BEN LOMOND (CBS SF/AP) — Steven Carrillo, the alleged gunman who ambushed and killed a Santa Cruz sheriff deputy and wounded two other law enforcement officers, was a staff sergeant assigned to Travis Air Force base and may have a connection to the slaying of a Federal Security officer killed in Oakland during a night of violence related to the death of George Floyd.
The FBI said Sunday it was investigating a connection between Carrillo’s white van and a similar vehicle that may have been used in the fatal shooting of federal protective services officer David Underwood and the wounding of a second officer on May 29 during a night of unrest last week when an Oakland protest over the death of George Floyd turned violent.
“The investigation into the incident in Ben Lomond, Calif. is ongoing,” the FBI said in a statement. “We are working with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department to determine a possible motive and/or links to other crimes committed in the Bay Area, to include the shooting of the FPS officers in Oakland.”
FBI investigators were among the law enforcement officials at Ben Lomond crime scene Saturday night.
Ken Cuccinelli, acting deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, called the Oakland shooting an “act of domestic terrorism.”
Carrillo has been stationed at Travis since 2018 and was member of the 60th Security Forces Squadron, a base spokesman said. He will be charged with first-degree murder.
Carrillo’s wife Monika Leigh Scott Carrillo, who was also in the Air Force, was found dead in an off-base hotel in May 2018 while she was stationed in South Carolina. She was 30. Her death was investigated by the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, in coordination with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and ruled a suicide, according to the Air Force.
Investigators were still trying to determine the circumstances behind the ambush of the two deputies with gunfire and improvised explosives.
Meanwhile, deputies were set to gather Sunday at 2:26 p.m. at Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office headquarters for a memorial vigil for 38-year-old Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller. Sheriff Jim Hart chose 2:26 p.m. because that was when his agency got the first call of an officer down during a violent confrontation between Gutzwiller, another deputy and Carrillo.
At a Saturday-night news conference, a grief-stricken Hart said his agency received a 911 call at 1:30 p.m. of a suspicious white van parked off the road near Jamison Creek near Ben Lomond in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
“The caller saw guns and bomb-making materials inside the van,” he said.
Gutzwiller and another deputy responded and saw the van driving away. They tracked it to a home in Ben Lomond. When they got out of their vehicles they “were ambushed with gunfire and improvised explosive devices.” At 2:36 p.m. a call went out reporting an officer down.
“Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller was shot and taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead,” Hart said. “Another deputy was either shot or struck by shrapnel and struck by a car as the suspect fled the property. We are hopeful the deputy will recover.”
Gutzwiller “was a beloved figure here at the sheriff’s office,” Sheriff Hart said. “Damon showed up today to do his job, to keep this community safe and his life was taken needlessly.”
Carrillo, who was reportedly armed, was tracked down by other officers and wounded in his apprehension. Hart said the suspect was transported to the hospital for treatment and would be charged with first-degree murder and other charges.
A CHP officer also suffered a hand wound in the incident and was expected to survive.
“Words cannot express the pain we feel for Damon and his family,” Hart said, “He was the kind of person we all hope to be. Today, we lost a hero. We are grateful to have known him and we mourn with his family.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom extended condolences to Gutzwiller’s family and ordered flags at the Capitol to be flown at half-staff in honor of the slain deputy.
“He will be remembered as a hero who devoted his life to protecting the community and as a loving husband and father,” Newsom said in a statement.
The shooting shocked Ben Lomond, a town of about 6,000 people in the Santa Cruz mountains.
Resident Kathy Crocker brought a bouquet to the sheriff’s office as Hart gave a news conference about the shootings.
“It just breaks my heart that this keeps happening,” she said, as teary-eyed deputies entered the building.
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