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Hero Down: Santa Cruz County Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller Murdered In Ambush

Santa Cruz Country Sheriff's Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller was killed in an ambush attack.

Ben Lomond, CA – Santa Cruz Country Sheriff’s Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller, 38, was murdered Saturday afternoon during an incident where two other law enforcement officers were injured.

The incident started after police received a call about a suspicious van in a turnout in Boulder Creek at around 1:30 p.m. Saturday, according to Santa Cruz Sentinel.

The caller told authorities that he could see guns and bomb making materials inside of the vehicle.

Deputies responded to the area and saw the van being driven away by a suspect later identified as Steven Carillo.

The deputies tried following the vehicle, and later located it at a home in Ben Lomond.

That’s when deputies were ambushed with gunfire and improvised explosive devices, according to Sheriff Jim Hart.

During the attack, Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller was fatally shot.

Another deputy was either shot or struck by shrapnel and then run down by the suspect’s car as the killer fled the area.

The wounded deputy has not been identified at this time, but is in critical condition, according to KSBW.

A California Highway Patrol officer was also shot in the hand during the incident.

Carillo fled the area and then attempted to carjack a man.

The carjacking victim initially turned over his keys, but then the victim attacked the carjacker as soon as he turned around, according to KRON4.

Officers responded to the area and Carillo was shot before being taken into custody. It’s not clear at this time if the suspect was shot by the carjacking victim or officers.

Not motive for Carillo’s attack has been released at this time. The FBI is investigating the incident.

Sergeant Gitzwiller worked for the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office since 2006. He leaves behind a pregnant wife and a young child.

“In my 32 year career this is the worst day that I have experienced,” Sheriff Hart told reporters, according to Santa Cruz Sentinel. “Today we lost one of our own, and he was a true hero.”

“I ask that the community be patient as we go through this investigation and the grieving process,” Hart said. “Damon will be deeply missed. By this community, by his family, and by all his coworkers here at the Sheriff’s Office. He was a beloved figure here at the Sheriff’s Office. His legacy will live on in the work and service that we provide to the Santa Cruz County community.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Santa Cruz Country Sheriff’s Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller, your life mattered.

Christopher Berg - June Sun, 2020

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