As protests gripped Oakland on May 29, a white van pulled up outside a federal courthouse. A door slid open, and a man peppered the two security officers outside with bullets, killing one and wounding the other.
For a little over a week, the crime was a mystery. Was it tied to the protests just blocks away? Even after the suspected killer was dramatically caught in the nearby mountains eight days later, his motive was murky.
Now, federal authorities say the man, identified as Air Force Staff Sgt. Steven Carrillo, 32, was an adherent of the “boogaloo boys,” a growing online extremist movement that has sought to use peaceful protests against police brutality to spread fringe views and ignite a race war. Federal investigators allege that’s exactly what Carrillo was trying to do last month.
Federal prosecutors on Tuesday charged Carrillo with murder and attempted murder, and leveled aiding and abetting charges against Robert Alvin Justus Jr., who has admitted to serving as a getaway driver during the courthouse ambush, according to the FBI. Protective Security Officer David Patrick Underwood was killed and a second officer, who officials have not named, was critically wounded in the ambush. Inside the three vehicles Carrillo used, police found a boogaloo patch, ammunition, firearms, bombmaking equipment and three messages scrawled in blood: “I became unreasonable,” “Boog” and “Stop the duopoly.”
“The assassination and injury of federal officers who swore an oath to protect the American public will not be tolerated,” Chad Wolf, the acting secretary for homeland security, said in a statement announcing the charges. “The Department of Homeland Security will continue its mission to end violent extremism in any form.”
Carrillo’s attorney, Jeffrey Stotter, told NBC News that investigators’ claims are “accusations and allegations,” and said his client was “left deeply shaken” by his wife’s suicide in 2018. He also told the Santa Cruz Sentinel that Carrillo, who was an active-duty Air Force staff sergeant at the time of the attack, suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2009.
“All I can ask is that we avoid a rush to judgment as to what occurred,” Stotter told the Sentinel.
The newly detailed alleged motive behind the attack at the Oakland courthouse comes as concerns rise about right-wing violence at Black Lives Matter protests. On Monday, a counterdemonstrator shot a protester during a scuffle in Albuquerque, after a militia group in military-style garb and armed with semiautomatic rifles stood menacingly in the crowd throughout the afternoon. Other boogaloo boys have been charged recently with fomenting violence at other protests.
The actual domestic terrorists are out there killing cops at BLM protests in order to start a larger war that kills thousands, maybe millions of Black folks. They're out there, killing.
At some point, they're going to go all the way.