Ex-Air Force Sergeant With Extremist Ties Sentenced to 41 Years for Killing Oakland Federal Guard

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A black and white aerial photo of a white van in a crosswalk.
Security footage of the white van officials say Staff Sgt. Steven Carrillo used in the murder of federal security officer David Patrick Underwood in Oakland on the night of May 29, 2020. (Courtesy of US District Court)

A former U.S. Air Force staff sergeant and member of the “boogaloo” extremist movement was sentenced to 41 years in prison Friday for the 2020 fatal shooting of a federal security officer in Oakland amid large protests against police brutality.

Steven Carrillo, 33, pleaded guilty earlier this year to a federal murder charge in the killing of David Patrick Underwood and to the attempted murder of Underwood’s colleague after federal prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty.

The two security officers were shot on May 29, 2020, while they stood in front of a federal building in Oakland as hundreds marched on the streets.

Authorities say Carrillo sprayed Underwood's guard shack with bullets, fatally shooting him.

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In February, Carrillo admitted to posting messages on Facebook a day before the shooting asking anyone if they were “down to boog” and saying he was ready to act and not just talk. He also admitted firing 19 rounds from a homemade AR-15 rifle from the back of a white van that was driven by a man he connected with online.


“I aligned myself with the anti-government movement and wanted to carry out violent acts against federal law enforcement officers in particular,” Carrillo said at the time.

At a February hearing, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said she was not convinced that a 41-year sentence agreed to by prosecutors and defense lawyers was sufficient for Carrillo’s crimes — and warned she would reject the plea deal if she didn’t feel prosecutors and defense lawyers did enough to justify the sentence.

But on Friday, Gonzalez Rogers handed down the 41-year sentence, which also includes a lifetime of supervised release and a restitution amount to be determined at a later date, a court official said.

Tammy Evans, Underwood’s first cousin, was among several family members who spoke during Friday’s sentencing proceedings. She described him as like a brother to her.

“Carrillo is not worth my breath. But David Patrick Underwood is worth every breath I have,” she said. “Carrillo came like a thief in the night and just stole someone from our family who we loved and we cherished.”

Of Carrillo’s sentence, she said, “No amount of time will ever be sufficient for the pain we have. You chose to take him from us and sometimes I wish I knew why.”

Prosecutors said Carrillo, of Santa Cruz County, had ties to the boogaloo movement, embraced by a loose network of gun enthusiasts and militia-style extremists. Experts say the group started in alt-right culture on the internet with the belief that there is an impending U.S. civil war.

Prosecutors said Robert Alvin Justus Jr., of Millbrae, drove the van Carrillo fired from. He faces federal charges of murder and attempted murder in the case.

The pair is accused of driving to Oakland and taking advantage of the distraction afforded by people marching through the city’s downtown to protest George Floyd’s killing by a police officer in Minneapolis.

Carrillo was arrested the following week after he allegedly ambushed sheriff’s deputies in Ben Lomond who were responding to a report of a van containing firearms and bomb-making materials. Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, 38, was killed and several other law enforcement officials were wounded, according to authorities and court records.

Prosecutors in Santa Cruz charged Carrillo with a slew of felonies, including murder and attempted murder in connection to that killing.

Carrillo has pleaded not guilty to Gutzwiller’s killing.

KQED's Annelise Finney contributed reporting to this post.