WASHINGTON: A California Air Force sergeant with ties to the extreme-right “boogaloo” movement was charged Tuesday with the murder of an Oakland policeman during Black Lives Matter protests, one of two police officers he is accused of killing in recent weeks.
The Justice Department said Steven Carrillo gunned down Oakland police officer Patrick Underwood in a drive-by shooting from a white van during the May 29 protests over the police killing of a handcuffed African American man in Minneapolis.
Eight days later, on June 6, Carrillo’s van was discovered to the south near Santa Cruz, and when police neared Carillo’s residence, he ambushed them and killed another officer, Damon Gutzwiller.
He was tracked down and arrested after he stole another vehicle and attempted to escape.
Officials said the Air Force security specialist was associated with the underground “boogaloo bois” ideology, which espouses a mix of anti-government extremism and civil and race war.
Its followers often openly carry assault weapons and wear military-like garb in public.
According to local reports, Carillo – who had weapons, ammunition and materials for bombs in his van and home – wrote “boog” on the hood of a car in his own blood when he was arrested.
“The boogaloo term is used by extremists to reference a violent uprising or impending civil war in the US,” said US Attorney David Anderson on Tuesday during a press conference in Oakland.
It was the second case of far-right extremists being arrested in relation to the protests against police brutality that swept the nation after the May 25 killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, since charged with murder.
US President Donald Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr have both repeatedly claimed that the protests and riots in a number of cities were driven by leftists of the “antifa” or anti-fascist movement.
But of hundreds of arrests nationwide, no evidence has been presented yet of organised leftists promoting violence in the demonstrations.
On June 3, Las Vegas police arrested three men also associated with the boogaloo movement and charged them for attempting to incite riot and start fires during a Black Lives Matter protest.
The three, two formerly in the military and one in the army reserve, had originally sought to stir up violence in mid-May protests against the coronavirus shutdown, the indictment said, citing a confidential FBI source.
On May 30, they decided to try to use the protests over Floyd’s death as a cover to stir up violence, preparing guns, ammunition and Molotov cocktails.
One “was very upset that the protests were not turning violent,” the indictment said.