A California sheriff’s sergeant was killed Saturday in an ambush that left two law enforcement officers injured.
The crime took place about 1:30 p.m. in Santa Cruz County, which is south of San Francisco.
Police “received a call about a suspicious van parked off the road near Jamison Creek, Boulder Creek. The caller saw guns and bomb making materials inside the van. When deputies arrived, the van was seen leaving the area and [deputies] tried to follow it,” the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office reported on its Facebook page.
“As deputies began investigating, they were ambushed with gunfire and multiple improvised explosive devices. Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller was shot and taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead,” the sheriff’s office reported.
“Another deputy was either shot or struck by shrapnel and struck by a car as the suspect fled the property. We are hopeful the deputy will recover,” the department posted.
A California Highway Patrol trooper was also wounded while authorities were pursuing the suspect, according to KTLA.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart said Gutzwiller “was a beloved figure here at the sheriff’s office,” KTLA reported.
“Damon showed up today to do his job, to keep this community safe, and his life was taken needlessly,” Hart told the station.
“In my 32-year career, this is the worst day I’ve ever experienced,” he said, according to KGO.
Santa Cruz Co. S/O responded to a report of a van w/guns & bomb-making devices. They were ambushed w/gunfire & multiple improvised explosives. Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller was killed. 2 others (a deputy & CHP officer) were wounded. R.I.P. Prayers to the officers. https://t.co/nwPGp9FTfv pic.twitter.com/1MNWlpZ8Sx
— Winston Gin (@ufeellucky) June 7, 2020
The sheriff’s office post said that after a report of a carjacking, deputies arrested Steven Carrillo, who was shot during the arrest and received what were described as non-life-threatening injuries. He will face charges when he is discharged from the hospital.
Citing what it said were sources it did not name, KGO said Carillo was “an active duty US Air Force sergeant based out of Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield.”
The station also reported that improvised explosive devices were found at Carillo’s home on Saturday. The FBI is now investigating, KGO reported.
“Words cannot express the pain we feel for Damon and his family,” Hart said in the Facebook post.
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The sergeant had been with the sheriff’s office since 2006.
“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,” Hart said in the post.
Gutzwiller is survived by his wife, who was reported to be pregnant, and one child, according to KSBW.
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