An Air Force sergeant has been arrested and is facing murder charges for the death of one police officer and the wounding of two in an ambush that involved several Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), last Saturday in California.
Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller, a deputy with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, was killed during the incident. Another deputy and a California Highway Patrol officer were injured.
They were responding to a call about a suspicious van that contained weapons and bomb-making material. They located the vehicle and began following it. When it stopped in a residential area, the police officers dismounted and began investigating. At that moment, they were ambushed.
Sergeant Steven Carrillo, an Airman assigned to the 60th Security Forces Squadron out of Travis Air Force Base, has been arrested. He was also wounded during the exchange of fire following up to his arrest.
Carrillo was assigned to a Phoenix Raven unit, which is a small team comprised of two to six Security Forces Airmen that specializes in providing security to Airfields that are under high criminal or terrorist threats.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement that “I extend our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and co-workers of Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller, who was tragically killed while on duty today. He will be remembered as a hero who devoted his life to protecting the community and as a loving husband and father.”
It is still not clear if Carrillo is the one who made the call about the suspicious vehicle.
Sheriff Jim Hart, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff, said in a press statement that “In my 32-year career, this is my worst day I’ve ever experienced. Today we lost one of our own and he was a true hero.”
The FBI, moreover, is trying to determine if Carrillo is also responsible for the killing of a federal officer with the Federal Protective Service last month in Oakland, California during the early days of the protests against the death of George Floyd.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has categorized the Oakland shooting as an act of domestic terrorism.
On the night hours of Friday, May 29, a white van stopped close to the Ronald V. Dellums federal building. Then, bystanders stated to the San Francisco Chronicle, that the van’s side door opened, and a man shot at the Federal Protective Service officers guarding the building. Officer Patrick Underwood died as a result.
Ken Cuccinelli, the Deputy DHS Secretary, said that “When someone targets a police officer or a police station with an intention to do harm and intimidate, that is an act of domestic terrorism.”
Ben Lomond is approximately 70 miles south of Oakland.
Chad Wolf, the acting DHS Secretary, cautioned that certain individuals or groups might want to take advantage of the protests and civil unrest in order to promote their goals.