Former US Air Force sergeant pleads guilty to murder of deputy sheriff

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) — A former Air Force sergeant with ties to an extremist movement and convicted last month of the 2020 murder of a federal security officer in the San Francisco Bay Area pleaded guilty to murdering a sheriff sergeant a week after he attacked a federal building.

Steven Carrillo, 33, pleaded guilty Monday to all nine counts, including murder and special circumstances, of the murder of Santa Cruz County Sheriff Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller on June 6, 2020, the Santa Cruz District Attorney’s Office confirmed Tuesday. Carrillo will be sentenced on August 26 and can face life without parole.

Prosecutors said Carrillo ambushed sheriffs deputies in Santa Cruz County responding to a report of a van carrying firearms and bomb-making equipment. Gutzwiller, 38, was killed and several other law enforcement officers were injured.

Carrillo was arrested after he assaulted officials in Ben Lomond’s community.

Earlier this month, Carrillo was sentenced to 41 years in prison for killing David Patrick Underwood while he and a colleague guarded a federal building in Oakland during major protests against police brutality following the May 2020 murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

In February, Carrillo admitted to posting on Facebook the day before the Oakland shooting asking someone if they were “down to bow” and saying he was ready to act and not just talk. He also admitted to firing 19 shots with a homemade AR-15 rifle from the back of a white van driven by a man he interacted with online.

“I joined the anti-government movement and wanted to take violent action against federal law enforcement in particular,” Carrillo said at the time.

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. Experts say the group started out in an internet alt-right culture with the belief that there is an imminent American Civil War.

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