Santa Cruz already knew that being one of the nation’s most beautiful beach towns and a haven for progressives did not exempt it from gun violence.
The city of 60,000 people had planned a rally against gun violence and crime outside its Town Clock on Tuesday afternoon.
Then the shooting began, leaving two policemen and one suspect dead, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported. There were schools nearby in the residential area but they had already closed for the day.
The shootings, combined with an incident in Switzerland which left three dead and seven injured today, will focus more attention on the need for tighter gun controls.
“Our department is in mourning. This is a horrific day. We lost two exceptionally fine officers today,” Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel said, according to The San Jose Mercury News.
KSBW TV of Monterrey said Vogel identified the slain police officers as Detective Loran "Butch" Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler. Butler was a 10-year veteran, and mother of two, and Baker a 28-year veteran. Deputies from Santa Cruz County took over the duties of patrolling the beach city.
“My heart goes out to those who were involved, said Sheriff Phil Wowak.
In the first of at least two incidents that were followed by the shootings, police had arrested and then released Jeremy Peter Goulet, 35. KSBW said Goulet was identified as the suspect who was shot dead by police.
The detectives were shot when they tried to question Jeremy Goulet about an alleged sexual assault in the harbor coffee shot where the 35-year-old worked, Associated Press reported. He already had been fired.
Witnesses said the shooting was so intense it became terrifying. Some of it was recorded on mobile phones.
The Los Angeles Times said Goulet had a gun and was wearing body armor, and had taken the guns of the two murdered detectives when he was killed.
Goulet had been convicted of carrying a concealed weapon and sprying on a woman who was showering in 2008 in Portland, Ore.
“We need to figure out a way to bring our department together as we work through this, said Vogel.
There had been growing concern about crime and violence in the Northern California coastal city near Monterrey. No officer had ever been killed.
The Los Angeles Times reported: "The shootings came on the heels of a bad rash of crime: a UC Santa Cruz student shot in the head, a home-invasion robbery and more."
The shooter apparently fired on officers investigating a domestic violence incident on North Branciforte about 3:30 p.m. Pacific Time, killing two them of them. The police department had 94 officers.
Other officers pursued the suspect and shot him during a gun battle 30 minutes after the two officers were killed, the Mercury News said.
The city had imposed new gun control rules earlier in the day. “There’s an epidemic of gun violence in this country. And we as a community and a country have to come to terms with our relationship with guns, and we have to work to ensure safety for everyone,” Town Supervisor John Leopold had said.
The NRA had opposed the new rules, which limited where gun shops could be located.
Mayor Hilary Bryant was in a City Council meeting when the shooting began, and had to leave to discuss the shootings.
Santa Cruz draws tourists to visit an amusement park, one of the nation’s most highly rated, along the beach. Its waves also draw the world's best surfers.
According to Wikipedia, "it is California's oldest surviving amusement park and one of the few seaside parks on the West Coast of the United States."
Here is how the Los Angeles Times described Santa Cruz: “The city, about 60 miles south of San Francisco, is best known for its famed surf spots, seaside amusement park and diverse community that includes a University of California campus.”