The FBI is now exploring a connection between the murder of California Highway Patrol officer Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, murdered by active-duty U.S. Air Force sergeant Steven Carrillo, to the May 29 killing of Federal Protective Services Officer Dave Patrick Underwood in Oakland.
Carrillo, 32, was taken into custody on Saturday after he was wounded in a shootout with law enforcement officers in the wake of the ambush killing of Gutzwiller, 38-year-old Northern California sheriff’s deputy.
Carrillo was captured in the Santa Cruz Mountains, about 35 miles west of San Jose, officials said.
“In my 32-year career, this is my worst day I’ve ever experienced,” Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart said at a news conference on Saturday evening. “Today we lost one of our own and he was a true hero.”
Now Federal authorities are connecting Carrillo to a deadly ambush in Santa Cruz County on May 29, the murder of Underwood during a George Floyd protest.
Underwood, 53, was guarding the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building during rallies in the greater Bay Area, when he when he was shot to death while standing outside the building.
The FBI released security photos of a white cargo van without license plates racing away from the scene of the shooting. The FBI warned that the “occupants of the van should be considered armed and dangerous” and now believe this was Carrillo.
Hart explained that a 911 call at 1:30 p.m. reported seeing guns and bomb-making material inside a suspicious white van parked off the road in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Gutzwiller and other sheriff’s deputies arrived at the scene just as the van was pulling away. As they followed the van to a house in Ben Lomond and ultimately approached van, they were met with gunfire and multiple improvised explosives,” Hart explained.
Another deputy was injured and was hit by a vehicle as the suspect drove out of the driveway of the home, he said.
Hart said a California Highway Patrol officer was also shot in the hand during the ordeal.
Carrillo was taken to a local hospital where he was treated and released to the custody of sheriff’s deputies.
The FBI and the Santa Cruz District Attorney’s Office are investigating the incident.
Hart said Carillo was arrested on charges of murder, assault with a deadly weapon, carjacking “and a myriad of other charges.”
“There’s a lot that we don’t know at this point. It’s still a very fluid situation,” Hart said. “I ask that the community be patient as we go through this investigation and the grieving process.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom and his wife, Jennifer, released a statement expressing their shock and dismay over the killing of Gutzwiller.
“Jennifer and I extend our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and coworkers of Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller, who was tragically killed while on duty,” the governor’s statement reads. “He will be remembered as a hero who devoted his life to protecting the community and as a loving husband and father.”