Oakland, CA – The suspect accused of murdering a federal security officer and a Santa Cruz County deputy in two separate attacks has been charged with murder in both cases.
U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Steven Carrillo, 32, has also been charged for the attempted murder of a second federal security officer, NBC News reported.
His alleged accomplice, Robert Justus, has been charged with murder and attempted murder in connection with the same attacks.
Investigators said they believe Carrillo is a “Boogaloo” extremist who traveled to the anti-police riots in Oakland with the intent of assassinating law enforcement officers, NBC News reported.
Anti-government extremists use the “boogaloo” term to refer to impending U.S. civil war or a violent uprising, according to NBC News.
Carrillo and Justus allegedly believed that the chaos that erupted in the city in the wake of the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis would make it difficult for them to be identified or apprehended, police said.
“They came to Oakland to kill cops,” Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge of the San Francisco Division John Bennett said.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Federal Protective Services Officer Dave Patrick Underwood, 53, was protecting the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building on Clay Street on May 29 when a vehicle approached the intersection at approximately 9:45 p.m., The Mercury News reported.
A gunman inside the vehicle opened fire on the contract security officers, wounding Officer Underwood and a second officer who were guarding the courthouse.
Officer Underwood was killed in the ambush, and his colleague was critically wounded, NBC News reported.
— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) June 11, 2020
DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said that the attack was nothing less than an assassination, according to WLS.
“An assassin cowardly shot two federal protective contractors as they stood watch over a protest,” Wolf said at the time.
Acting DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli said that the attack on the officers qualified as an “act of domestic terrorism.”
“Let me be clear, when someone targets a police officer or a police station with the intention to do harm and intimidate, that is an act of domestic terrorism,” Cuccinelli said, according to WLS.
The killers sped off, leading to a massive eight-day manhunt.
At approximately 1:30 p.m. on June 6, Santa Cruz police received a call about a suspicious van in a turnout in Boulder Creek, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported.
The caller told authorities that he could see guns and bomb-making materials inside of the vehicle.
Deputies responded to the area and found firearms, ammunition, and bomb-making materials inside the abandoned white van, NBC News reported.
The vehicle was registered to Carrillo, according to police.
Carrillo allegedly ambushed officers with improvised explosive devices and gunfire when they arrived at his home, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller was fatally wounded in the attack.
The 14-year veteran-of-the-force leaves behind his pregnant wife and a young child, according to KRON.
We join our partners at the @SantaCruzSO1 in mourning the tragic death of Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller who killed in an apparent ambush style attack earlier today. Our thoughts are with his family and fellow deputies tonight. pic.twitter.com/U7VrpgRE29
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) June 7, 2020
A second deputy was critically injured, and a California Highway Patrol trooper suffered a gunshot wound to the hand, KSBW reported.
Despite having been shot in the hip, Carrillo managed to escape on foot and carjacked a vehicle before he was taken into custody, according to NBC News.
He was found in possession of an AR-15, which has since been connected to the shooting that left Officer Underwood dead and his fellow contract officer wounded.
Carrillo allegedly used his own blood to write “boog” and “I became unreasonable” on the hood of the carjacked vehicle before he was apprehended, NBC News reported.
Investigators said they found a ballistic vest with other “boogaloo” symbols on it when they searched Carrillo’s abandoned van.
Carrillo and Justus also made numerous social media posts referencing the boogaloo, according to investigators.
“At this point, all of these allegations are just that, accusations and allegations,” Carrillo’s attorney, Jeffrey Stotter, told NBC News.
He said that the alleged killer, a father of two, was “left deeply shaken” after his wife committed suicide two years ago.
“There is more to Mr. Carrillo than the picture painted by law enforcement,” Stotter told CNN.
Carrillo faces a possible death penalty if he is convicted of the charges against him.
Carrillo was stationed at Travis Air Force Base in Solano County, and was an active-duty staff sergeant at the time of the alleged attacks, CNN reported.
Stotter claimed that allegations regarding Carrillo’s alliance with the “Boogaloo” movement should actually be focused on how easily extremists are able to influence “vulnerable” people on social media.
“What this suggests and highlights is a larger conversation that maybe needs to happen about the impact and influence of groups with extremist ideologies that seem to flourish on social media and on the internet as a whole,” he asserted.
“These groups are not based in Iraq or Syria, they are based in America – they reach out to radicalize vulnerable individuals, whether they be servicemen or otherwise vulnerable adults,” Stotter added.