Travis airman appears in court in sergeant's slaying

An Air Force staff sergeant made a brief court appearance on Friday but did not enter a plea to charges that he shot and killed a Santa Cruz County sheriff's sergeant.

Steven Carrillo, 32, has been charged with murder and the special circumstances of murder of a peace officer and lying in wait in the shooting death of Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller.

Santa Cruz County District Attorney Jeff Rosell said Carrillo tried to kill several other law-enforcement officers during a rampage on Saturday.

"Attempted murder, four counts of it, on officers, including two officers with an explosive device," Rosell said.

The DA said investigators are looking into Carrillo's history to determine what led up to the crime spree.

"We are still, as I've said, in the process of investigating this individual, his background, connections, if any, to groups," Rosell said.

Carrillo's privately-retained defense attorney, Jeff Stotter said his client "shares an appreciation of the tragic nature and the magnitude of this case."

Stotter said Carrillo had served in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and has suffered “extreme personal loss" as well as a traumatic brain injury in the past. But he said it’s unclear whether those issues played a role.

"I’m simply pointing out that there are more colors to Mr. Carrillo and what his possible motivation and what his involvement is," Stotter said.

Security at the courthouse was tight. The building was filled with deputies. Law-enforcement snipers in military fatigues took up positions on the roof.

But Carrillo wasn't even in Santa Cruz on Friday. He appeared remotely from Monterey County Jail, where he's being held to avoid any potential conflicts at Santa Cruz County Jail where Gutzwiller's colleagues work.

The tragedy unfolded on Saturday with reports of a suspicious white van with guns and bomb-making material inside.

Deputies found the van at Carrillo's home in Ben Lomond, where they were met with gunfire and explosions from improvised devices.

Prosecutors also charged Carrillo with attempted murder for allegedly shooting and ramming K-9 Deputy Alex Spencer.

Carrillo will return to court on July 17.