On the morning of May 29, federal authorities say, as protests erupted nationwide over the police killing of George Floyd, a Travis Air Force Base staff sergeant and purported follower of the anti-government extremist Boogaloo movement sat at his computer at the Fairfield base plotting how to target law enforcement during the civil unrest.
“Go to the riots and support our own cause,” Steven Carrillo typed into a Facebook post, according to an FBI affidavit unsealed Tuesday. “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.”
Later that night, federal investigators say, as angry protesters marched through downtown Oakland streets in the city’s most chaotic night of police clashes, Carrillo took advantage of the distraction, spraying a guard shack outside the Oakland federal building with bullets from the open door of his van with his handmade assault rifle. Robert Alvin Justus Jr., a Millbrae man he’d met for the first time only hours before, drove the two away as an exhilarated Carrillo yelled, “Did you see how they f—ing fell!” according to the affidavit.
David Patrick Underwood, a 53-year-old federal security officer from Pinole, was shot dead. His colleague was seriously wounded. A week later, after someone reported his abandoned van to police, the 32-year-old Ben Lomond resident allegedly ambushed two Santa Cruz County deputies as they pulled up to his house on a remote, mountainous road. Carrillo is charged with killing Damon Gutzwiller, a 38-year-old sergeant, and wounding another deputy in that attack.
The harrowing details were revealed Tuesday as federal investigators unsealed criminal complaints filed against Carrillo and Justus, 30. On Thursday, Justus turned himself in to the FBI and admitted to driving the van used in the Oakland shooting.
Carrillo was charged with murder and attempted murder of a government employee. Justus was charged with aiding and abetting Carrillo. Both could face the death penalty.
Carrillo also faces a slew of state charges from the Ben Lomond shooting, including murder and attempted murder. His arraignment in the Santa Cruz County case was postponed, and he has yet to appear in federal court on the Oakland case. Carrillo is being held in Monterey County jail, and his attorney declined interview requests from The Chronicle.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Jack Bennett said the investigation continues and there could be further suspects.
“We’ve lost two law enforcement heroes this month,” Bennett said at a news conference Tuesday inside the Oakland federal building. “Their sacrifice won’t ever be forgotten.”
The shootings shed light on the relatively new fringe Boogaloo movement. In court records, the FBI said the term is used by extremists to “reference a violent uprising or impending civil war in the United States.” In the affidavit, the FBI wrote it’s not a defined group, but followers of the ideology “may identify as militia and share a narrative of inciting a violent uprising against perceived government tyranny.”
It’s unclear when Carrillo — who has served at Travis since 2018 in the 60th Security Forces Squadron, a military police unit — met Justus online. But in court records, FBI special agent Brett Woolard described alarming Facebook exchanges between the two in the days leading up to the Oakland shooting.
The day before the Oakland ambush, Carrillo posted a reaction to the massive protests cascading across the country.
“It’s on our coast now, this needs to be nationwide. It’s a great opportunity to target the specialty soup bois. Keep that energy going,” Carrillo wrote, including a link to a YouTube video showing a large crowd attacking two California Highway Patrol vehicles.
“Let’s boogie,” Justus replied, according to court records. A third individual communicated with the two on Facebook but was not identified by investigators Tuesday.
The FBI agent said “soup bois” is a term from the Boogaloo movement referring to federal law enforcement agents.
The next morning, Woolard wrote, Carrillo continued his online incitement, posting on Facebook: “Its kicking off now and if its not kicking off in your hood then start it. Show them the targets.”
By 5:30 p.m. May 29, Carrillo’s T-Mobile cell phone stopped pinging at Travis Air Force Base and showed him traveling west on Interstate 80 through Berkeley and to the San Leandro BART Station. At 8:09 p.m., the phone was either powered off or placed on airplane mode. The last person he contacted before turning off the phone was Justus, according to court records.
In his statement to FBI agents, Justus said Carrillo picked him up at BART and told him to remove the plates from his white 1992 Ford Econoline E-150 van.
Carrillo offered him body armor and a firearm, Justus said, but he declined. He said he drove the two to downtown Oakland, where they parked shortly before 9:30 p.m. directly across the street from Underwood’s security guard shack at 12th and Jefferson streets.
Justus exited the van for 10 minutes, surveying the area in what Woolard described as “reconnaissance.” In his FBI interview last week, Justus denied wanting to participate in the shooting, telling agents he felt trapped. Asked why he didn’t just leave as he walked outside the van, Justus said he wanted to talk Carrillo out of the plan. He told agents Carrillo spoke repeatedly about shooting a helicopter, police officers and civilians, according to court records.
Underwood and his partner, who worked for Triple Canopy Inc., a security service that contracts with the Federal Protective Service, were helpless targets as the van drove by and Carrillo opened fire, the affidavit said.
As they sped off, Justus said Carrillo was “excited and thrilled,” Woolard wrote. They reattached the license plate and drove to Millbrae, making sure to avoid bridges that could capture images of the van, the agent wrote. Justus destroyed his clothing and backpack, and erased his phone communications with Carrillo.
Bennett said there was no evidence either man was part of the nearby protests, but rather they hoped to avoid detection with the crowds.
“They came to Oakland to kill cops,” he said.
After spending the night in Millbrae, phone records indicate Carrillo traveled to Santa Cruz County early the next morning.
The following week, Carrillo posted numerous Facebook messages criticizing police responses to protests across the country, according to screenshots obtained by The Chronicle. The FBI says Carrillo used white spray paint to disguise the window on the sliding door of his van and replaced a missing hubcap.
On June 5, the FBI released surveillance photos of a white van they believed was involved in Underwood’s shooting.
The next afternoon, Santa Cruz County sheriff’s deputies received a call about a suspicious white van abandoned off Jamison Creek Road, on land controlled by a water company. The caller reported seeing ammunition, firearms and bomb-making equipment inside.
Around 2:30 p.m., deputies drove up a narrow, twisting road through the Santa Cruz Mountains and arrived at Carrillo’s house, where he opened fire and tossed homemade bombs, investigators said. As he fled, his hip bleeding from a gunshot wound, he carjacked a white Toyota Camry. Investigators found the car nearby with Boogaloo-associated words and phrases scrawled in Carrillo’s blood on the hood: “BOOG,” “I became unreasonable” and “stop the duopoly.”
Inside a second van of Carrillo’s found at his house, investigators found a bulletproof vest that included a Boogaloo-inspired patch, modeled after an American flag but with an igloo instead of stars and a stripe that included a Hawaiian design.
Carrillo, who stands 5-foot-3 and weighs 140 pounds, attempted to carjack a number of other motorists along Highway 9 before a resident wrestled away his assault rifle and other weapons and pinned him to the ground, the Santa Cruz County sheriff said. He was arrested at about 3:40 p.m.
Investigators from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined that an AR-15-style rifle among Carrillo’s possessions was privately made, or a “ghost gun” with no manufacturer markings or serial number, and was fitted with a silencer. A search warrant at his Ben Lomond house found 9mm shell casings matching the same brand and caliber as those used in the Oakland shooting.
Once investigators obtained Carrillo’s phone records, they quickly focused on Justus and began surveilling him. As they were building a case, investigators followed him Thursday as he drove with his parents to the San Francisco federal building and walked up to the security checkpoint. Justus’ mother told an FBI agent they wanted to provide information about a white van in Oakland.
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