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Man linked to far-right extremist movement charged with shooting officers during George Floyd protests

He allegedly used what investigators have described as a 'ghost gun' — a homemade assault-style rifle

Chris Riotta
New York
Wednesday 17 June 2020 18:05 BST
Federal prosecutors charge 'Boogaloo extremists' with murder

A man charged with killing two officers in California has ties to a far-right extremist movement, federals officials alleged, and plotted to use protests over the death of George Floyd to launch a race war.

Steven Carrillo, an active-duty staff sergeant in the US Air Force, opened fire on a guard shack outside of a federal building in Oakland on 29 May, according to charging documents. The shooting occurred as demonstrators were gathering throughout the city to mourn the death of Mr Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man who was seen pleading for his life as a white police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes in cellphone footage that sparked global anti-racism demonstrations.

An FBI affidavit that was unsealed on Tuesday said Mr Carrillo was seemingly planning to use the protests to attack law enforcement. Officials have said Mr Carrillo was a suspected member of the Boogaloo movement, a loosely-connected group of provocateurs calling for another American civil war through violent actions.

The affidavit said Mr Carrillo, who faces federal murder and attempted murder charges, wrote in a Facebook post: “Go to the riots and support our own cause … Show them the real targets. Use their anger to fuel our fire. Think outside the box. We have mobs of angry people to use to our advantage.”

He later killed David Patrick Underwood, a federal protective services officer, during a drive-by shooting that same night. Robert Alvin Justus Jr, who allegedly drove Mr Carrillo in the van used for the drive-by shooting, has been charged with aiding and abetting murder and attempted murder.

As deputies with the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s office closed in on Mr Carrillo nearly a week later, he allegedly stole a car to flee — writing phrases connected to the Boogaloo movement in his own blood on top of the vehicle.

He then used what investigators have described as a “ghost gun” — a homemade assault-style rifle — during a shootout with law enforcement that left one officer, Sheriff Jim Hart, dead.

Mr Justus has reportedly told investigators “he did not want to participate in the murder” according to the complaint, “but that he felt that he had to participate because he was trapped in the van” with Mr Carrillo, who he allegedly met just before the drive-by shooting.

Jeffrey, Stotter, an attorney for Mr Carrillo, described his client as a “loyal and good airman” who “suffered severe personal loss in the suicide of his wife two years ago” in a statement to CNN.

He added: “There is more to Mr Carrillo than the picture painted by law enforcement.”

Police departments across the country have warned in recent weeks of extremist groups and provocateurs embedding themselves into the nationwide protests to instigate trouble with law enforcement.

The largely peaceful demonstrations have continued for weeks, with protestors demanding an end to police brutality and the use of excessive force against minority communities and unarmed black men.

Memorials have meanwhile been planned across California for both of the officers killed in the shootings.

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