Suspect in slaying of Santa Cruz County deputy charged with murder, lying in wait

An Air Force sergeant accused of killing a Santa Cruz County deputy has been charged with murder and lying in wait. 

The Santa Cruz County District Attorney's Office also charged Steven Carrillo, 32, with attempted murder, assault, carjacking, and possession of explosives. 

If convicted, Carrillo could face life without parole or the death penalty. 

Officials said the suspect had a desire to harm police when he launched a deadly attack on unsuspecting officers on Saturday, killing Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, 38. 

Another deputy was shot in the chest — his bulletproof vest saving him — and suffered shrapnel wounds from an explosive and then was struck by Carrillo’s vehicle as the suspect fled the home.

Carrillo escaped, carjacked a vehicle and tried to carjack several others before being subdued through the herculean efforts of a heroic resident, Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart said.

The man saw Carrillo in his backyard and confronted him. Carrillo, armed with the AR-15, demanded the man’s car keys. The man retrieved the keys, gave them to Carrillo and when Carrillo turned away the man tackled him and the rifle fell away from him.

As they struggled, Carrillo pulled a pipe bomb from his pants and tried unsuccessfully to light it. He then pulled out a pistol and the man was able to knock it out of his hands and then subdue him as neighbors came to help, Hart said.

“This guy could have done a lot more damage in our community,” Hart said.

The man who subdued Carrillo does not want to be publicly identified, Hart said, but he plans to award him a medal.

The FBI is also investigating whether Carillo is linked to the killing of a federal security officer who was shot outside the Ronald V. Dellums Courthouse in Oakland on May 29. That incident during a protest over the death of George Floyd. Both killings involved shooters in a white van.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.