A man suspected of killing a Northern California sheriff's deputy and wounding another in what authorities described as an "ambush" is an active-duty U.S. Air Force staff sergeant at nearby Travis Air Force Base, police said. The FBI said they are investigating a possible motive and link between the suspect, Steven Carrillo, and the fatal shooting of a federal security officer in Oakland more than a week ago amid nearby protests over the death of George Floyd.
According to the Santa Cruz Sheriff-Coroner Jim Hart, officers were responding Saturday afternoon to a call of a suspicious vehicle, with the caller reporting guns and bomb making materials in the van. When the deputies arrived, the van was seen leaving the area, and officers followed to a nearby home. Upon inspecting it, Hart said the officers were "ambushed" with gunfire and multiple improvised explosive devices.
Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller, 38, was shot and taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Gutzwiller was a 14-year veteran of the police force and a father with a baby on the way.
The other officer was either shot or struck by shrapnel and hit by the vehicle the suspect was using to flee, Hart said.
Hart said there were calls of a carjacking nearby, and departments from all over Santa Cruz responded. Carrillo, who was possibly armed, was apprehended and also wounded in the incident. He was treated at a local hospital, and now faces first-degree murder and other felony charges.
Carrillo had been stationed at Travis Air Force Base, some 50 miles northeast of San Francisco, since 2018, CBS San Francisco reports.
The FBI said Sunday that they are "actively working with" the Santa Cruz sheriff's department to see if there are any connections between Carrillo and the Oakland shooting.
According to authorities, a gunman opened fired on May 30 on two Federal Protective Service officers posted at the city's federal building less than a half-mile half from the Oakland Police headquarters where demonstrators gathered to protest Floyd's death. One officer — identified by The Associated Press as 53-year-old Dave Patrick Underwood — was killed and another sent to the hospital with critical injuries.
The Oakland police tweeted Friday night that they did not believe the shooting was linked to the demonstration.
Ken Cuccinelli, acting deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, called the Oakland shooting an "act of domestic terrorism," according to CBS SF.
California Governor Gavin Newsom has extended his condolences to Gutzwiller's family, per AP, and has ordered flags at the Capitol to be flown at half-staff in honor of the slain sergeant.
"He will be remembered as a hero who devoted his life to protecting the company and as a loving husband and father," according to a statement from Newsom.