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Sheriff's deputy in California killed, 2 others injured in 'ambush'

"In my 32-year career, this is the worst day I've ever experienced," Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart said. "Today we lost a true hero."

A Santa Cruz County sheriff's deputy was killed and two others injured Saturday in what law enforcement officials described as an ambush.

Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, 38, was among several deputies who responded to a call about a suspicious van parked in a turnout in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The caller told police they saw guns and bomb-making materials inside the van, Sheriff Jim Hart said.

The van drove off when deputies arrived. The deputies followed but were met with gunfire and multiple improvised explosives when they attempted to investigate, Hart said.

Gutzwiller was shot and taken to the hospital, where he later died. Another deputy was "either shot or struck" with shrapnel from the bomb, Hart said. That deputy was also hit by a car as the suspect, identified as Stephen Carrillo, fled the scene. He was eventually found and arrested.

"In my 32-year career, this is the worst day I've ever experienced," Hart said. "Today we lost a true hero."

Gutzwiller had been with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Department since 2006. He was married with one child and another on the way, according to Hart.

"In this era we are in, when you think of what you want to see in a police officer - compassion, caring, someone who truly loves their job and wants to help people - that’s was Damon was," Hart said. "He was a good man and a good police officer."