(CN) — An Air Force sergeant suspected of ties to a far-right extremist movement pleaded not guilty Thursday to the first-degree murder and attempted murder of two Federal Protective Services officers as they guarded the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Oakland on May 29.
Sgt. Steven Carrillo, 32, appeared by video before U.S. District Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins from Santa Rita Jail. He and co-defendant Robert Alvin Justus Jr., 30, were indicted by a grand jury last Thursday for killing officer David Patrick Underwood and wounding his partner in a drive-by shooting, which federal authorities believe was part of a specific plan to target law enforcement officers during a racial justice protest that was happening simultaneously in downtown Oakland.
In a criminal complaint against Carrillo, FBI Special Agent Brett Woolard says he believes the pair are connected to the anti-government, pro-gun movement Boogaloo, whose adherents believe a second civil war is close at hand.
The day before the shooting at the Oakland federal courthouse, Carrillo posted on Facebook a link to a YouTube video showing a crowd attacking two California Highway Patrol vehicles.
“It’s on our coast now, this needs to be nationwide. It’s a great opportunity to target the specialty soup bois. Keep that energy going,” Carrillo said.
Another Facebook user commented, “Starting tomorrow, Oakland be popping off. Maybe more.”
Woolard said he believes Carrillo’s “soup bois” reference to be a Boogaloo slang term for federal law enforcement agents. I know that federal law enforcement agencies are sometimes referred colloquially to as “alphabet soup” agencies.
Justus responded, “let’s boogie.”
On May 29, Carrillo posted on Facebook, “If it kicksoff? Its kicking off now and if its not kicking off in your hood then start it. Show them the targets.”
He also commented, “Go to the riots and support our own cause. 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.”
According to the complaint, Carrillo and Justus met at the San Leandro BART station the evening of May 29.
Carrillo showed up in a white van and ordered Justus to drive, handing him a gun and offering body armor, which Justus allegedly declined to use.
Justus claims he tried to dissuade Carrillo from shooting at a helicopter, police officers and civilians as he circled the streets of downtown Oakland.
Carrillo eventually opened the side door of the van and opened fire on the guard post in front of the Oakland federal building, allegedly saying something to the effect of “did you see how they fucking fell,” as Justus drove away.
Carrillo was arrested on June 6 in Ben Lomond after ambushing deputies from the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s office and killing Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller. The officers were responding to a witness report of a white van containing firearms and bombmaking materials at Carrillo’s residence. It was the same white van Justus drove on May 29.
Justus was arrested after his parents drove him to the federal building in San Francisco, where he met with the FBI.
Carrillo has been charged with one count of murder of a person assisting an officer or employee of the U.S. government in the performance of official duties, and one count of attempted murder of a person assisting an officer or employee of the U.S. government in the performance of official duties. Justus is charged with two counts of aiding and abetting murder and attempted murder. He pleaded not guilty on June 26.
Justus claims he did not support Carrillo’s plan, but was afraid of Carrillo and felt he had no choice but to cooperate. Federal authorities believe he was a willing participant.
Both would be eligible for a federal death sentence if convicted. Carrillo’s next court date is currently set for Aug. 6.