A former U.S. Air Force staff sergeant and alleged member of the boogaloo extremist movement pleaded guilty Friday to fatally shooting a federal security officer in Oakland amid large 2020 protests against police brutality.
Steven Carrillo, 33, of Ben Lomond, California, changed his plea to guilty to a federal murder charge in the killing of David Patrick Underwood, a protective services officer, and to the attempted murder of Underwood’s colleague after federal prosecutors last month agreed not to seek the death penalty.
The two security officers were shot on May 29, 2020, while they stood in a guard shack in front of a federal building in downtown Oakland.
Dressed in an orange jumpsuit in federal court, Carrillo read from a plea agreement, admitting to posting messages on Facebook a day before the shooting asking if anyone was “down to boo” and stating he was ready to act and not just talk. He also admitted firing 19 rounds from a homemade AR-15 rifle.
“I aligned myself with the anti-government movement and wanted to carry out violent acts against federal law enforcement officers in particular,” Carrillo said.
Prosecutors on Jan. 31 said they would not seek the death penalty, but U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said Friday she is not convinced she will accept the plea agreement between prosecutors and defense lawyers that calls for a 41-year prison sentence.
Carrillo is scheduled to be sentenced on June 3, but Gonzalez Rogers warned that she could reject the plea agreement if she doesn't feel prosecutors and defense lawyers do enough to justify the sentence.
“I cannot accept a plea unless there was a sufficient independent factual basis for the plea,” she said.
And if she does accept the deal, Carrillo would go to trial and his admissions in court could be used against him, Gonzalez Rogers said.
Prosecutors have said Carrillo, of Santa Cruz, had ties to the boogaloo movement — a concept embraced by a loose network of gun enthusiasts and militia-style extremists. The alt-right group started on the internet predicated on the belief that there is an impending U.S. civil war, according to experts.
Authorities accused Carrillo of spraying a guard shack with bullets, killing Underwood, who was inside.
Underwood's sister, Angela Underwood Jacobs, called Carrillo a “domestic terrorist” during Friday's hearing.