A US Air Force sergeant pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder charges in the ambush killing of a sheriff’s deputy, one of two killings of law enforcement officers he is suspected of committing in Northern California.
Steven Carrillo, 32, who officials say is associated with the extremist anti-government ‘boogaloo’ group, entered the not guilty plea in a Dublin, California, courtroom Thursday, the East Bay Times reported.
During his court appearance, Carrillo wore a face mask with the words ‘We the people,’ written in marker on it, along with initials ‘BLM’ – for ‘Black Lives Matter’ – and ‘Portland, Kenosha, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.’
Carrillo pleaded not guilty to the June 6 death of Santa Cruz Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, 38, in Ben Lomond, California.
Authorities said Carrillo ambushed Gutzwiller and other sheriff’s deputies while they responded to a report of a van containing firearms and bomb-making materials.
Gutzwiller was killed and several other law enforcement officials were wounded during the incident, according to authorities.
Police said that while ambushing Gutzwiller and other Santa Cruz deputies, Carrillo used an AR-15-style homemade rifle and threw pipe bombs at them, according to the Mercury News.
Carrillo also allegedly tried to carry out multiple carjackings after killing Gutzwiller in the gunfight with police.
Carrillo also faces federal murder and attempted murder charges after he allegedly sprayed bullets on May 29 across a guard shack in front of a federal building in Oakland, California, killing David Patrick Underwood, a federal protective service officer, and wounding another officer.
Federal prosecutors linked Carrillo to the far-right, anti-government ‘Boogaloo’ movement – which claims to be preparing for a second Civil War – based on the far-right phrases he wrote in his own blood on the hood of a car he is accused of stealing after killing Gutzwiller, and also through his social media posts.
‘BOOG,’ ‘I became unreasonable’ and ‘stop the duopoly’ were among the phrases written in blood on the hood, according to photo evidence included in court documents.
The killings happened amid protests against police brutality following the killing of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.
Carrillo pleased not guilty in federal court to murder and attempted murder in the Underwood case in July.
Vice President Mike Pence referenced Underwood’s killing in his Wednesday evening speech at the Republican National Convention.
Pence said Underwood was ‘shot and killed during the riots in Oakland, California.’
The FBI has said that Carrillo and his co-defendant in the federal case, Robert Justus, traveled to Oakland to assassinate law enforcement officers but were not part of a protest that night that came in the wake of Floyd’s killing.
Underwood´s killers picked that day because they knew local police would be distracted by the protests, according to federal authorities.
Carrillo is eligible for a death sentence if found guilty in either federal or state court.
Federal prosecutors in Underwood’s case aren’t expected to make a formal recommendation about whether they’ll pursue the death penalty until at least mid-September.