Air Force Sgt. Steven Carrillo, accused in 2 murders, belonged to militia plotting 'war' against cops: report

'Grizzly Scouts' members are still at large, federal prosecutors said

The Air Force sergeant accused of killing two law enforcement officers in California last year belonged to a militia group that was plotting a "war" against police, including taking cops as prisoners, stripping them naked and leaving them "blindfolded with [their] hands bound" in the wilderness, a report says. 

The claims surrounding the alleged inner workings of the Grizzly Scouts emerged this week as the Santa Cruz Sentinel cited court documents that show the suspected gunman, Steven Carrillo, was not a lone actor but a member of an anti-government group that was preparing for more deadly attacks on law enforcement.  

Carrillo has pleaded not guilty to the May 29, 2020 fatal shooting of Federal Protective Service Officer Dave Patrick Underwood in Oakland and the June 6, 2020 killing of Santa Cruz Sheriff Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller in an ambush in the community of Ben Lomond. 

This booking photo from the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office shows Steven Carrillo.  Carrillo, an Air Force sergeant, is accused of killing two law enforcement officers in California last year was part of a right-wing militia known as the Grizzly Scouts that held firearms trainings, scouted protests, and laid out terms of "war" against police, a newspaper reported Monday. (AP/Santa Cruz Sheriff's Office)

This booking photo from the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office shows Steven Carrillo.  Carrillo, an Air Force sergeant, is accused of killing two law enforcement officers in California last year was part of a right-wing militia known as the Grizzly Scouts that held firearms trainings, scouted protests, and laid out terms of "war" against police, a newspaper reported Monday. (AP/Santa Cruz Sheriff's Office)

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The filings cited by the newspaper allege that, in a document entitled "Operations Order," the right-wing militia described law enforcement officers as "enemy forces" and spoke of the possibility of taking some prisoner, writing: "POWs will be searched for intel and gear, interrogated, stripped naked, blindfolded, driven away and released into the wilderness blindfolded with hands bound." 

The group also allegedly discussed ways to stir up violence between Antifa groups and police. 

The court filings were submitted in the case against four other alleged Grizzly Scouts members, including the group’s leader, who are accused of destroying evidence relevant to the Underwood and Gutzwiller murder investigations. 

They were submitted as part of an attempt to keep all four defendants in jail pending trial, the Associated Press reports. A federal magistrate ultimately decided three of them were not a danger to the community and did not pose flight risks. 

Santa Cruz Sheriff Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller was shot and killed June 2020 in Ben Lomond, an unincorporated area near Santa Cruz, Calif., when he and two other law enforcement officers were ambushed. (AP/Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office)

Santa Cruz Sheriff Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller was shot and killed June 2020 in Ben Lomond, an unincorporated area near Santa Cruz, Calif., when he and two other law enforcement officers were ambushed. (AP/Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office)

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In April, a federal grand jury had indicted Jessie Alexander Rush, 29, of Turlock; Robert Jesus Blancas, 33, of Castro Valley; Simon Sage Ybarra, 23, of Los Gatos; and Kenny Matthew Miksch, 21, of San Lorenzo, on charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice. Blancas, the only defendant who remains in jail, also faces a child enticement charge related to alleged sexual conversations with a teen girl that were discovered during the investigation. 

The filings not only confirm Carrillo as one of the militia’s roughly 25 members, but detail the group’s alleged activities in mid-2020: trainings near Rush’s home in Turlock, the creation of a "Quick Reaction Force" or QRF, and plans to send a member to scout out a protest in Sacramento. 

Blancas allegedly wrote that he was "totally down" to disguise himself as an Antifa member and spark a violent conflict. 

"It’s the tactically sound option," Blancas told other militia members, according to prosecutors. 

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Most members of the Grizzly Scouts are still at large, federal prosecutors said.  

The group identifies with a loosely affiliated, nationwide militia movement that uses the name "Boogaloo" and favors Hawaiian shirts and violent rhetoric, but the Scouts’ activities appear to be more carefully plotted, the newspaper reported. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.