Grand Jury Indicts Four Suspected Militia Members Tied to Cop Killer

Four militia men linked to the extremist “Boogaloo” movement have been indicted for destroying evidence of their connection to a gunman who shot and killed two law enforcement officers last year.

Santa Cruz Sheriff Jim Hart stands next to fallen Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller’s pregnant widow and child, as more than a thousand people gather outside the Santa Cruz County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office to pay their respects in Santa Cruz, Calif., Sunday, June 7, 2020. Santa Cruz County Sheriff Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, 38, was shot and killed in Ben Lomond, an unincorporated area near Santa Cruz. The suspect, Steven Carrillo, was shot during the arrest. (AP Photo/Martha Mendoza)

OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) — A federal grand jury indicted four members of a militia connected to the antigovernment, pro-gun “Boogaloo” movement on charges of destroying records to throw off an investigation into a shooting at an Oakland courthouse in May 2020 that killed one federal officer and wounded another.

The indictment filed last month and unsealed Friday names Turlock resident Jessie Alexander Rush aka “Grizzly Actual,” Robert Jesus Blancas aka “MuskOx” or “Orgoloth” of Castro Valley, Los Gatos resident Simon Ybarra aka “Shepard,” and San Lorenzo resident Kenny Miksch aka “Senpai” as members of the “Grizzly Scouts,” a militia group purportedly founded by Rush, who held the rank of major.

According to the indictment, the men connected on a Facebook group called “K/alifornia Kommando” and would meet periodically for firearms training.

The Facebook group’s description stated, “they say the west won’t boog,” and the group was “here to gather like minded Californians who can network and establish local goon squads.”

“Boog” refers to the Boogaloo, an antigovernment internet meme promoting violent civil war through militias. Boogaloo is also known by the alternate name “Big Igloo.”

Air Force Sgt. Steven Carrillo, who has been charged with shooting and killing officer David Underwood and wounding his partner during a racial justice protest, is also alleged to be a member of the Grizzly Scouts, with the rank of “Staff Sergeant” and the nickname “Armadillo.”

Underwood, a Federal Protective Services officer for the Department of Homeland Security, was standing watch with another guard outside the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse on May 29.

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. They were responding to a witness report of a white van containing firearms and bombmaking materials at Carrillo’s residence. Another officer remains hospitalized.

Prosecutors charged Carrillo 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.

His alleged accomplice Robert Alvin Justus Jr. faces charges of aiding and abetting murder and attempted murder.

Both cases are currently unfolding before U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland.

According to the latest criminal complaint, Carrillo, Rush, Ibarra, Blancas and Miksch all communicated around June 1 through a WhatsApp messaging group labeled “209 Goon HQ.” All five “repeatedly referenced ‘boog’ and discussed tactics involving killing of police officers and other law enforcement.”

Minutes before the June 6 shooting in Ben Lomond, Carrillo also exchanged messages on WhatsApp group saying he was about to engage with law enforcement and asked for backup.

Quoting from the messages, the criminal complaint against the four says Carrillo told the group to “Kit up and get here. Theres inly one road in/out. Take them out when theyre coming in. . . . Police are here fkr me . . . Theyre waiting for reenforcements im listening to them.”

He also admitted to the group, “Dudes i offed a fed,” according to the indictment.

The complaint says Rush immediately instructed Carrillo to “factor reset” his phone on “which would have had the effect of deleting and destroying any evidence on it, including any stored communications.”

The others also deleted the “209 Goon HQ” chat from their phones, the indictment says, and Blancas deleted 20 files from his Dropbox account that contained information about the Grizzly Scouts, including “files concerning the rank structure of the Grizzly Scouts, a nondisclosure agreement requiring members of the Grizzly Scouts to maintain the confidentiality of the group’s materials, a liability release waiver, descriptions of Grizzly Scouts uniforms, and a scorecard to assess members of the Grizzly Scouts with respect to combat, firearms, medical, and other training.”

Hours later, Rush, Blancas, Ybarra, and Miksch started a new channel on a different communications app where they could set their messages to disappear automatically, the complaint says.

The four face one count each of conspiracy to obstruct justice by destroying records, and one count each of destroying records in official proceedings. Rush faces an additional count of obstruction of official proceedings, and Blancas is charged with an additional count of destruction of records in official proceedings.

All four have already been arrested. Rush and Miksch are currently held in federal custody in San Francisco. Ybarra will appear in federal court on Friday in the Eastern District of California, where he was arrested. Blancas is scheduled to make his first court appearance on April 15 before U.S. District Judge Vincent Chhabria in San Francisco.

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