Boogaloo militia extremist Steven Carrillo gets life sentence for murdering Santa Cruz Co. Sheriff’s Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller
SANTA CRUZ — A former Air Force sergeant who was linked to an anti-government extremist movement and in 2020 attacked law enforcement officials amid protests over the killing of George Floyd has been sentenced to life in prison without parole in the killing of a Northern California sheriff’s sergeant.
Steven Carrillo, 33, pleaded guilty in June to all nine counts, including murder, for the killing of Santa Cruz County Sheriff Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller. Also in June, a federal judge sentenced Carrillo to 41 years in prison for killing David Patrick Underwood, a federal security agent who was attacked along with a colleague while guarding a federal building in Oakland.
Prosecutors said that on June 6, 2020, Carrillo ambushed sheriff’s deputies in Santa Cruz County who were responding to a report of a van containing firearms and bomb-making materials. Gutzwiller, 38, was killed and several other law enforcement officials were wounded.
Carrillo, of Santa Cruz, was arrested after he ambushed officials in the community of Ben Lomond.
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office posted a photo of Sgt. Gutzwiller’s handcuffs, saying in the caption they were used Friday to transport Carrillo to state prison.
Prosecutors said Carrillo, of Santa Cruz, had ties to the “boogaloo” movement, a concept embraced by a loose network of gun enthusiasts and militia-style extremists who connected online. Experts say the group started in alt-right culture on the internet with the belief that there is an impending U.S. civil war.
In February, Carrillo pleaded guilty to Underwood’s killing and admitted to posting messages on Facebook a day before the May 29, 2020, shooting in Oakland asking anyone if they were “down to boog” and saying he was ready to act and not just talk. He also admitted firing 19 rounds from a homemade AR-15 rifle from the back of a white van being driven by a man he connected with online.
“I aligned myself with the anti-government movement and wanted to carry out violent acts against federal law enforcement officers in particular,” Carrillo said then.
Carrillo fatally shot Underwood after opening fire on a guard shack as hundreds marched on the streets against police brutality following the May 2020 killing of Floyd, a Black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer.
In the California case, Robert Alvin Justus Jr., of Millbrae, drove the van, according to prosecutors. He faces federal charges of murder and attempted murder in the case.
A week after the shooting in Oakland, deputies arrested Carrillo shortly after he killed Gutzwiller.