Suspected cop killer in Santa Cruz County also charged with murdering federal officer in Oakland

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Two charged in fatal shooting of Federal Protective Services officers in Oakland
Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office booking photo of Steven Carrillo, along with surveillance image of the white van involved in the Oakland shootings on May 29, 2020, courtesy of the FBI.

The man suspected of killing a deputy in Santa Cruz County on June 6 has also been charged with the May 29 ambush shooting on Federal Protective Service officers in Oakland that killed David Patrick Underwood, a Pinole resident, and injured one of his colleagues, authorities announced Tuesday.

Steven Carrillo, an active-duty U.S. Air Force sergeant, is charged as the alleged shooter while Robert Alvin Justus Jr., a Millbrae resident, is charged as the accomplice and driver the night of the shooting.

Evidence suggests Carrillo and Justus were not in Oakland to join the protests calling for justice for the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. Rather, the suspects had planned their attack to coincide with the demonstration in order to avoid apprehension, according to the FBI.

“They came to Oakland to kill cops,” said John Bennett, special agent in charge of the San Francisco Division of the FBI.

Other evidence uncovered during the course of the investigation suggests Carrillo supported the Boogaloo movement, described as a far-right extremist ideology whose followers have been planning for a second American Civil War.

Carrillo and Justus drove up to the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building in Oakland at about 9:45 p.m. on May 29 in a white van, according to U.S. Attorney David Anderson, citing a federal complaint. Carrillo allegedly opened fire from the van, striking Underwood and his colleague who had been guarding the building, authorities said.

Surveillance footage in the area of the shooting captured the van. Then on June 6, a citizen witness in the town of Ben Lomond in Santa Cruz County reported a suspicion van with weapons and bomb making materials inside, Anderson said. Evidence from that van led Santa Cruz County deputies to Carrillo’s home in Ben Lomond. There, Carrillo fired upon the deputies in an ambush, killing Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller and injuring another officer.

Carrillo fled, first on foot and later by carjacking, but was eventually taken into custody.

The FBI had begun surveillance on Justus after discovering phone and text communications with Carrillo. On June 11, Justus turned himself in along with evidence of his involvement in the shooting, according to the FBI. Carrillo was charged in state court on June 15 with the murders and attempted murders.

The investigation uncovered that Carrillo used an AR-15-style rifle equipped with a silencer in the Oakland shooting. The machine gun was privately-made with no markings or serial numbers, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) determined.

A federal complaint also cites a ballistics vest recovered from the van as among the evidence pointing to the possible motive. The vest had a patch with an American-style flag with stripes like an American flag, but there were notable differences. On this altered flag, where there are normally stars, there was a picture of an igloo. One of the stripes on that same flag was a Hawaiian-style motif, Anderson said. Additionally, Carrillo appears to have used his own blood to write phrases on one of the cars that he carjacked.

“The complaint alleges that the patch and the phrases written by Carrillo are associated with the so-called Boogaloo movement,” Anderson said. “The Boogaloo term is used by extremists to reference a violent uprising or impending Civil War in the United States.”

Speaking from the federal courthouse that Underwood helped to protect, top law enforcement officials remembered Underwood as a friendly presence who will be greatly missed.

“Pat Underwood was murdered because he wore a uniform,” the U.S. Attorney said. “He wore that uniform to signify his authority to protect the federal courthouse where we are gathered here today. This courthouse exists to administer justice, to uphold the rule of law and to protect the freedoms we all cherish.”

Underwood was “more than the uniform he wore,” Anderson added.

“Pat Underwood was a brother, a father, a son. He was a friend and a neighbor. There are many many people who will miss the sound of his laughter and the sound of his voice,” Anderson said.

A public memorial for Underwood is planned for this coming Friday at the Pinole Valley High School Theatre. Click here for more details. An online fundraiser has also been launched by the supervisor of the federal officers to support their families. To donate, click here.

1 COMMENT

  1. This is so sad, but, it is similar to the two terrorists caught in the Boston Bombing where one brother wrote a message in his own blood in a boat that he was trying to use for escape. I think some may be identifying with the destruction of symbols and statues that have long been a part of America. Removal of such symbols that have been believed for centuries, should be done with careful thought with each removal. The, now infamous, ”knee and neck” might be symbolic flesh and blood much like the concrete or asphalt that the men lie upon. ”upon this rock, I will build my church”. Today, it may not be easy to tell the difference in ”hard rock” and ”soft rock” when tearing down and building, again. In any case, God loves with a love that is ”of him, by him and for him”. None of us can escape it. Handle with care is good advice. And then, too, there are those among us that would rather die in America than to live somewhere else and resort to such destruction as it is with such terrorism today. One brother involved in the Boston Bombing was buried on American soil and the other is serving time in American prisons at this time. Someone saw to it that the recently slain, George Floyd, was laid beside his mother in burial. Terrorism hurts everybody. The only option is to get rid of the terror before the terror gets rid of you, as in oil and water do not mix. There was terror before the pandemic and there is terror at this time during the pandemic and none of us are really well.

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