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The California Air Force sergeant linked to an extremist movement who is accused of fatally ambushing deputies allegedly killed a federal law officer just one week earlier, authorities announced.
Steven Carrillo, 32, has already been charged with killing Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, who died when Carrillo allegedly ambushed a group of deputies with guns and bombs in Ben Lomond on June 6, the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office stated.
Another deputy was injured during the attack, before Carrillo escaped and allegedly attempted several carjackings in the area. Authorities tracked Carrillo down and shot and wounded him before taking him into custody.
Now, Carrillo has been charged with murder and attempted murder in connection with a different shooting, officials announced Tuesday. He allegedly killed Federal Protective Service officer Dave Underwood, 53, while Underwood watched over an Oakland federal courthouse on May 29 during one of the early days of the George Floyd protests, CBS San Francisco reported.
Carrillo was linked to the earlier crime scene by a white 1992 Ford Cargo van which was allegedly used during both shootings. An AR-15 rifle — which was self-built and recovered at the latter crime scene – was allegedly used in both attacks, according to CBS San Francisco.
Robert Alvin Justus Jr. of Millbrae, was also arrested in connection with the courthouse shooting. He was allegedly the driver of white van and has since turned himself into the FBI. He’s also allegedly turned over information on the case, according to CBS San Francisco.
“We believe Carrillo and Justus chose this date because of the planned protest in Oakland,” San Francisco FBI head Jack Bennett said at a Tuesday press conference. “It provided them to target multiple law enforcement personnel and to avoid apprehension due to the large crowds attending the demonstrations. [...] To be clear, Carrillo elected to travel to Oakland to conduct this murder and take advantage of a time when this nation was mourning the killing of George Floyd.”
A ballistic vest with an igloo patch and a Hawaiian-style print was also found in the van. Investigators believe it has ties to the extremist “Boogaloo” movement, according to a federal complaint obtained by NBC News. Just prior to being detained, Carrillo allegedly authored several messages in blood on a car, according to NBC News.
Authorities did not indicate when the messages were written or whose blood was used but Carrillo allegedly scrawled “boog” and “I became unreasonable” on the hood of the car, NBC News reported.
“I became unreasonable” is a reference to a quote written by anti-government extremist Marvin Heemeyer, who destroyed 13 buildings in Granby, Colorado in June 2004 via a heavily armored and modified bulldozer, NBC News reported. The incident — known as the “Killdozer” incident — resulted in Heemeyer taking his own life. He is reportedly revered in “Boogaloo” groups.
Carrillo considered himself to be a libertarian and his Facebook was full of memes about the “Boogaloo,” the Marin Independent Journal reported. His friend Justin Ehrhardt speculated to the Mercury News that police brutality during the protests may have set Carrillo off.
“Excessive use of force on unarmed civilians — that was a huge thing for him,” Ehrhardt, who served in the Air Force with Carrillo, said. “It was a mental tipping point for him.”
Carrillo has been charged with 19 felonies — including murder, attempted murder, explosives charges and carjacking charges in connection with the June 6 attack. Carrillo faces a possible death sentence if convicted.
Carrillo has been a member of a security squadron at Travis Air Force Base for two years. It isn't clear if Carrillo and Justus have attorneys able to comment on the charges.
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