Santa Cruz Co. sheriff’s sergeant killed, 2 other officers shot in ambush; suspect wounded and in custody

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A Northern California sheriff’s deputy was killed and two law enforcement officers wounded Saturday when they were ambushed with gunfire and explosives while pursuing a suspect, authorities said.

Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, 38, was shot and killed in Ben Lomond, an unincorporated area near Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart said. A second deputy was injured, and a third officer from the California Highway Patrol was shot in his hand, Hart said.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, 38, pictured in a photo released by the agency after he was shot and killed in the line of duty on June 6, 2020.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, 38, pictured in a photo released by the agency after he was shot and killed in the line of duty on June 6, 2020.

Gutzwiller “was a beloved figure here at the sheriff’s office,” the sheriff said.

“Damon showed up today to do his job, to keep this community safe, and his life was taken needlessly,” a visibly shaken Hart said.

The suspect, Steven Carrillo, 38, was shot during his arrest and was being treated at the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries, Hart said. The Sheriff’s Department and the FBI are investigating.

The deputies responded to a 911 call around 1:30 p.m. about a suspicious van. The caller said there were guns and bomb-making devices inside, Hart said.

When deputies arrived, the van pulled away and the deputies followed. The van went down a driveway at Carrillo’s home and the deputies were ambushed by gunfire and explosives after getting out of their vehicle.

Gutzwiller was wounded and later died at a hospital. Another deputy was wounded by gunfire or shrapnel and struck by a vehicle as the suspect fled.

Carrillo attempted to carjack a vehicle and was wounded while being arrested.

Hart said Carrillo was taken to the hospital for treatment and would be charged with first-degree murder.

The shooting shocked Ben Lomond, a town of about 6,000 people tucked up in the Santa Cruz mountains.

Resident Kathy Crocker brought a bouquet to the sheriff’s office as Hart gave a news conference about the shootings.

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