Air Force sergeant charged in drive-by shooting of federal officers

Air Force sergeant charged in drive-by shooting of federal officers
© Greg Nash

Federal prosecutors on Tuesday charged an Air Force sergeant with murder and attempted murder in connection with the killing of a federal security officer last month in downtown Oakland, Calif.

Staff Sgt. Steven Carrillo, who was also charged last week with killing a Santa Cruz County sheriff's deputy, is charged with the fatal drive-by shooting of 53-year-old federal security officer David Patrick Underwood in Oakland on May 29. Another officer was injured in the shooting.

Federal officials claimed Carrillo was associated with the far-right “Boogaloo” movement, which believes a second American civil war is imminent, and took advantage of an unrelated Black Lives Matter protest in the city on the same day as a cover for the killing.

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John Bennett, the FBI special agent in charge from San Francisco, said Carrillo and an alleged accomplice, Robert Alvin Justus Jr., “came to Oakland to kill cops.”

"We believe Carrillo and Justice [chose] this date, because the planned protest in Oakland, provided an opportunity for them to target multiple law enforcement personnel and avoid apprehension to the large crowds attending the demonstrations, as described in detail in the complaint," Bennett said, according to a local ABC affiliate.

Prosecutors said the two exchanged messages that day planning to attack federal law enforcement, with Carrillo later writing terms associated with the movement in his own blood in a car he allegedly stole. Carrillo allegedly shot Underwood from the door of a white van while the officer was guarding Oakland’s Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building during protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Justus, who allegedly drove the vehicle Carrillo is accused of using in the attack, was charged with aiding and abetting.

Carrillo was separately charged last week with killing Santa Cruz County Sheriff Deputy Damon Gutzwiller on June 6.

"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," Bennett said in a statement Tuesday. "While we cannot bring Officer Pat Underwood and Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller back, we can hold those responsible for taking them from us accountable.”

The announcement comes less than two weeks after three men allegedly associated with the far-right Boogaloo movement were charged in Las Vegas with plotting acts of terror at protests, with prosecutors saying they originally planned to set fire to a power substation and incite a riot while law enforcement was preoccupied, before ultimately deciding to make Molotov cocktails and take them to the protest.