A Suspected Boogaloo Extremist Has Been Charged With Killing A Federal Officer In Oakland Last Month
Authorities say Carrillo and an accomplice were trying to take advantage of the national protests against police brutality: "They came to Oakland to kill cops."
A military officer and suspected member of the extremist "Boogaloo" movement tried to take advantage of massive protests across the country "to kill cops," federal officials said Tuesday, and traveled to Oakland where he allegedly killed an officer outside a federal courthouse.
Steven Carrillo, a 32-year-old Air Force sergeant who had already been charged in a killing of a California deputy, was charged Tuesday in the murder of a federal security officer in Oakland last month.
He and an alleged accomplice, Robert Alvin Justus Jr., traveled to Oakland on May 29 expecting to see massive protests on the streets in response to the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis Police officer.
But Carrillo had no sympathies with protesters mourning the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, officials said. Instead, he is believed to be linked with the extremist movement known as "Boogaloo," whose members expect, and are seeking to provoke, a second Civil War.
The two men, according to a federal indictment, were looking to use the cover of the protests for their own cause, targeting police to spark outrage and anger as protests and civil unrest continued to fill the streets.
"Use their anger to fuel our fire," he wrote on Facebook the morning of the day the federal officer was killed. "We have mobs of angry people to use to our advantage."
The Air Force sergeant, according to his Facebook posts, appeared intent on instigating violence on the streets.
"It's kicking off now and if it's not kicking off in your hood then start it," he wrote.
Carrillo was charged Tuesday along with Justus, who authorities said was driving a white van on May 29 when Carrillo opened fire outside the Ronald V. Dellums federal courthouse at Protective Security Officer David Patrick Underwood, killing him. A second officer was injured in the attack.
"Carrillo elected to travel to Oakland to conduct this murder and take advantage of a time when this nation was mourning the killing of George Floyd," Jack Bennett, with the FBI in San Francisco, said at a press conference. "There is no evidence that these men had an intention to join the demonstration in Oakland. They came to Oakland to kill cops."
"Pat Underwood was murdered because he wore a uniform," US Attorney for the Northern District of California David Anderson said.
Federal officials have said members of the "Boogaloo" movement have looked at recent mass protests and civil unrest as an opportunity to cause chaos and prompt violence.
In Las Vegas, three alleged members of the movement were accused earlier in June of trying to spark riots and using Molotov cocktails to trigger violence. Two of the men arrested in that case were also members of the military.
Carrillo and Justus are believed to have chosen the date because of the planned protests in Oakland against police brutality. They were allegedly hoping to use the large crowds, and law enforcement's focus on them, to their advantage.
According to a federal complaint, Justus told FBI agents he met Carrillo on Facebook and the two arranged to drive to Oakland on May 29.
Carrillo brought along additional body armor and a firearm for Justus, but he declined to use it.
Justus was allegedly driving the van when the two parked near the federal building. One of the men walked around the area for about 10 minutes, and then the van headed toward a guard post.
Carrillo allegedly opened the passenger-side sliding door and then opened fire, killing Underwood and injuring a second guard.
After the shooting, Carrillo allegedly told Justus, "Did you see how they fucking fell?"
Justus told agents he "did not want to participate in the murder, but that he felt that he had to participate because he was trapped in the van with Carrillo."
When an agent pointed out that Justus had been seen walking out of the van and could have left, he told agents he was thinking of ways to talk Carrillo out of his plan.
"[Justus] said Carrillo expressed an interest multiple times in shooting a helicopter, police officers, and civilians, but that [he] talked him out of it," according to the complaint.
Officials said Carrillo is believed to have used a "ghost gun," one that is not registered and was built in parts. It is unclear if Carrillo obtained the weapon or built it himself.
The incident sparked an eight-day manhunt that led authorities to Ben Lomond, California, after a witness spotted a white Ford van linked to Underwood's killing.
When deputies responded, Carrillo allegedly opened fire on the officers and used explosives to try to avoid capture, officials said. Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller was killed in the confrontation.
Carrillo was wounded in the gunfight and fled on foot, at one point carjacking a vehicle at a nearby highway. He was taken into custody after a brief chase and was then charged in Underwood's death.
When he was taken into custody, authorities said they believe Carrillo wrote extremist phrases on the hood with his own blood, Anderson said.
According to a complaint, Carrillo wrote "BOOG," "I became unreasonable," and "Stop the duopoly" on the van.
A patch associated with the extremist movement was also found on a ballistic vest inside the van. Inside, authorities also found ammunition, firearms, and bomb-making equipment.
Carillo is facing one charge of murder of an officer or employee of the US government and one charge of attempted murder. Justus is facing two charges of aiding and abetting the murder and attempted murder.
According to the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI), a group that studies how hate moves from social media to the real world, the Boogaloo movement is named for a joking reference Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, a 1984 breakdancing movie criticized as being too close to the original. In far-right meme culture, the Boogaloo is a reference to an uprising similar to the Civil War, the so-called Civil War 2: Electric Boogaloo.
According to JJ MacNab, a fellow with George Washington University's Program on Extremism, the Boogaloo movement is not cohesive in their motivations or goals.
"They share jargon, outfits, a love of firearms, and a desire to use violence to gain power," she wrote last month, "but they don't actually share a common goal once power is achieved."