Staff Sgt. Steven Carrillo, the Travis Air Force Base security forces airman charged with murdering a California sheriff’s deputy and multiple other crimes last Saturday, wrote phrases associated with a far-right extremist movement in blood on a car before his arrest, NBC News reported Thursday.
Citing prosecutors from Santa Cruz County, NBC reported that Carrillo wrote the words “boog” and “I became unreasonable” in blood on the hood of a car shortly before he was arrested. NBC said “boog” is short for “boogaloo,” which is a term for an online anti-government movement that seeks to provoke a second civil war in America.
“I became unreasonable” refers to a quote from anti-government extremist Marvin Heemeyer, which has become a meme on boogaloo-related social media sites, NBC said. Heemeyer bulldozed 13 buildings in Colorado in June 2004 over a zoning dispute and then killed himself. He has become known by the nickname “Killdozer” in extremist circles online.
Carrillo also wrote “stop the duopoly” in blood, NBC said, referencing a desire to break the system of two main political parties in the United States.
Carrillo, who was arraigned in Santa Cruz Friday afternoon, faces at least 19 charges, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday. He is accused of ambushing and fatally shooting Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, 38, of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department, as well as wounding and attempting to kill other officers with firearms and pipe bombs.
Carrillo was also charged with multiple counts of carjacking and attempted carjacking in an attempt to flee the scene, assaulting a firefighter, possession of a destructive explosive device, unlawfully possessing a weapon, and unlawfully possessing bomb-making materials.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Harts said last weekend that Gutzwiller and other deputies were ambushed with gunfire and explosives at about 1:30 p.m. June 6, when they responded to a 911 call about a suspicious van with guns and bomb-making devices inside.
Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said the incident allegedly involving Carrillo is under investigation. She declined to comment whether the Air Force is investigating any connections Carillo might have had with extremist groups or whether any other airmen are involved in the Boogaloo movment.
Concerns over white supremacist and extremist activity in the military have grown in recent years.
A survey conducted by Military Times last fall found more than one-third of active-duty troops, and half of minority service members, had personally witnessed instances of white nationalist or ideological-driven racism in recent months. This was a significant increase from the previous year’s survey, which found about 1 in 5 respondents had witnessed that kind of racism.
“Historically, this has been a problem for the military,” Cassie Miller, a research and investigations specialist for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told Military Times earlier this year. “There are certain parts of the white power movement that value military experience and are often recruiting there.”
Carillo is the latest member of the military with apparent involvement in the boogaloo movement. Earlier this month, federal prosecutors charged three Nevada men — an Army reservist, a Navy veteran, and an Air Force veteran — with plotting to terrorize and provoke violence at protests in Las Vegas. Prosecutors said those men self-identified as members of the boogaloo movement.
Last November, an online neo-Nazi forum’s chat logs were released online, showing discussions including people claiming to be military service members or wanting to join the military.
And an airman from the 50th Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado was demoted from master sergeant to technical sergeant last year after photographs surfaced purportedly showing his involvement with the white nationalist group Identity Evropa. A board also recommended that Tech. Sgt. Cory Reeves be discharged, the Air Force said in February.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.