Santa Cruz sheriff to give update on ambush killing of deputy

ByLauren Martinez KGO logo
Monday, June 8, 2020
Memorial grows for fallen Santa Cruz Co. deputy, officials to give update on ambush killing
EMBED <>More Videos

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Department will hold a press conference Monday at 2 p.m. to provide an update on the investigation into the ambush shooting and killing of a deputy in Ben Lomond.

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. -- The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Department had some help detaining and arresting the man accused of ambush shooting and killing a deputy in Ben Lomond Saturday.

An active-duty U.S. Air Force sergeant, 32-year-old Steven Carrillo, has been arrested on suspicion of fatally shooting Santa Cruz Sheriff's Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, 38, and wounding two other officers.

Carrillo was detained with the help of a Ben Lomond resident, Sheriff Jim Hart said in a press conference Monday.

The sheriff described a chaotic scene Saturday afternoon in the Santa Cruz mountains with pipe bombs detonating and poor radio and cell signal while they searched for Carrillo. Carrillo ran into a Ben Lomond resident's yard wearing an AR-15 on his chest, Hart said, and demanded the resident's car keys.

The resident calmly went into his house, came back and handed him a key. When Carrillo turned to leave, the resident tackled him to the ground. Carrillo tried to light a pipe bomb, Hart said, which the resident swatted away. Then he pulled out a pistol and the resident successfully wrestled that away, as well.

More nearby residents jumped into action and helped detain the suspect until sheriff's deputies could arrive on scene.

"It was a remarkable remarkable heroic thing that resident did," said Sheriff Hart. "He doesn't want to be named and doesn't want any recognition."

The violent encounter started Saturday when deputies responded to a 911 call around 1:30 p.m. about a suspicious van in Ben Lomond. The caller said there were guns and bomb-making devices inside, Hart said.

When deputies arrived, they were ambushed by gunfire and explosives after getting out of their vehicle.

Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller was wounded and later died at a hospital. Sheriff Hart said Monday another deputy, whose identity isn't being revealed, was also shot in the chest, but a bulletproof vest stopped the bullet. Still, he suffered internal trauma as a result. He was also hit by shrapnel from a bomb that went off and by the suspect's vehicle as he fled. He was in the hospital in stable condition Monday.

A third officer from the California Highway Patrol was shot in his hand.

RELATED: Air Force sergeant arrested on suspicion for killing of deputy in Santa Cruz County

Carrillo was being treated at the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. Carrillo will be charged with first-degree murder, Hart said.

Carrillo's wife, Monika Leigh Scott Carrillo, who was also in the Air Force, was found dead in an off-base hotel in May 2018 while she was stationed in South Carolina. She was 30. Her death was investigated by the Sumter County Sheriff's Office, in coordination with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and ruled a suicide, according to the Air Force.

RELATED: FBI investigates possible link between deadly officer shootings in Santa Cruz Co., Oakland

Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart said Gutzwiller was a beloved 14-year veteran of the force.

"There's a hole in all of our hearts now." he said at a vigil Sunday that drew more than a thousand mourners.

The FBI is investigating a possible link between the Ben Lomond shooting and the attack on the Federal Building in downtown Oakland that killed a security officer on May 29. The suspect in both cases was described as having a white van filled with weapons.

Special Agent John Bennett declined to give further details on any possible links, saying, "This is a complex and active investigation."

Since Saturday, law enforcement have been sorting through a large quantity of bombs, bomb making equipment and ammunition found at the scene of the crime.

Carrillo will be arraigned Friday afternoon.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.