Santa Cruz Deputy Chief Steve Clark says that police discovered an authentic Purple Heart medal pinned to a small teddy bear on Thursday.
Officials say the medal was left by an unidentified soldier who "earned it while risking their life and being wounded in battle while defending our freedom."
An anonymous message explained the gift. It reads, "The teddy bear reflects the love of our community for the police and all the work they endure during their shifts, the red ribbon reflects the precious blood shed in the line of duty, Purple Heart is for the sacrifice above and beyond the call of duty, when one loses their life for the protection of others and the greater good. I know you will understand."
The medal was a tribute left in response to the murders on Tuesday of Santa Cruz Detective Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker and Officer Elizabeth Butler.
Baker, 51, and Butler, 38, were allegedly shot to death by a criminal suspect, Jeremy Goulet, 35, while trying to interview him about a misdemeanor sexual assault in Santa Cruz. Goulet was later gunned down in a shootout with police.
Clark said the heroism and courage represented by the medal were "deeply understood" by the members of the department.
"The words escape us to adequately describe how honored we are that you would choose these officers to offer this gift," Clark said. "We retrieved the medal and will store it safe for our officers' families. Whoever you are, we know you are a sentry watching over our City, State and Country... and you too are worthy of honor."
Thousands are expected to attend a public memorial service honoring Baker and Butler. The ceremony will be held at HP Pavillion in San Jose beginning at 12 p.m. ABC7 News will carry the memorial on air and online.
A Butch Baker and Elizabeth Butler Scholarship Fund has been established. Donations can be made through the Santa Cruz city website.
(ABC7 News contributed to this report)