SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Although fallen Santa Cruz detectives Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker and Elizabeth Butler will long be praised for their compassionate, uncompromising police work, their children movingly reminded 8,500 people attending their memorial services Thursday that their most cherished and accomplished roles were as parents.
It was through the eyes of their survivors that throngs of uniformed law enforcement officers, dignitaries and everyday citizens gathered in grief at HP Pavilion came to understand the real essence of the pair killed by a gunman just nine days earlier.
Butler's partner, Peter Wu, slowly walked on stage carrying their 5-year-old son, Joaquin, who wore a police cap and clutched a small teddy bear close to his chest. As he held the boy, Wu shared a vow he had whispered to Butler as he viewed her body.
"I would take care of our boys and make sure they would always know what a great person their mom was," he said. "I promised her our sons would grow up to be gentle and to be loving."
Baker's daughter, Jillian, accompanied by brother Adam, a Santa Cruz community service officer, read from a 2005 Father's Day card she penned.
"You have fought for me, cared for me and put my safety and security first," she said. "You taught me when I fall, I must get up. You always led by example. You always fight for the good and morally right."
'HOLES IN OUR HEARTS'
Thursday's 2 1/2 -hour-long memorial services -- punctuated by humorous remembrances and the heart-wrenching formality of bagpipes, honor guards and a helicopter flyover -- began at noon after a 30-mile motorcade from Santa Cruz that featured more than 200 law enforcement vehicles and fire engines. Hundreds watched live video feeds of the service at Kaiser Permanente Arena and the Del Mar Theatre in Santa Cruz.
The Feb. 26 shootings of Baker, 51, and Butler, 38, marked the first deaths for Santa Cruz police officers in the line of duty since the department formed in 1866. The tragedy has left the small surfing mecca and university town numb with pain and shock as the community comes to grips with a rash of gun violence that included two other shootings in February.
As for the gunman, who fired on the two officers without warning and was later killed by responding authorities, 35-year-old cop killer Jeremy Goulet was cast Thursday as a "madman" whose dark history as a military service member and troubled civilian should have been blunted long ago.
Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel, who considered Baker a mentor, said, "We are left to ask, will the pain ever end? How do we fill the holes in our hearts? How do we take our next step?"
He said the two officers, following up on an assault complaint lodged by a neighbor against Goulet, were compassionate people whose warm personalities made them ideal for police work in Santa Cruz. He described them as "two heroes, two friends taken from us far too soon at the hands of a madman -- someone who would've gotten a fair shake from Elizabeth and Butch had he just given them a chance."
Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, a Carmel Valley resident who once represented Santa Cruz in the U.S. House of Representatives, said, "There is no way we will ever really understand what made the killer do what he did that afternoon in what can only be described as an act of execution."
California Attorney General Kamala Harris said, "In the midst of this pain, we must remember that the idea for which they gave everything lives on. It takes a very special kind of person to get up every day, put on a badge and take on all the problems of a troubled world."
FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS
While the public service was a large tribute -- moved from Santa Cruz to the 18,000-seat San Jose sporting and concert arena -- it often carried an intimate tone befitting a service for family and friends. Beside twin flag-draped caskets stood portraits of the two in uniform and with family.
Before the service began, family photos streamed on a four-sided screen hanging above the pavilion floor. The Lionel Richie and Diana Ross duet "Endless