By J.M. Brown
Santa Cruz Sentinel
SANTA CRUZ -- In their first public statements since last month's memorial services for police Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker and detective Elizabeth Butler, family members of the city's first officers killed in the line of fire issued open letters to the community Monday.
The two letters, released by the Santa Cruz Police Department, thanked members of the force and other law enforcement agencies for their support during the days and weeks after the Feb. 26 shootings. The families also expressed gratitude to state and federal officials for their support and recognition, as well as to everyday citizens who offered help and lined the motorcade route from Santa Cruz to the March 7 funeral in San Jose.
The officers, gunned down at the hands of a sexual assault suspect, left behind a host of loved ones, including a total of five children. Several family members spoke during the memorial services that attracted thousands of law enforcement officials from across California to the HP Pavilion, but otherwise the families have made no statements to the media until Monday.
"I mourn my husband, not for the police officer he was, but for the loss of my true love, childhood sweetheart and soul mate," Baker's widow, Kelly, wrote in the letter. "Our lengthy 'when I retire' discussions were shattered in an instant along with our hopes and dreams of a beautiful future together."
Baker, a 28-year veteran of the force, was 51 and had three children, Jillian, Adam and Ashley. Kelly Baker said she draws strength from the cards and notes sent from across the country.
"Our family's 'normal' is no longer; every day we fumble for a new normal or anything that feels even remotely the same as it was before Feb. 26," Kelly Baker wrote. The truth is, nothing will every feel quite right, but the sincere outpouring of love and support from our Santa Cruz community have given us the strength and courage to carry on."
Butler, 38, was the mother of two young children, Stellan and Joaquin, and also left behind partner Peter Wu, mother Louise Butler and sister Alexis Butler.
"Each day is filled with both tears and moments of deep sadness," said the letter from Wu and the Butler family. "Yet almost every day of the past month has also included moments of awe and amazement at the love and honor paid to Elizabeth's memory."
Tuesday, the Santa Cruz City Council is expected to accept more than $333,000 in donations to a scholarship fund that will be established to honor Baker and Butler. Donors will be acknowledged during the beginning of the council's 3 p.m. meeting in Council Chambers, 809 Center St.
Follow reporter J.M. Brown on Twitter at Twitter.com/jmbrownreports.