Steven Carrillo faces sentencing for the murder of Santa Cruz County deputy Damon Gutzwiller

Steven Carrillo is charged with murdering a Santa Cruz County deputy sheriff and a security officer
Steven Carrillo is scheduled to be sentenced Friday for the murder of Santa Cruz County Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office deputy Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller.
(FRONTLINE via ProPublica)

Steven Carrillo, connected to the nationalist Boogaloo Bois, will hear victim impact statements in a Santa Cruz courtroom Friday then receive his sentence, which could include life in prison without the possibility of parole. He has also received a 41-year federal sentence for a related killing of a law enforcement officer in Oakland.

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More than two years after former U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Steven Carrillo shot and killed Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office deputy Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller in Ben Lomond, the 34-year-old will be sentenced on state murder charges Friday in Santa Cruz County Superior Court. Carrillo pleaded guilty to Gutzwiller’s murder in June in exchange for the prosecution dropping pursuit of the death penalty. He now faces a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

In the courtroom Friday afternoon, Judge Paul Burdick will hear victim impact statements, said Ashley Keehn, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson, who added that representatives from the sheriff’s office will attend.

Keehn also said that Sheriff Jim Hart would not comment on the matter until after sentencing.

Carrillo has already received a 41-year federal prison sentence for murder and attempted murder charges for his role in an Oakland drive-by shooting. That crime, which happened just days before the Ben Lomond shootout that injured two other deputies, ended in the death of Federal Protective Services Officer Dave Patrick Underwood and wounded another security contractor.

The killings shocked the wider Santa Cruz community and particularly those in law enforcement.

Friday’s sentencing comes as law enforcement nationally has increasingly seen itself become the target of white nationalist fury, the same rage that fueled the Santa Cruz County shootings more than two years ago.

On June 6, 2020, a report of a suspicious van at Jamison Creek Road sent local law enforcement to Ben Lomond; the caller said firearms and explosive materials were present. Deputies followed the van, and as it pulled into a driveway, Carrillo opened fire on the officers, killing Gutzwiller and wounding two others.

Carrillo carjacked a vehicle while attempting to flee, but was eventually stopped by a civilian, shot by law enforcement, and arrested. Carrillo left evidence in the vehicle that tied him to the then-emerging, heavily armed, anti-government, extremist group that claims to be preparing for another civil war: the Boogaloo Bois.

On the hood of the car, Carrillo used his own blood to write “BOOG,” “I became unreasonable,” and “stop the duopoly.”

That last phrase is a common saying within Boogaloo circles, refers to the perceived monopoly on power of the Democratic and Republican parties in America.

The Oakland and Ben Lomond killings constitute two of the highest-profile crimes affiliated with the Boogaloo movement, with the group having been linked to several others. A Texas man named Ivan Harrison Hunter, who said he is affiliated with the movement, pleaded guilty in September 2021 to firing on a Minneapolis police station during protests over the death of George Floyd. On Tuesday, two other men were convicted for leading a conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in the hope of starting the second civil war they referred to as “the boogaloo.”

Carrillo’s sentencing is scheduled for Friday at 1:30 p.m. in Courtroom 3 at Santa Cruz County Superior Court.