Hawaii. San Diego. Oregon. Berkeley. Santa Cruz.
It’s not as if Jeremy Goulet did not leave a trail before his deadly encounter with Santa Cruz police Tuesday afternoon.
Court martialed and and discharged from the military due to two rape complaints, later dropped when he left the military.
While in the military, he was picked up on another sex-related charge in San Diego.
Arrested and convicted in Portland on gun and sex charges. He later served two years in jail after he refused to cooperate with the local probation department.
In August, Goulet was arrested again, this time in Berkeley on another peeping tom complaint. His East Bay neighbors told reporters they called police in September after they heard the sounds of a violent fight between Goulet and his twin brother, who was his roommate. But Jeremy Goulet left before police arrived. He also fought with a girlfriend, said the neighbors.
And then Goulet chose Santa Cruz as the place he wanted to be.
Whatever idyll he was expecting, whether inside himself or in new surroundings, proved short-lived. On Feb. 22 he was arrested here, on drunk and disorderly charges in an incident involving sexual advances toward a co-worker. He bailed out of jail after a few hours and was fired the next day from his job at a Santa Cruz coffee shop. He also was being investigated for a sexual assault on a minor, according to the county Sheriff’s Office.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak said the two Santa Cruz detectives sent to Goulet’s home Tuesday afternoon had limited details about the man’s previous history. While hindsight reveals a pattern that would concern any law enforcement professional, Goulet was not a convicted felon. Nor had he been put on any official registration list of sex offenders. The peeping tom offenses in Oregon did not translate into Goulet being required to register as a sex offender in whatever community he was living. The Hawaii rape charges were dropped. Moreover, there is no database that includes everyone’s arrest records and case files that follow him from every city, county and state. That background would have come together as the case progressed, which of course it never did.
All along the way, Goulet stayed just this side of being locked up for a long time — a result that would have saved the lives of the two detectives he shot and killed Tuesday. But that, again, is hindsight.
Nor were there any official diagnoses of mental illness, even though people he encountered along the way say they found him “hostile,” “angry,” even “crazy.”
Police come into contact with troubled individuals every day, especially in a beach town such as Santa Cruz that attracts a diversity of people.
A lot of the attention on the Goulet case is centering on what happened in Portland in 2007 and 2008 — mainly because if Goulet had been locked up for a long time there, he never would have had the opportunity to kill the two Santa Cruz officers.
The judge and the prosecutor in that case say they knew Goulet was trouble and troubled, but that a jury — in a liberal town where attitudes are similar to what might be expected in Santa Cruz — did not see it that way and convicted him of lesser charges, of misdemeanors.
He had been beaten up by the boyfriend of a woman he was spying on, and after a confrontation involving a gun Goulet was carrying, eventually arrested. Later, though, his hostile and erratic behavior with probation officers ended up with him being re-arrested. The same judge who presided over his trial gave Goulet a choice to follow his probation terms or go to jail. Goulet chose jail, and the judge put him in jail for two years — a year for each of the two charges of which he was convicted.
Judge Eric Bloch told reporters this week, after what happened in Santa Cruz, that when he sentenced Goulet, he believed he was a “risk to the community,” so much so that he imposed the maximum penalty available. Bloch also said he denied motions to reduce the jail sentence, believing Goulet should be held as long as possible.
“The same issues we were trying to help him with while he was in our system came to a head elsewhere,” Bloch told the Portland Oregonian newspaper. “They went untreated, escalated, ended in his death, the death of two police officers and added possible trauma to the person who filed the complaint against him. It’s tragic all the way around.”
Goulet’s behavior and actions also caused the boyfriend of the woman he was spying on to live in fear Goulet would seek revenge, even after the couple moved to Canada. Danny Thomas described Goulet this week as “100 percent crazy” and said that as sad as the events in Santa Cruz were, he was not surprised when he heard it was Goulet involved in the killing of the two officers.
The man who prosecuted Goulet, former Multnomah County deputy district attorney Greg Moawad, said Goulet “was clearly someone who did not want to change.”
And despite what we now know about Goulet’s sexual deviancy, a peeping tom incident is not enough in Oregon to classify someone as a registered sex offender. And even if that had happened, there’s no guarantee those records would have followed Goulet to California.
Even if they had, there are hundreds of sex offenders in the local database. There is no logical inference that any of them would then progress toward killing police. In other words, the one offense and character defect does not mean that Santa Cruz police would automatically think Goulet was, in the words of his father, a “ticking time bomb.”
What responsibility does Goulet’s family have? His father, in subsequent interviews with reporters, has said his son’s problems stemmed from his obsessive desire to spy on women. He also said his son was a longtime gun owner.
But again, what everyone knew along the way does not appear to have reached critical mass.
It’s easy, after this week’s tragedy, to say that law enforcement needs to do a better job of sharing information, or tracking dangerous criminals, or alerting authorities in different states and municipalities. We can’t help but remember how after 9/11, it came to light that federal agencies such as the FBI and CIA were not sharing vital information about potential terrorists in this country. Would such sharing have prevented that calamity? We’ll never know. But we do know that information sharing drastically improved afterward.
For now, though, it seems a quirk of fate, if there is such a thing, that Jeremy Goulet stayed just this side of a lengthy prison sentence that would have kept him away from Santa Cruz. He could have been stopped. But he wasn’t — and putting it all together, after the fact, Goulet’s record shouts from the heavens that something terrible could go wrong.
Shockingly, tragically, it did.