• Sat. Sep 23rd, 2023


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Ex-Air Force Sergeant Sentenced to 41 Years for Murder of Federal Officer

A former Air Force sergeant who participated online in an extremist anti-government movement was sentenced on Friday to 41 years in prison for murdering a federal security officer and injuring another outside a courthouse in Oakland, Calif., according to court documents.

Steven Carrillo, who was on active duty at the time of the attack but has since been discharged from the military, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder of a government employee and attempted murder of a government employee.

The murder took place on the night of May 29, 2020, during an intense period of protests focused on the killing of George Floyd, and that was by design, according to court documents. Mr. Carrillo aimed to heighten a period of civil unrest, with the ultimate goal of destroying the government, court documents said.

The attack took the form of a drive-by shooting, said the documents, with an accomplice of Mr. Carrillo’s, Robert Alvin Justus Jr., driving a van while Mr. Carrillo fired on two guards at the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse.

One guard died and another sustained “permanent injuries,” the documents said.

In the months leading up to the attack, according to court documents, Mr. Carrillo had espoused the extremist ideology found in internet forums known as the boogaloo movement, which calls for a second civil war and seeks the destruction of the government.

The plea deal reached by Mr. Carrillo and prosecutors accounted for factors including his early acceptance of responsibility for the crime and his lack of prior criminal history, according to a sentencing memorandum that explains the parties’ joint recommendation.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the federal court for the Northern District of California said that she knew the plea agreement would not make the dead officer’s family happy but approved it nevertheless, according to The Mercury News.

“I would not accept it if I saw no measure of redemption,” she said, adding, “I do not see evil in Mr. Carrillo.”

During the sentencing, Angela Underwood Jacobs, the sister of the victim, David Patrick Underwood, described her response to his death, The Mercury reported.

“I could only think of Pat laying on the cold hard cement, bleeding out from his neck and torso,” Ms. Jacobs said. “Did he know he was dying? Did he think of his mother, father, brother and sister? How did he feel as he took his last breaths? Was he content with a life well lived, or was he terrified?”

Mr. Justus, who coordinated the attack with Mr. Carrillo on Facebook, pleaded not guilty to aiding and abetting first-degree murder and attempted murder of a government employee, according to court documents. The status of his case was not immediately clear.

The boogaloo movement is leaderless and inchoate, with different supporters expressing different ideas. The points of commonality generally include an emphasis on Second Amendment rights, opposition to government authority and the desirability of the current American social order collapsing. Supporters communicate largely through memes on websites such as 4chan.

Mr. Carrillo is also charged in a separate case at the state level for opening fire on law enforcement officials who had approached his residence in Ben Lomond, Calif., during an eight-day manhunt, leading to the death of one officer.

Mr. Carrillo fled after that encounter and carjacked a Toyota Camry, on whose hood he wrote boogaloo slogans using his own blood, according to the criminal complaint.

The complaint identifies a Facebook post by Mr. Carrillo from the morning of the attack that suggests a more detailed sense of his aims.

“Go to the riots and support our own cause,” Mr. Carrillo wrote. “Show them the real targets. Use their anger to fuel our fire. Think outside the box. We have mobs of angry people to use to our advantage.”