Alleged ‘Boogaloo’ extremist charged in killing of federal officer
An Air Force sergeant who was arrested in the fatal ambush of a Santa Cruz County deputy was charged Tuesday in connection with the killing of a federal security officer during George Floyd protests in Oakland last month, authorities said.
Staff Sgt. Steven Carrillo, 32, was charged with murder and attempted murder in the killing of federal officer Dave Patrick Underwood, 53.
Underwood was one of two officers who were shot May 29 while guarding the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building. The other officer was critically wounded in the drive-by attack. Both were members of Homeland Security's Federal Protective Service.
Authorities said Carrillo and a second man traveled to Oakland with the intent to kill police and believed the large demonstrations spurred by the death of Floyd in Minneapolis — which they were not a part of — would help them get away it.
"They came to Oakland to kill cops," said John Bennett, special agent in charge of the San Francisco division of the FBI.
Carrillo's alleged accomplice, Robert Justus, was also charged with murder and attempted murder.
The killing of Underwood set off a massive manhunt. Eight days later, officers showed up at Carrillo's home after they discovered an abandoned white van that belonged to him and contained ammunition, firearms and bomb-making equipment, authorities said.
Carrillo ambushed the officers, killing Santa Cruz County Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller and critically injuring another deputy, according to authorities.
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Carrillo suffered a gunshot wound but managed to flee the scene on feet, authorities said. He carjacked a vehicle but was ultimately taken into custody, bleeding from his hip, authorities said.
He was charged with multiple offenses, including murder and attempted murder, in the attack on the Santa Cruz County officers.
Federal authorities said an AR-15 was recovered at the scene where Carrillo was arrested and linked to the Oakland federal courthouse shooting. The assault rifle used by Carrillo was privately made, had no markings and had a silencer attached to the barrel of the weapon, authorities said.
Investigators found inside Carrillo's vehicle a ballistic vest with a patch on it that featured an igloo and a Hawaiian-style print — symbols associated with the far-right extremist "Boogaloo" movement, according to his federal complaint.
Carrillo, prior to his arrest, used his own blood to scrawl the word “boog” and “I became unreasonable” on the hood of the vehicle he carjacked, the complaint says. Both phrases are also associated with "Boogaloo," a term used by extremists to reference a violent uprising or impending civil war in the U.S., the complaint says.
Carrillo's lawyer Jeffrey Stotter said his client was a father of two who was "left deeply shaken" by his wife's death by suicide in 2018.
"At this point, all of these allegations are just that, accusations and allegations," Stotter said.
The complaint alleges Carrillo met Justus on Facebook, and that Justus gave him a ride to the rally in a white van.
According to the complaint, Carrillo wrote in a Facebook group on May 28 that the unrest is “on our coast now, this needs to be nationwide” and that “it’s a great opportunity to target the specialty soup bois."
In Boogaloo groups on Facebook and Reddit, “soup bois” is shorthand for government agencies that are abbreviated in acronyms like “alphabet soup" such as the FBI and ATF.
Online Boogaloo communities frequently post memes about targeting federal agencies in advance of another civil war.
In response to Carrillo’s message, the complaint alleges Justus wrote “let’s boogie,” another reference to the Boogaloo movement.
In Boogaloo Facebook groups, the complaint says, Carrillo was even more explicit about taking advantage of protests to stir up unrest and violence against police.
“Go to the riots and support our own cause. Show them the real targets. Use their anger to fuel our fire. Think outside the box. We have mobs of angry people to use to our advantage,” Carillo wrote in one Facebook group, according to the complaint.
Carrillo believed that the Boogaloo, or second civil war, was “kicking off now and if its not kicking off in your hood then start it,” according to the complaint.
Boogaloo groups are actively allowed on Facebook. Earlier this month, Facebook told NBC News it would stop recommending the groups in its recommendations algorithm, but the groups would be allowed on the site.
Andrew Blankstein is an investigative reporter for NBC News. He covers the Western United States, specializing in crime, courts and homeland security.