The man who allegedly shot to death a Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s deputy before engaging in a short but violent crime spree on Saturday, June 6, was stopped by a resident who tackled him and held him down until law enforcement officials arrived.
According to Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart, Steven Carrillo—armed with an AR-15—entered a property at 10040 Highway 9 in Ben Lomond and demanded the resident’s car keys. The resident, who does not want to be identified, retrieved a key and then tackled Carrillo, knocking the rifle to the ground, Hart said.
During the struggle, Carrillo tried to ignite a pipe bomb and draw a pistol, both of which the resident managed to knock out of Carrillo’s hands as neighbors helped hold him down. Carrillo also attempted to carjack at least two other people, and lobbed several explosive devices at law enforcement officials, Hart said.
“This was a very chaotic scene,” Hart said.
Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller died on Saturday shortly after he was shot. Hundreds of people turned out for a vigil in his honor on Sunday.
The new details of Carrillo’s arrest were among several released today during a press conference. “He was dangerous, and he was an angry man intent on doing harm to police officers,” Hart said. “He murdered Sgt. Gutzwiller, he injured another deputy and another police officer, and he is going to be held accountable.”
Hart also confirmed that the FBI has joined the investigation in a support capacity.
FBI Special Agent John Bennett said the agency has deployed bomb technicians, a SWAT team and evidence response teams from Los Angeles and the headquarters in Quantico, Va. Investigators have found what they described as a large number of weapons and ammunition at Carrillo’s residence, along with bomb-making material.
Bennett confirmed that the FBI is “actively investigating” possible links between the Saturday shooting and the fatal shooting last month of a federal officer during an Oakland protest, but declined to comment further.
“Law enforcement can not and does not rely on assumptions or guesses,” Bennett said. “We need to follow the evidence and make sure that we conduct this investigation thoroughly, accurately and fairly.”
The incident began when Gutzwiller and another deputy responded to a call around 1:30pm of a suspicious van parked in a turnout near Jamison Creek Road about five miles north of Boulder Creek.
A caller reported that they saw guns and bomb-making materials inside the van, Hart said. The van was leaving when the deputies arrived, and they followed and found it at a home on Waldeburg Drive in Ben Lomond.
Carrillo, 32, allegedly used an AR-15 rifle to shoot Gutzwiller when he and the other deputy went to contact the driver. The second deputy suffered “significant internal trauma” when his tactical vest stopped a bullet, Hart said. That deputy was also struck by shrapnel from a pipe bomb thrown by Carrillo and hit by his vehicle as Carrillo fled.
The deputy is recovering, and was “in good spirits,” Hart said.
Carrillo was an active-duty U.S. Air Force sergeant stationed at the 60th Security Forces Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, spokesman Lt. Mike Longoria said. He joined in 2018. The Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office is investigating the incident. “I can assure you that this person will be brought to justice,” DA Jeff Rosell said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the District Attorney’s tip line at 831.454.2588.