Sheriff's Deputy Killed In Santa Cruz County Shooting Ambush

Keith Menconi
June 06, 2020 - 5:19 pm

    A Santa Cruz County Sheriff's deputy has been killed and another remains in the hospital following a shooting Saturday afternoon in Ben Lomond.

    Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart said it was his worst day on the job in announcing the death of Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, who was killed when a suspect ambushed him after a brief pursuit. Sgt. Gutzwiller and others had followed the suspect after they were initially dispatched to investgate a suspicious van parked off the road at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

    Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Deputy Damon Gutzwiller was killed in the shooting Saturday afternoon in Ben Lomond.
    Keith Menconi/KCBS Radio

    "When deputies arrived, the van was seen leaving the area," Sheriff Hart said. "Deputies tried to follow the van and finally found it at a home on Waldeberg Ave. in Ben Lomond. As deputies began investigating, they were ambushed with gunfire and multiple improvised explosives."

    At least two other officers were hurt. Sgt. Gutzwiller was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

    The suspect has been identified as 32-year-old Stephen Carrillo. We're told he's in the hospital being treated for a gunshot wound and will be charged with first-degree murder, along with other felonies, once he's released. Deputies are still looking into whether other suspects were involved. In addition to the explosives, Carrillo reportedly owned multiple assault rifles.

    The U.S. Air Force confirmed Sunday that the suspect was an active duty sergeant stationed at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield.

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation said Sunday that Carrillo's white van could also be the same vehicle used in a deadly shooting at a federal building in Oakland that left one federal contract security guard dead and another wounded. Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli said the Ben Lomond shooting is "an act of terrorism."

    The 38-year-old Sgt. Gutzwiller leaves behind a wife and young child, with another on the way. There is a memorial service for Sgt. Gutzwiller planned for 2:26 p.m. Sunday outside the Santa Cruz Sheriff's Department.

    "Words cannot express the pain we feel for Damon and his family," Sheriff Hart said in a news release. "He was the kind of person we all hope to be. Today, we lost a hero. We are grateful to have known him and we mourn with his family."

    In a statement, Gov. Gavin Newsom said: "Jennifer and I extend our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and coworkers of Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller, who was tragically killed while on duty today. He will be remembered as a hero who devoted his life to protecting the community and as a loving husband and father."

    This is the first death in his department since the early 1980s.

    Both the sheriff's department and FBI are investigating.