Even after the first killing, the Grizzly Scouts didn't turn Steven Carrillo in. They kept on planning future attacks.
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A San Francisco federal court judge on Tuesday threw out the guilty pleas for three members of an armed, anti-government militia who made plans to target law enforcement with Steven Carrillo.
All sides, in this case, were stunned by what happened in court and none of the attorneys would comment - the defense or the prosecution.
30-year-old Army veteran Jessie Rush of Turlock started the Grizzly Scouts in April 2020, and court documents show before long, he attracted at least 15 members to this off-shoot of the Boogaloo movement, whose members believe a civil war or uprising against the government is coming.
"A militia in and of itself is not necessarily illegal. It's what the militia does and it's how they act," said Glenn Norling who worked domestic terrorism cases exclusively for six years at the Sacramento FBI. He now trains law enforcement about threats from extremist groups.
Court records show the Grizzly Scouts used a Facebook account named "/K/alifornia Kommando" with the description -- "they say the west won't boog"... "were (sic) here to gather like-minded Californians who can network and establish local goon squads."
Dan Noyes: "What is it about the Boogaloo movement that they want to target police officers?"
Glenn Norling: "Yeah. And that's kind of one of the tenets, it's, it's the anti-government, it's the anti-law enforcement. 'We in law enforcement are attempting to take away their rights, and their privileges and things like that.' So law enforcement is just that representative face, that local face of the government."
One of the Grizzly Scouts? Steven Carrillo, an active-duty military police officer at Travis Air Force Base, planned to attack officers during this George Floyd protest in Oakland in May 2020 and discussed it with the group. Court documents show 24-year-old construction worker Simon Ybarra met Carrillo in his white van behind a Los Gatos gas station and helped him assemble an automatic rifle. Two days later, Carrillo fired from that van at the Oakland federal building, killing security officer Pat Underwood.
Even after that first killing, the Grizzly Scouts didn't turn Carrillo in. They kept on discussing and planning future attacks.
Dan Noyes: "No one raised a red flag, and called law enforcement and said, 'Look, it's gone too far. We've actually killed a law enforcement officer.' They didn't do that."
Glenn Norling: "No, no, not at all. It was this was this was a furthering of their cause. This is you know, what no holds barred. This is the beginning was, this is the beginning of the boog. This is why we've been training. This is what we've been training for. This is, this is serious."
In fact, 22-year-old Kenny Miksch of San Lorenzo messaged the group just one hour after the Oakland shooting, "And so it begins." And the following week, when Santa Cruz County Sheriff's deputies tracked Carrillo to his Ben Lomond home, court records show the Grizzly Scouts were supporting him through WhatsApp, listening to police radios, urging him to escape law enforcement.
During an ambush, Carrillo killed Sheriff's Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller, and after his arrest, prosecutors say Rush, Ybarra and Miksch destroyed Grizzly Scouts records and their communications with Carrillo. That's the crime for which they're now being prosecuted. The lawyers had worked out guilty pleas and sentences of 10 to twelve months, but Judge James Donato threw out the deal, saying, "They were dedicated exclusively and deliberately in a scheme to target and kill law enforcement officers," adding, "I haven't seen a case that is more of a threat to public safety."
None of the defendants or their lawyers would comment on the record Tuesday, except Grizzly Scouts leader Jessie Rush.
Dan Noyes: "Do you have any regrets about the death of Pat Underwood or Damon Gutwiller?"
Jessie Rush: "I do."
Dan Noyes: "What's that?"
Jessie Rush: "I sure do."
Dan Noyes: "You do have regrets? Want to tell me about that?"
Jessie Rush: "We'll talk later, dude."
This case is now set for trial in June. Another of the Grizzly Scouts has his sentencing in April. In addition to charges of conspiracy and obstruction, investigators say they found child porn on his computer -- that he enticed a 15-year-old girl to make and send dozens of photos and videos.
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