For as long as the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests began gathering momentum, there were rumors of infiltration of the protests by outside groups. Much of the focus, at first, was placed on alleged anarchist or anti-fascist groups destroying public and corporate property. But as the massive protests stretch into their fourth week, attention has shifted to extremist libertarian and far-right groups using the protests as cover to incite a race war.
On Tuesday, federal authorities charged Air Force Staff Sgt. Steven Carillo with murder and attempted murder in the fatal shooting of a federal security officer outside a federal courthouse in Oakland on May 29.
As the Washington Post reports, Carillo is a “Boogaloo Boy,” a decentralized and extremist movement comprising mostly young white men (surprise) who are advocating for a second civil war. While there’s a range of political ideologies in the movement—some are blatant white supremacists eager to kick off a race war, while others are more libertarian in their beliefs (so, just milder racists?)—where they are aligned is in their desire to overthrow the government.
They first began getting nationwide attention during the COVID-19 social distancing protests, where they dressed up in Hawaiian shirts and whined very loudly about government overreach during a pandemic. Libertarian and white supremacist groups being who they are, they also attended those protests heavily armed.
Authorities investigating Carillo tracked the 32-year-old’s online activity prior to the Oakland protests last month. According to the FBI, Carillo ambushed two security officers, injuring one and killing the other, with Robert Alvin Justus Jr., who confessed to being the getaway driver.
From the Washington Post:
“It’s on our coast now, this needs to be nationwide,” Carrillo allegedly posted in a group chat with Justus and one other person, referring to a YouTube video showing a crowd of protesters attacking two California Highway Patrol vehicles. “It’s a great opportunity to target the specialty soup bois. Keep that energy going.”
“Let’s boogie,” Justus allegedly replied.
The term “soup bois” has been used in Boogaloo memes to refer to the “alphabet soup” of federal law enforcement agencies ranging from the FBI to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to the Federal Protective Service (FPS). Facebook messages also show that Justus and Carrillo planned to use nearby protests as a distraction, knowing police resources would be focused on preventing rioting and looting, the criminal complaint alleges.
The killing led to a nationwide manhunt that lasted more than a week. Before Carillo was apprehended, he shot and killed a police officer, Santa Cruz County Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, and critically injured another sheriff’s deputy, reports NBC News.
An attorney for Carrillo, Jeffrey Stotter, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel that the public should not “rush to judgment” about the killings, adding to NBC News that Carrillo suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2009 and was still shaken by his wife’s suicide in 2018.
Carillo could face the death penalty if convicted for murder, and up to 20 years in prison if convicted for attempted murder. The same penalties would apply to Justus if he’s convicted on aiding and abetting charges.