I-TEAM: Air Force sergeant arrested on suspicion for killing of deputy in Santa Cruz County

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Monday, June 8, 2020
FBI investigates possible link between Santa Cruz Co., Oakland shootings
The ABC7 I-Team has new information about the suspect in the death of Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller. Here's what we know about 32-year-old Steven Carrillo:

BEN LOMOND, Calif. (KGO) -- The ABC7 I-Team has new information about the suspect in the death of 38-year-old Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller.

The Sheriff's Department identified the suspect as 32-year-old Steven Carrillo of Ben Lomond.

The FBI is investigating whether Carrillo is also responsible for the shooting at the Oakland Federal Building that killed security officer Pat Underwood and injured his partner on May 29th. Security cameras caught this white van as the side door opened and gunfire erupted.

Saturday's incident began when someone spotted Carrillo in a white van with weapons and bomb-making materials. Sheriff's deputies followed the van back to his Ben Lomond house, where authorities say he ambushed officers, firing on them and throwing explosives, killing Sgt. Gutzwiller. He bolted in a white sedan, hitting another officer. A female deputy was on the radio when that happened; you can hear her scream.

RELATED: FBI investigates possible link between deadly officer shootings in Santa Cruz Co., Oakland

Shortly after his arrest, Carrillo may have revealed a motive for the attack.

During his arrest, Steven Carrillo shouted at officers, "This is what I came here to fight. I'm sick of these goddamn police."

He gets garbled, but then mentions police "use of force".

Carrillo yelled, "Listen!"

The I-Team has confirmed Carrillo is an active duty military police officer, a staff sergeant assigned to the 60th Security Forces Squadron out of Travis Air Force Base. Carrillo entered the Air Force in Feb. 2009 after completing basic training and security force training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. He worked as a recruiter in Brentwood before going to Travis Air Force Base in 2018, according to an Air Force spokesperson.

An Air Force spokesperson also notes Carrillo completed Pheonix Raven training which includes cross-cultural awareness, legal considerations, embassy operations, airfield survey techniques, explosive ordnance awareness, aircraft searches, and unarmed self-defense. He was deployed to Kuwait for four months in 2019 and received the Air Force Achievement Medal for that deployment (medal not just for assignment completion, have to meet a level of performance to receive).

His former colleagues are baffled that, in effect, a cop would target cops.

His friend, Justin Ehrhardt, is a retired Air Force military police officer. "It just breaks my heart, the officers who were impacted and their families, we're supposed to be on the same side."

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Ehrhardt told us he spoke with Carrillo just a month ago, about his plans to retire from the service. "He was looking forward to getting out of California, but there was nothing even brought up in a negative light bout anything with police at all."

Carrillo's Facebook page has been taken down, but I captured his profile picture that lists him as Libertarian, and his friends have been sending me screenshots from the past month. It's clear Carrillo was growing increasingly upset about police excessive force. June 5th, he wrote, "Who need antifa to start riots when you have the police to do it for you..."

Just minutes before yesterday's killing, he posted this from the Holocaust Museum - "the early warning signs of Fascism".

On his Facebook page on May 31, Carrillo reposted a meme that said, "I'll never let racist white people make me forget about the dope white people I know exist. I love y'all." The post includes fist emojis of different skin tones, and both of the "whites" in the meme were crossed out. Carrillo wrote, "The only race that matters, the human race.

Justin Ehrhardt tells us, Carrillo was also having a hard time with his wife's suicide in 2018. She was an Air Force Airman 1st Class, found dead in an off-base hotel in South Carolina.

"A lot of regret, I think was there and it was just challenging for him. But even with all that none of us the people I talked to who were stationed with him even once thought this would happen at all."

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