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SANTA CRUZ -- Even before his sudden death at the hands of a gunman Tuesday, Santa Cruz police Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker had left a legacy.

In addition to being one of the most veteran and respected officers in town, Baker, a 28-year member of the force who was nearing retirement, passed on the love of policing to his son Adam. The young man was just out of Harbor High School when he started serving as community service officer, a position he still holds.

In 2010, the Sentinel reported Adam Baker had grown up hearing stories from his well-respected father.

"I've grown up around this place," he said. "I've always wanted to work for Santa Cruz."

Loran ’Butch’ Baker with his son, Adam, when Adam joined the Santa Cruz Police as a Community Service Officer in September of 2010. (Larissa
Loran 'Butch' Baker with his son, Adam, when Adam joined the Santa Cruz Police as a Community Service Officer in September of 2010. (Larissa Mueller/Sentinel)

At the time, Butch Baker said the choice his son made to follow in his footsteps "kind of threw me for a loop."

Their mailboxes were placed side by side at the department.

"I've been inspired by that 'new guy' persona. ... I get glimpses of me when I first started," Butch Baker said at the time.

Police Chief Kevin Vogel was Butch Baker's partner at the time Adam Baker was born.

Baker worked with UCSC Executive Vice Chancellor Alison Galloway, a noted forensic anthropologist, on several notable cases including the still-unsolved case of Pogonip Jane, a woman whose remains were found in Santa Cruz's largest greenbelt in 1994.

Butch Baker said in 2010 that he told his son to work hard for the department.

"It's a great community to be a cop in," he told the Sentinel. "You don't get bored."

Deborah Elston, a co-founder of the advocacy group Santa Cruz Neighbors, has relied on Butch Baker for support and who has been working with Adam Baker recently to help clean up the San Lorenzo River levee.

"It's such an incredible loss of his expertise and just a salt-of-the-earth guy," Elston said, adding that he was "very personable, thoughtful and very approachable."

In addition to his son, Baker leaves behind a wife and two daughters.