Mourners brought cards, candles, flowers and other items near the site where two Santa Cruz detectives -- including a 10-year department veteran who grew up in Los Angeles -- were shot and killed Tuesday afternoon.
The memorial items included hearts with the message, "Thank you SCPD."
The detectives' encounter with gunman Jeremy Goulet, 35 -- also was killed during the 3:30 p.m. shootout -- led to what the city's police chief described as the department's "darkest day."
"We don't yet know all that happened when they first came into contact," said Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak at a Wednesday news conference. "They were just doing their jobs."
The police officers who were killed in the line of duty, the first in the city's history, were identified as Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler. They had a combined 38 years of experience with the Santa Cruz Police Department.
"We're a small family with a staff of 94 sworn police officers," Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel said Wednesday. "We're having a tough time with this. We have never experienced anything like this. We've always had kind of an outside perspective on what this feels like."
Baker had been with the department for 28 years and leaves behind a wife, two daughters and a son, Adam, who works for the department as a community service officer.
Butler, who grew up in Los Angeles, leaves her partner, Peter, and two sons, ages 5 and 1. The couple met at a ceramics studio in San Francisco and moved to Santa Cruz.
"This is the darkest day in the history of the Santa Cruz Police Department," Vogel said.
Baker and Butler went to an address on North Branciforte Avenue as a part of an investigation Tuesday. In making contact with Goulet to follow up on a misdemeanor sex assault investigation, an altercation ensued.
Both detectives were killed at the scene, the doorstep to Goulet's home. The gunman then took their weapons and Butler's vehicle, but did not leave the neighborhood as police established a perimeter.
Another group of officers and deputies engaged Goulet in a shootout during which a Santa Cruz fire truck was struck by gunfire. Fire department personnel assisted residents and protected some by covering them with their bodies, Wowak said.
When Goulet was found, he was wearing body armor, according to the Santa Cruz Sheriff's Department. He had three weapons, according to the department.
Members of the California Highway Patrol and Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Department provided law enforcement aid Wednesday in Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz officers were given the day off to mourn.
Santa Cruz officers are likely to return to duty later this week, Wowak said.
Goulet has a "significant criminal history," he said.
Goulet was found guilty in 2008 of peeping at a woman while she showered in Portland, Ore., and also convicted of carrying a gun without a permit. The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported he was arrested last week for disorderly conduct, and was fired Saturday from his job as a barista at a harbor coffee shop.
According to the Sentinel, he apparently broke into a co-worker's house on Friday and made inappropriate sexual advances toward her, according to a coffee shop employee, who asked to remain anonymous. He was fired from the coffee shop on Saturday, the newspaper reported.
The female barista filed a police report and talked to police as late as Tuesday afternoon. That may have been what sent investigators back to Goulet's residence Tuesday.
NBC Bay Area's George Kiriyama and Bay City News contributed to this report.
Photo credits: Larissa Mueller/Santa Cruz Sentinel; Baker family