggled to explain how Jeremy Goulet had managed to kill Baker and Butler.

Hundreds of grieving community members gathered Wednesday night for a vigil near the police department, with photos of Baker and Butler sitting on a table surrounded by flowers and candles. Some people wore blue-and-black armbands in solidarity with the police.

Those who knew or were associated with Goulet said a hatred for the justice system had swelled in him since he graduated in 2000 with a degree in criminal justice from San Diego State University. This feeling was fuelled by years of run-ins with police and prosecutors after accusations during his military tenure of sex-related crimes, his father, Ronald Goulet, 64, told The Associated Press.

"He had contempt for the cops and hated our justice system, and had been in jail before and swore he'd never go back," his father said in halting, emotional bursts during an interview Wednesday. "But I didn't think by any means he would do anything like this."

The killings prompted police Chief Kevin Vogel to order his force of 92 officers to step down for the day, allowing sheriffs and the highway patrol to take over the city's protection. "It's been devastating," Vogel said Wednesday.

After shooting the two detectives, Goulet was boxed in the neighbourhood by responding officers so he left the car and headed back toward his house.

A team of law enforcement officers spotted him and ordered him to give up. Instead, he ran. When cornered, he opened fire and was killed in the shootout.

Goulet and his twin brother, Jeffery Goulet, grew up near Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California, where Ronald Goulet was stationed during his 26 years in the military. He said that after his divorce from the boys' mother, the twins both dealt with anger management issues.

"The brothers used to argue and get in bad fist fights with each other," the father said. "Both of them had anger management issues, but (Jeremy's) brother matured and he didn't."

During college, Jeremy Goulet served in the US Marine Corps Reserve. His father said Jeremy was arrested then for peeping, a misdemeanour.

"He's got one problem: peeping in windows," said his father. "I asked him, `Why don't you just go to a strip club?'"

After graduating from college, he landed in the US Army, where he trained as a helicopter pilot. He was moving forward in his career when he again stumbled into legal troubles in the Army and was discharged, his father said.

Goulet moved to Portland, Ore., to be with his twin brother, Jeffery, despite a strained relationship.

Goulet's father said his son sent a text message to Jeffery Tuesday, saying, "I'm in big trouble, I love you," the father recalled. "Jeff texted back and Jeremy wouldn't answer and next thing we know he was shot and killed."

Goulet, who had served two years in prison in Oregon, was most recently in Santa Cruz County jail Friday on charges of public intoxication. Earlier that evening, a colleague at the coffee shop where he was working filed a complaint with police about inappropriate sexual advances. He was fired the next day, and the detectives had been following up.

In May 2008, he went to trial on charges of peeping on a young woman in Portland as she took a shower in her condo, and for trying to kill her boyfriend.

Goulet was convicted of carrying a gun without a concealed weapon permit and invasion of personal privacy. After violating his probation, he was sentenced to two years in jail.

Following his release, Goulet moved to Berkeley, where until last fall, a neighbour said the twin brothers lived for at least a year in a brown-shingled house on a quiet street.

Alicia Morrison said she and her husband lived in the apartment just below the brothers and called the police in September when they got into a violent fight.

"I didn't think it was an everyday fight. It sounded like one of them was going to get killed," she said.

Jeremy left before the police arrived on that occasion.

Neighbours had called police for the same reason before, Morrison said.

"Every time the police were called, they (the brothers) acted like it was no big deal," she said.

Some acquaintances in Santa Cruz said Goulet made a good first impression, but were alarmed at the recent accusations.

"He seemed like a totally normal guy, till last week when he had this encounter with this woman, which was totally weird," Courtney Antrim-Web, a chocolatier who worked at the shop next to the coffee place.

The elder Goulet said his son had gone to California for a fresh start after his legal troubles and incarceration in Portland.

"He wanted to restart his life. He was really upset at the system ... he already had anger management issues, so everything was coming to a head," Ronald Goulet said. "He swore up and down that he would not spend one more day in jail."

AP

 
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