• U.S. Air Force Sgt. Steven Carillo was charged with 19 felonies in the ambush-killing of a police officer, wounding two others
  • Prosecutors have not said if they will pursue the death penalty 
  • Carillo allegedly wrote messages in blood on the hood of a car tied to a right-wing extremist group seeking to start a second American civil war

U.S. Air Force Sgt. Steven Carillo, 32, was held Friday on charges stemming from the ambush-killing of a sheriff’s deputy in California. Authorities said they suspect Carillo had ties to a right-wing extremist group after allegedly writing the group’s name and catchphrase in blood on a car before his arrest.

Carillo was charged Thursday in Santa Cruz with 19 felonies related to the ambush. The charges include murder, attempted murder, making and detonating explosive charges, and carjacking.

District Attorney Jeffrey Rosell accused Carillo of lying in wait for the officers, making him eligible for the death penalty though Rosell has not said if he will pursue it.

The alleged attack took place on June 6 when the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office received a call about a suspicious man driving a van filled with firearms and explosives. The officers, identified as Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller and Deputy Alex Spencer found the van and followed it to a remote home where they were ambushed.

A pipebomb was detonated in the driveway as as shots were fired at the pair, killing Gutwiller and wounding Spencer. Responding officers and firefighters also took fire. A California Highway Patrol officer and Carillo were wounded.

Carillo allegedly fled the scene but was arrested shortly after an attempted carjacking outside a local shopping plaza.

Shortly before he was arrested, Carillo allegedly wrote “boog” and “I became unreasonable” on the hood of a nearby car. Investigators said the words referred to the right-wing extremist group/movement called Boogaloo that began on public forum sites like 4chan with the goal of inciting a second American civil war.

“Elements of The Boogaloo have evolved from a gathering of militia enthusiasts and Second Amendment advocates into a full-fledged violent extremist group, which inspires lone wolf actors and cell-like actors alike,” Network Contagion Research Institute director Joel Finkelstein told NBC News.

A small handful of the movement’s members were seen among the various George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests across the U.S. since they began. They were typically seen sporting Hawaiian shirts under military gear and armed with assault rifles. Several were charged for attempting to incite violence at the protests, including three men at the Las Vegas protests on June 3 who allegedly had Molotov cocktails.

The phrase “I became unreasonable” is a phrase originally used by anti-government extremist Marvin Heemeyer, best known for bulldozing 13 buildings in Granby, Colorado, over a zoning dispute before killing himself on June 4, 2004.

Elon University computer science Professor Megan Squire said Heemeyer is celebrated by groups like Boogaloo online and referred to as “Killdozer” for his actions.

“Killdozer represents the intersection between the libertarian ideal of small government and the militant fantasy of the Boogaloo,” Squire said. “Heemeyer, as Killdozer, meticulously planned a revenge fantasy on some local government entities that he blamed for excessive regulation of his business.”

Authorities said Carillo was also active on Facebook with libertarian, anti-police and pro-gun groups.

police tape
Campus police officers John Painter and J.J. Jefferson were fatally shot at the Bridgewater College Tuesday afternoon. In this representational image, a police tape hangs across North Camden Street in Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 24, 2018. Stephen Maturen/Getty Images