OAKLAND – In the weeks before a gunman killed two officers in separate shootings last year, prosecutors say he and other members of an extremist militia known as the Grizzly Scouts staged firearms training, organized demonstrations and defined the terms of the “war” against the police.
In recent court records, federal Bay Area prosecutors have revealed the most detailed details to date about the investigation into the Fatal shot of May 29, 2020 Federal Protective Service Officer Dave Patrick Underwood in Oakland, and Murder on June 6, 2020 of Santa Cruz Sheriff Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller in an ambush in Ben Lomond.
The documents paint a picture of the alleged shooter, Steven Carrillo, not as a lone actor, but as a member of a Northern California-based anti-government organization that in its rhetoric and actions braced for attacks murderous against the police. The Grizzly Scouts – most of whom are still at large – identify with a loosely affiliated national militia movement that uses the name “Boogaloo” and promotes Hawaiian shirts and violent rhetoric, but Scout activities appear to be more carefully mapped out. .
Court documents were filed in the case against four other alleged members of the Grizzly Scouts, including the group leader, who are accused of destroying evidence relevant to the investigations into the Underwood and Gutzwiller murders. They were drawn up as part of an unsuccessful attempt to keep the four accused in jail pending trial; a federal magistrate ultimately ruled that three of them were neither a danger to the community nor a risk of absconding.
In April, a the federal grand jury 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, charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice. Blancas, the only defendant who remains in prison, also faces a child seduction charge related to alleged sexual conversations with a teenage girl which were discovered during the investigation.
The documents not only confirm Carrillo as one of some 25 militia members, but detail the group’s alleged activities in mid-2020: from training near Rush’s home to Turlock, creating a “reaction force. Fast ”or QRF, and plans to send a member to light up a protest in Sacramento.
The documents allege that in a document titled “Operations Order”, the militia described law enforcement officers as “enemy forces” and raised the possibility of taking prisoners, writing that “prisoners of war will be searched for information and material, questioned, undressed, blindfolded, hunted and released in the desert blindfolded, hands tied.
On May 26, Carrillo reportedly told Ybarra that he wanted to carry out a “cartel style” attack and Ybarra responded by saying that they had to meet in person to discuss it further. The meeting allegedly took place the next day, inside Carrillo’s van, where they discussed and assembled an assault rifle, prosecutors said.
Two days later, Carrillo reportedly encountered another Boogaloo Bay area man, Robert Justus, and then opened fire on a guardhouse in the Ron Dellums Federal Building, killing Underwood and injuring his partner. Before heading to Oakland, Carrillo reportedly texted Ybarra to tell him he was going to “get away with it, you know what this is,” according to prosecutors.
Three days after the Underwood murder, members reportedly discussed the possibility of then-President Donald Trump invoking the Uprising Act following protests over the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
“[T]hat ^^^ will be our sign ”, Rush would have sent to the others. “This effectively means the federal government has declared war on the things they fear.”
Rush previously served in the United States Army, making him the second known member of the militia, along with Carrillo, with military experience. In a conversation with Ybarra, Rush reportedly wrote, “The government spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to train me, I’m going to use this stuff.”
On June 3, the group also reportedly discussed ways to fuel violence between Antifa groups and the police. Blancas reportedly wrote that he was “totally shot” for disguising himself as an Antifa member and igniting violent conflict.
“This is the tactically valid option,” Blancas told other militia members, prosecutors said. “They fuck each other just help us.”
The Boogaloo movement, whose supporters believe America is on the brink of a second civil war, has thrived on social media, said Professor Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism of Cal State San Bernardino, who called the movement “prototypical.” the kind of threat we’ll see in the future.
Extremist movements have moved away from more centralized groups like the Ku Klux Klan, Levin said, into more fluid subcultures that he says borrow from a “buffet” of ideologies that can turn violent more quickly.
“What it allows is a kind of ‘make your own ideology’ extremism. … This is why you will see within these subcultures a mixture of demographics and sometimes even a mixture of political opinions, ”he said. “That’s why we’ve seen an increase in not just the Boogaloo Boys, but things like Q[Anon]. When there is a compelling conspiracy story, no matter how elastic, it can be a place where potentially dangerous people can radicalize others or conspire with similar dangerous people.
Blancas, Rush, Miksch and Ybarra are accused of destroying some of their communications with Carrillo after June 6, when Carrillo allegedly shot Gutzwiller in an ambush outside Carrillo’s home in Ben Lomond. Miksch, who later said he listened to police scanners frequently, reportedly warned Carrillo that the incoming officers had a K-9 unit, but that he didn’t think it was a planned raid. . Carrillo pleaded with the others for backup, but they determined they were too far away to get there on time, prosecutors said.
Mike German, a former FBI agent who infiltrated right-wing militias in the 1990s and is currently a member of the progressive public policy institute Brennan Center for Justice, said he is typical for members of leading militias attacks of trying to present themselves as “lone wolves” in order to protect others from prosecution. This tactic was put in place after a federal case against a white supremacist organization called The Order, which violently robbed and murdered Alan Berg, a prominent Jewish talk show host in the 1980s.
“When they finally got caught, the federal government filed a very broad sedition case,” German said. “They ended up being acquitted, and that prompted the militias to change their tactics to adopt what they called ‘leaderless resistance’.
The Boogaloo movement, which lacks a clear command structure, fits this mold, German said.
Of the four accused of obstruction, only Blancas has remained in custody since the indictment was handed down last month. Ybarra was released by a federal judge in Sacramento, and U.S. magistrate Jacqueline Scott Corley released Rush and Miksch.
During the April detention hearings before US Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley, Assistant US Prosecutor Eric Cheng argued that there was no reason to expect members of a ” armed, violent and anti-government militia ”obey a judge’s order not to rearm or flee the area.
Miksch was released on $ 25,000 bail in the custody of his parents, who insisted their son was a “good child.” Corley, while calling his views “odious,” also released Rush into his wife’s custody on $ 50,000 bail.
Before Corley freed Rush, she asked him if he would agree to the same terms she set for Miksch, including supervised use of the internet, a ban on owning weapons and not contacting other members of the the militia.
“I swear on all that is dear to me, Your Honor,” Rush assured him, his voice full of emotion.
“Good. All you have to do is say ‘Yes’,” replied Corley.