SANTA CRUZ (CBS SF) — A Santa Cruz County sheriff’s deputy continued to recover Tuesday from a litany of injuries he suffered during an exchange of gunfire and an assault of exploding pipebombs by a suspect during a ferocious weekend confrontation in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
His partner — 38-year-old veteran deputy Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller — died during the exchange. Highly trained Air Force security officer Sgt. Steven Carrillo was in the Santa Cruz County jail Tuesday charged with the murder and a variety of other crimes stemming from Saturday’s ambush of the deputies.
Investigators were still trying to determine why Carrillo had a large cache of weapons and explosives, but Sheriff Jim Hart called him dangerous and “an angry man intent on bringing harm to police officers.”
But when the officers got out of their patrol cars and began walking up the driveway, they had no idea what awaited them.
“They had no idea they were about to get into a firefight,” Hart said.
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Hart did not reveal the name of the second deputy at a Monday news conference, but did update his condition.
“He suffered some serious injuries,” the sheriff told reporters. “We have not confirmed yet through ballistics but it appears that he had been shot in the chest and his vest was able to stop the bullet but he suffered some significant internal trauma from the bullet. He also suffered shrapnel wounds from a bomb that was set off and he was struck by the suspect’s car as suspect fled from the scene.”
The Santa Cruz Mountains is populated by independent, tough-minded individuals. Hart said it was that DNA that halted further lives from being lost during the intense exchange and Carrillo’s flight to escape capture.
“This guy (Carrillo) went into the backyard of a local resident and the local resident confronted him and wanted to know what he was doing on his property,” Hart said. “The suspect told him that — actually he had an AR-15 slung, he was carrying an AR. He told the resident he wanted his car keys. The resident very calmly went into his house, obtained a key and came back out and handed it to him.”
Then a hand-to-hand, life-or-death struggle began.
“As the suspect turned around, the resident tackled him and the AR-15 fell away and the resident took this guy to the ground. At that time the suspect reached into his pocket and pulled out a pipe bomb and tried to ignite a pipe bomb while being held down,” Hart continued with his tale of heroism.
“This resident was able to knock the pipe bomb out of his hand and then the suspect reached into his waistband and pulled out a pistol. There was a wrestling match over the pistol. The resident was able to knock the pistol out of his hand, detain this guy. Multiple other community members from Ben Lomond jumped on this guy and held him until our deputies sheriffs were able to get there and take him into custody.”
“It was a remarkable, remarkable, heroic thing that that resident did. He does not want to be named. He doesn’t want any recognition … This guy could have done a lot more damage in out community had that resident not taken the action that he did.”
Hart also described the chaos that was unfolding.
“There was a lot of gunshots,” Hart said. “There were pipe bombs going off. Radio and cell reception is poor in that region of the county. Our deputies were scouring the hillside both on foot and in vehicles looking for this guy on Saturday.”
Carrillo will be formerly charged in the case on Friday afternoon.