LOMITA (CBSLA.com) —Family and friends mourned the loss of a Santa Cruz police detective from the Southland who was gunned down Tuesday.
Det. Elizabeth Butler, along with Sgt. Loren “Butch” Baker, was shot at the home of suspect Jeremy Goulet around 3:30 p.m. in connection with a sexual assault investigation.
The officers were the first members of the Santa Cruz Police Department ever killed in the line of duty.
Butler grew up in Lomita and graduated from Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance. In 1992, she moved to Santa Cruz and enrolled in UC Santa Cruz.
Butler attended Evergreen Police Academy before she joined the police department, where she remained for 10 years.
Family friend Paula McKendry, who watched Butler blossom, said the 38-year-old was a beautiful woman, inside and out.
“She had a zest for life. A sparkle in her eye,” she said. “She was a devoted mother, a wonderful daughter, a kind, giving sister. An All-American family.”
In a statement, Butler’s older sister, Alexis, said, “Her entire life was admirable. I couldn’t have known someone better than her. She was a really good police officer. She was good at interviewing and interrogating. It’s necessary that more women like her join the police force, especially in units that deal with children and women, like she did in the sex crimes unit.”
In an interview in a police blog, Butler said the most important part of her job was making the city “a safe place to live and raise families.”
The fallen detective leaves behind her partner and two young sons, ages 2 and 5.
McKendry said Butler’s mother was in Santa Cruz looking after her grandsons at the time of the shooting.
“She’s heartbroken,” she said.