The Air Force staff sergeant suspected of killing a Santa Cruz sheriff's deputy last Saturday and wounding another, as well as fatally shooting a federal security officer in Oakland on May 29, had been ranting on social media and making references to an extremist group that espouses anti-government, anti-law-enforcement views.
32-year-old Steven Carrillo is being arraigned today in Santa Cruz Superior Court, and on Thursday he was formally charged with murder, lying it wait, attempted murder, and multiple other charges and enhancements. He faces life in prison for the killing of 38-year-old Santa Cruz Sheriff's Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller.
According to court documents, per the Mercury News, Carrillo had recently been posting libertarian, anti-law-enforcement rhetoric on social media, and he seemed to have a particular vendetta against law enforcement in general. According to a former friend and fellow Air Force officer, Justin Ehrhardt, Carrillo specifically had aligned himself with the so-called "Boogaloo" movement, a far-right, citizen militia group composed partly of current and former military people who believe that an armed conflict with the government is on the horizon. And Ehrhardt speculated further that watching police use of force against unarmed demonstrators on the news during the week of George Floyd's death may have finally pushed Carrillo over the edge.
Federal prosecutors reportedly believe that Carrillo was also responsible for a shooting in Oakland on the night of May 29, during the height of protest activity there — though the targets were two Homeland Security officers stationed outside the federal building in downtown Oakland who had nothing to do with the quelling of protests by police a few blocks away. 53-year-old David Patrick Underwood of Pinole was killed in that shooting.
Underwood, who was black and the sibling of Southern California congressional candidate Angela Underwood-Jacobs, was working as a federal security officer, and the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement calling the shooter an "assassin," and characterizing the act as "domestic terrorism."
Underwood-Jacobs, who is a Republican, complicated the political lines in the current national unrest in testimony earlier this week before the House Judiciary Committee. She spoke out against police brutality and the death of Floyd, but went on to condemn calls for defuning the police. And she said, it is "blatantly wrong to create an excuse out of discrimination and disparity, to loot and burn our communities, to kill our officers of the law."
“My brother wore a uniform," she said, "and he wore that uniform proudly. I’m wondering, where is the outrage for a fallen officer that also happens to be African American?"
Federal charges against Carrillo in the killing of Underwood and the wounding of another officer are expected to be filed in the coming days, but federal prosecutors have yet to confirm that Carrillo is a suspect in the shooting.
The only information that was publicly released in the case, along with a surveillance image, was that the shooter fired shots out of a white cargo van like the one that Carrillo owned, and like the one he ambushed the Santa Cruz officers with last Saturday.
Carrillo, who was stationed at Travis Air Force Base, was living with his father in Ben Lomond, where officers confronted him. They were responding to a call from a resident who said they had seen explosives and weaponry inside Carrillo's van.
Carrillo was heard by witnesses after the shooting, before he was detained, talking about being "tired of the duality." He scrawled a similar message (using the word "duopoly," possibly in reference to the two-party system) in blood on a vehicle before his arrest. He also wrote the word "boog," and the phrase, "I became unreasonable," which is a meme used by the Boogaloo group, referring to anti-government icon Marvin Heemeyer.