OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A former U.S. Air Force sergeant and suspected member of the “Boogaloo” extremist movement was sentenced Friday to 41 years in prison for the fatal shooting of a federal security officer in the San Francisco Bay Area amid a large 2020 protests against police brutality.
Steven Carrillo, 33, earlier this year pleaded guilty to a federal murder charge for the murder of David Patrick Underwood and the attempted murder of Underwood’s colleagues after federal prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty.
The men were shot dead on May 29, 2020 while standing outside a federal building in Oakland as hundreds marched through the streets.
In February, Carrillo admitted to posting messages to Facebook the day before the shooting asking everyone if they were “down to boog” and saying he was ready to act and not just talk. He also admitted firing 19 rounds with a homemade AR-15 rifle from the back of a white van driven by a man he was linked to online.
“I joined the anti-government movement and specifically wanted to commit acts of violence against federal law enforcement officials,” Carrillo said at the time.
Prosecutors said on Jan. 31 they would not seek the death penalty, but US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said at a hearing in February she was not convinced a 41-year sentence agreed by prosecutors and defense attorneys was enough for Carrillo’s crimes .
Gonzalez Rogers had warned that she could reject the agreement if she felt prosecutors and defense attorneys hadn’t done enough to justify the verdict.
On Friday, Gonzalez Rogers sentenced Carrillo to 41 years in prison, life with supervised release and an amount to be determined at a later date, a court official said. She spoke directly to Underwood’s family and explained why she accepted the agreement.
“I believe that there is evil in this world. … But from what I’ve read and studied, as I’ve tried to find and find logic in the illogical, as I’ve searched for answers, as you’re frustrated and angry that such a tragedy might happen, I can tell you say I don’t see the evil in Mr. Carrillo,” the judge was quoted as saying by the Merkur News.
“I know (the settlement agreement) won’t make you happy, but you have to trust me. I wouldn’t accept it if I didn’t see some measure of redemption,” she said. “He’s going to spend practically the rest of his life in prison in a cell that’s normally no bigger than 10′ by 6′ — not even bigger than this jury box.”
Prosecutors said Carrillo, from Santa Cruz, has ties to the “boogaloo” movement — a concept embraced by a loose network of gun enthusiasts and militia-style extremists. Experts say the group began in the internet’s alt-right culture with a belief that a US civil war was imminent.
Authorities charged Carrillo with fatally shooting Underwood after spraying bullets at a guard hut he was in.
Prosecutors said Robert Alvin Justus Jr. of Millbrae was driving the van. He faces federal charges of murder and attempted murder in the case.
The pair are accused of driving to Oakland and taking advantage of the distraction provided by people marching through the city’s downtown to protest the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
Carrillo was arrested a week after the Oakland shooting after allegedly mugging Santa Cruz County sheriff’s deputies who were responding to a report of a pickup truck carrying firearms and bomb-making materials. Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller, 38, was killed and several other law enforcement officers injured, according to authorities and court records.
Prosecutors in Santa Cruz charged Carrillo with a number of crimes, including murder and attempted murder, in connection with this murder.
Carrillo has pleaded not guilty to Gutzwiller’s murder.
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