Latest Northern California news, sports, business and entertainment

POLICE SHOOTING-CALIFORNIA-VICTIMS

2 slain Calif. officers heralded as exemplary

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) — The Santa Cruz police chief says the department lost two exemplary investigators in Tuesday's shootout with a suspect they hoped to interview about a sex crime.

Chief Police Chief Kevin Vogel says Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler were leaders, friends and invaluable resources to the small department of 94 sworn officers.

Vogel said he and Baker started on the force together in 1985. He said Baker was the department's best investigator.

Butler was a 10-year veteran of the force who specialized in investigating sexual assault cases

The pair arrived at Goulet's home Tuesday afternoon in plain clothes about a misdemeanor sexual assault accusation. Police say Goulet shot and killed Baker and Butler at the doorstep, then disarmed both officers and stole Butler's vehicle.

Several law enforcement teams encircled Goulet on a neighboring street, where he was shot dead.

POLICE SHOOTING-CALIFORNIA

Sheriff: Calif. cop shooting suspect had armor

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) — Sheriff's officials say the suspect in the killing of two California police detectives had body armor and three guns.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak said Wednesday that the body armor and guns were found on 35-year-old Jeremy Goulet after he was shot and killed by authorities.

Authorities say Goulet shot and killed Sgt. Loran Butch Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler on Tuesday afternoon at the doorstep of Goulet's home.

The detectives wanted to question him regarding a report that he had made inappropriate sexual advances toward a co-worker.

PERU-MISSING AMERICANS

Peru official: 2 missing Americans are safe

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Peru's tourism minister says he has spoken with the young Californian reported missing with his girlfriend for more than a month before officials located them in the Amazon jungle this week.

Minister Jose Luis Silva told a news conference that Garrett Hand laughed a lot after Silva told him about all the commotion he and girlfriend Jamie Neal caused by failing to notify relatives of their whereabouts.

After relatives mounted a publicity campaign, including on Facebook, Peru sought out the couple and a police officer in an Amazon jungle hamlet positively identified them Tuesday.

Peruvian authorities then dispatched two officials to try to catch up to the two 25-year-olds from the San Francisco area before they reached Ecuador, where they were bound by boat up an Amazon tributary.

SON KILLED WITH HATCHET

CA man arrested for killing son, 9, with hatchet

(Information in the following story is from: The Sacramento Bee, http://www.sacbee.com)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A Sacramento-area man has been arrested for allegedly killing his 9-year-old son in a hatchet attack.

Sacramento police say 36-year-old Phillip Raymond Hernandez was arrested on suspicion of homicide around noon Tuesday.

The Sacramento Bee reports officers arrived at the suspect's Natomas home after receiving two emergency calls. They found the boy was unresponsive and had suffered from blunt force trauma to the head. He was declared dead at the scene.

Officials say police set a perimeter around the neighborhood and soon found Hernandez, who was detained without trouble.

Police say Hernandez's 12-year-old son was also home but was not harmed. The victim's mother was out of California when he was killed.

In a press release, police said, "There is no explanation for Hernandez' unimaginable actions."

FRESNO POLICE LAWSUIT

Suit says Fresno police chief is a racist

(Information in the following story is from: The Fresno Bee, http://www.fresnobee.com)

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A black police captain is suing a California city, saying Fresno's police chief racially discriminated against him.

Capt. Al Maroney's lawsuit filed last week says police Chief Jerry Dyer reassigned him for lodging complaints beginning in 2007.

Maroney objected to being reassigned because of his son's medical needs and the time required for his new assignment. The suit says reassignment resulted in a loss of status and esteem among his peers.

The Fresno Bee says the chief sent Maroney to the predominantly black southwest Fresno area because, in the chief's words, he would be a "great blend."

Dyer says he's confident the city of Fresno will prevail.

SONOMA LAND DEAL

Deal protects Sonoma forest from vineyard project

(Information in the following story is from: The Santa Rosa Press Democrat, http://www.pressdemocrat.com)

ANNAPOLIS, Calif. (AP) — Conservation groups are hailing an agreement to buy and protect nearly 20,000 acres of timberland from expanding vineyards near the Sonoma County coast.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports the $24.5 million purchase of Preservation Ranch would shield the land from a controversial vineyard project pushed by the California Public Employees' Retirement System.

The land is being bought by The Conservation Fund, California Coastal Conservancy, Sonoma Land Trust and the county's Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District. The purchase is scheduled to be completed by late May.

The property is located near Annapolis in northwestern Sonoma County. It's home to second- and third-growth redwood and Douglas fir, oak woodlands and salmon and steelhead streams.

The newspaper says the deal would be the county's largest conservation purchase by acreage.

LAKE TAHOE-CLARITY

Tahoe's clarity best since 2002 at 75.3 feet

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Scientists at Lake Tahoe say continued improvement in the clarity of the mountain waters has convinced them that regulating land use and taking other steps to protect the lake are paying off.

Researchers at the UC Davis Environmental Research Center said Wednesday last year's clarity improved more than 6 feet from 2011, to an average depth of 75.3 feet.

That's the best it's been since 2002 when the white plate used to measure clarity was visible as deep as 78 feet.

Scientists say the alpine lake's azure waters were clear enough to see more than 100 feet down back in 1968 before development accelerated in the Tahoe Basin.

UC Davis researcher Geoffrey Schladow says there's growing belief in the scientific community that it's possible to manage Tahoe for clarity.

APPLE-SHAREHOLDERS

Apple CEO promises investors 'great stuff' to come

CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) — Apple CEO Tim Cook is assuring shareholders that the company is working on some "great stuff" that may help reverse a sharp decline in its stock price.

True to Apple's secretive nature, Cook didn't provide any further product details during the company's annual shareholders meeting Wednesday at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.

Apple's stock price has plunged by 36 percent since hitting its peak five months ago. The downturn has wiped out about $240 billion in shareholder wealth. That setback has escalated the pressure on Apple Inc. to consider distributing more of its $137 billion cash hoard to stockholders.

Cook told shareholders that Apple's board is still exploring what to do with the money. But he continued to play down a lawsuit filed by a dissident investor on that issue.

PLASTIC BAG BAN

San Carlos bans stores from offering plastic bags

SAN CARLOS, Calif. (AP) — San Carlos is set to become the latest California city to ban plastic carryout bags.

The San Carlos City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday to adopt an ordinance that bans stores from offering plastic bags starting July 1. Customers will have to pay 10 cents for each paper bag, a charge that increases to 25 cents in 2015.

Officials say the ordinance will reduce the number of plastic bags that pollute waterways and clog storm drains.

The San Mateo Daily News reports that 10 San Mateo County cities have already banned plastic bags and another eight cities are considering such bans.

Mayor Matt Grocott voted against it, citing potential health risks to people who don't wash their reusable bags.

The Redwood City council will consider a plastic-bag ban in March.