SANTA CRUZ, Calif.--There was no way for Santa Cruz police detectives Loran "Butch" Baker and Elizabeth Butler to know everything they needed to know about the suspect they were about to confront.
They didn't know 35-year-old Jeremy Peter Goulet had a history of run-ins with the law, and recently had confided to others a vow of violence. They didn't know Goulet himself was police-trained while in the Marine Corps Reserves. And they didn't know Goulet's own family regarded him as a "ticking time bomb" who vowed not to go back to jail.
There was no way to know any of it. Instead they stumbled into a death trap, when a man many described as unstable and prone to anger opened fire, committing two cold-blooded slayings that have rocked this laid-back, coastal town. Goulet himself died minutes later when he exchanged gunfire with multiple law enforcement officers across from a busy Santa Cruz shopping center.
A fuller picture of Goulet began rounding into shape Wednesday, showing a troubled man who set off a series of small alarms but never quite triggered the peals of warning bells that in retrospect seemed needed. The shooting was such a shock to the department that Santa Cruz County sheriff's deputies and the California Highway have taken over patrols of the city.
Goulet's most serious run-in was a 2007 incident in Portland, Ore., not long after he left the Army. He was caught peeping on a 22-year-old Portland woman, scuffling with the woman's boyfriend and discharging a firearm during the melee. Oddly, police never found the gun.
He was beaten badly during the exchange, even losing a piece of his ear. Charged with four felonies and two misdemeanors, he was acquitted of the more serious charges, including attempted murder. Those familiar with the case said Goulet came across as normal, and suggested the Portland jury was sympathetic based on the outcome of the fight.
"Had he been convicted of attempted murder, it would have been 90 months mandatory minimum; seven-and-a-half years," said Don Rees, a chief deputy district attorney in Multnomah County. "He would have still been in prison."
Goulet was ordered to undergo sex offender treatment as a condition of his probation. But he fought with his female probation officer, refusing to leave the premises after one meeting and even peering back into her window from outside.
He also was cited for two misdemeanors in San Diego, in 1999 and again in 2000. No further information was immediately available, but Rees said they were "peeping" cases.
Those incidents occurred during Goulet's decade in the military, which ended in February 2007 after three years in the Army. Despite being a Blackhawk helicopter pilot, Goulet was never assigned to a war zone--the furthest he got was a stint in Honduras, according to Army records.