Suspect in California 'ambush' that left deputy dead is active-duty Air Force sergeant

Staff Sgt. Steven Carrillo was stationed at Travis Air Force Base northeast of the San Francisco Bay Area.

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By Tim Stelloh

A suspect arrested in the "ambush" killing of a sheriff's deputy in Santa Cruz County, California, is an active-duty member of the Air Force, an official said Sunday.

The man, Staff Sgt. Steven Carrillo, who authorities said will face murder charges in the killing Saturday of sheriff's Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, 38, was stationed at Travis Air Force Base, northeast of the San Francisco Bay Area, an Air Force spokesman said.

The spokesman, Mike Longoria, said Carrillo was a team leader in a specialized unit of the 60th Security Forces Squadron. He was stationed at Travis in June 2018, he said.

Authorities alleged that Carrillo opened fire on Gutzwiller and other deputies after they responded to a call Saturday about a suspicious van parked in a turnout in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The caller had seen guns and bomb-making equipment inside, Sheriff Jim Hart said Saturday. Two other officers — including one who was hit by a car and struck by shrapnel from a bomb — were injured, he said.

Carrillo is alleged to have been involved in a carjacking before he was shot by deputies and taken into custody. Hart said Carrillo was treated for his injuries and released.

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The Associated Press reported that Carrillo's wife, Monika Leigh Scott Carrillo, who was also in the Air Force, was found dead in 2018 at an off-base hotel while she was stationed in South Carolina. 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, the AP reported.

The FBI said Sunday that it is investigating whether the Santa Cruz County incident is connected to the killing of a federal officer in Oakland on May 29. Authorities released photos last week of a van believed to have been used in the shooting, which left Dave Patrick Underwood, 53, dead.