Defendants allegedly opened fire on unsuspecting officers guarding courthouse at federal building as public demonstrations continued only blocks away; one also killed Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Sergeant during arrest attempt.
OAKLAND – At a press conference held Tuesday morning, June 16, 2020, at the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building and United States Courthouse in Oakland, the Department of Justice announced that murder and attempted murder charges have been filed against Steven Carrillo, the alleged gunman in the May 29, 2020, drive-by shooting that resulted in the death of 53-year-old Protective Security Officer David Patrick Underwood of Pinole, CA and injuries to a second security officer. The Department of Justice also announced aiding and abetting charges against Robert Alvin Justus, Jr., the driver of the vehicle from which Carrillo is alleged to have attacked the guards.
“Pat Underwood was murdered because he wore a uniform,” said U.S. Attorney David Anderson, “but he was much more than just the uniform he wore. Pat Underwood was a brother, a father, and a son. Many, many people will miss hearing the sound of his voice and laughter. Pat Underwood wore his uniform because it signified his authority to protect the courthouse where we are gathered here today. This courthouse exists to administer justice, to uphold the rule of law, and to protect the freedoms that we all cherish. In announcing today’s charges, we are reaffirming our determination to protect those who protect us.”
“Liberty flourishes in the rule of law,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “Indiscriminate targeting of law enforcement officers by those motivated by violent extremism of any stripe is contrary to our nation’s values and undermines the powerful message of peaceful protestors. The Department of Justice stands in support of all Americans exercising their First Amendment rights to peaceable assembly and speech, but we stand firmly against anyone who seeks to hijack the protests with acts of violence and destruction.”
“I applaud the agents and officers who investigated and captured those responsible for the attack on Federal Protective Service officers resulting in the death of Officer Underwood and serious injury of his partner,” said Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf. “As the nation’s largest law enforcement organization, the Department’s top priority is protecting the American people and our workforce, and we are not going to rest until these criminals are brought to justice. The assassination and injury of federal officers who swore an oath to protect the American public will not be tolerated. The Department of Homeland Security will continue its mission to end violent extremism in any form.”
“These arrests are an important step for our community, the families of those who were killed in the line of duty, and our law enforcement partners, so that we may begin the healing process,” said FBI San Francisco Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett. “While we cannot bring Officer Pat Underwood and Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller back, we can hold those responsible for taking them from us accountable.”
The charges against 32-year-old Carrillo and 30-year-old Justus were brought in two criminal complaints, one filed against each defendant. According to the complaints, at approximately 9:27 p.m., on May 29, 2020, a white Ford Econoline-style van parked directly across the street from the federal building in Oakland on Jefferson Street. The van was parked facing the guard post where Officer Underwood and his partner that evening stood guard to protect the building. The van was on the southeast corner in the spot closest to the intersection with an unobstructed view of the guard post. Shortly after the van parked, a man emerged from the driver’s seat and walked around the area conducting reconnaissance for approximately ten minutes. Then, at approximately 9:43 p.m., the exterior lights of the van turned on and the van moved north on Jefferson Street toward the guard post. The passenger-side sliding door opened, and Carrillo allegedly fired multiple rounds from a firearm toward the guard post, killing Officer Underwood and injuring his partner.
The incident set off an eight-day manhunt that came to a crescendo after a witness reported an abandoned white Ford van in Ben Lomond, Calif. The van reportedly contained what appeared to be ammunition, firearms, and bomb-making equipment and an effort apparently was made to alter the van’s appearance with spray paint and a wheel covering to disguise a missing hubcap. Nevertheless, evidence from the van led deputies from the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office to Carrillo’s residence in Ben Lomond. There, Carrillo allegedly opened fire on the deputies when they arrived at his property, killing one deputy, 38-year-old Santa Cruz sheriff’s Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller (whose funeral was held, today, Wed., June 17, 2020), and injuring a second. During the attack there was also an explosion on the property.
The complaints describe a subsequent odyssey during which Carrillo was shot and fled the scene initially on foot, and then by carjacking a vehicle on a nearby highway. The chase came to an end when, bleeding from his hip, Carrillo was taken into custody.
Additional items were recovered at Carrillo’s Ben Lomond residence included an AR-15-style short-barreled rifle fitted with a binary trigger that fired one round of 9mm ammunition at the pull of the trigger and another round at the release of the trigger. The rifle was fitted with a silencer that suppressed the sound of gunfire from the rifle. In addition, Carrillo appears to have used his own blood to write various phrases on the hood of the car that he carjacked. The phrases relate to an extremist ideology that promotes inciting a violent uprising through use of militias.
Cell phone records from Carrillo’s phone identified Justus as a person with whom Carrillo may have been communicating in the days leading up to the drive-by shooting attack in Oakland. On June 11, while the FBI had Justus under surveillance, travelled to the Federal Building in San Francisco, met with the FBI, and was thereafter arrested for his involvement in the shooting, including his role as the driver of the vehicle.
According to an ABC7 News report, Carillo was an active duty Air Force police officer at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield at the time of the shooting.
According to a KPIX5 news report, “Carrillo is also a suspect in the June 6 murder of Santa Cruz sheriff’s Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, authorities said. At the time of the attacks Carrillo was an active-duty staff sergeant stationed at Travis Air Force Base. The FBI believes both men are associated with the Boogaloo movement, which federal officials say is not a defined group, but rather the ideology of heavily armed extremists who want to fight back against perceived government tyranny.”
The charges contained in the criminal complaints are allegations only. Carrillo and Justus are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
“ATF immediately responded to these shooting incidents to make available our personnel to support our partners with the investigations into these crimes,” said Special Agent in Charge Patrick Gorman, San Francisco Field Division, ATF. “ATF provided investigative and forensic support throughout the investigation into these crimes. This included local special agents, as well as, laboratory and firearms enforcement officer resources from the greater Washington, DC area. ATF personnel examined firearm evidence and utilized our National Integrated Ballistic Information Network or NIBIN. The complaints describe the work ATF personnel performed to uncover the purported similarities between the recovered fired cartridge cases found at the Oakland and Ben Lomond homicides. These senseless crimes, which resulted in the tragic loss of Patrick and Damon and caused serious injuries to others, should not have occurred. ATF will continue to make available our resources and support to our partners throughout this investigation.”
Carrillo is charged with one count of murder of a person assisting an officer or employee of the United States Government, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1114(1) and 1114(3) and one count of attempted murder under the same statutes. If convicted of the murder charge, the maximum statutory penalty for this charge is death. If convicted of the attempted murder charge, Carrillo faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and restitution. Justus is charged with aiding and abetting the murder and attempted murder and faces the same maximum statutory penalties. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Justus made his initial appearance Monday, June 15, 2020, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler, and was detained for further proceedings. His next appearance is scheduled for Friday, 10:30 am, before Magistrate Judge Kandis A. Westmore for identification of counsel and additional proceedings. An initial federal court appearance has not yet been scheduled for Carrillo.
The case is being prosecuted by United States Attorney for the Northern District of California David Anderson and the Oakland Branch of the Office of the United States Attorney with assistance from George Kraehe of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. The case is being investigated by the FBI, the ATF, the FPS, and the U.S. Marshal Service with assistance from the Oakland Police Department and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.