A federal jury convicted Robert Alvin Justus, Jr. of aiding and abetting the murder of Protective Services Officer (“PSO”) Dave Patrick Underwood and aiding and abetting the attempted murder of a second PSO in the May 29, 2020, drive-by shooting at the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Oakland, Calif., announced U.S. Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey, FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert K. Tripp, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) San Francisco Field Division Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Cicolani. The verdict follows a two-week trial before the Hon. Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, United States District Judge.
The evidence at trial established that Justus, 33, of Millbrae, was the driver of the vehicle from which Steven Carrillo, 35, of Santa Cruz fired the gunshots that killed Officer Underwood and wounded the second officer. The trial evidence demonstrated that, at approximately 9:27 p.m., on May 29, 2020, Justus parked a white Ford Econoline van directly across the street from the federal building in Oakland on Jefferson Street. The van was on the southeast corner in the spot closest to the intersection with an unobstructed view of the guard post where Officer Underwood and his partner that evening stood guard to protect the building and its occupants. At approximately 9:44 p.m., the exterior lights of the van turned on and Justus drove the van north on Jefferson Street toward the guard post. The passenger-side sliding door opened, and Carrillo fired numerous rounds from an AR-style rifle toward the guard post, killing Officer Underwood and seriously injuring his partner.
The incident set off an eight-day manhunt that resulted in Carrillo’s capture at his residence in Ben Lomond, Calif., — but not before Carrillo killed a Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Deputy and injured another. Carrillo opened fire on the deputies when they arrived at his property. Several days later, after Justus became aware that he was under investigation, he travelled to the Federal Building in San Francisco, met with the FBI, and admitted to his involvement in the shooting including his role as the driver of the vehicle. Justus claimed—during that meeting and in his trial testimony—that Carrillo had forced him to participate in the shooting against his will.
The trial evidence established that Justus and Carrillo shared an allegiance to a right-wing anti-government movement called Boogaloo. Both men’s social media activity and other correspondence in the months before the shooting demonstrated a strong desire to carry out violent acts against federal law enforcement officers and other public servants. In February of 2020, Justus commented on Facebook that he had a “bloodlust for police.” In April 2020, Justus corresponded with an armed anti-government militia group he was interested in joining. On May 27, 2020, Justus posted an image depicting a police officer being shot in the head with a caption reading “Speak to cops in a language they understand.” On the day before the shooting, Carrillo posted a video of a mob attacking police cruisers and commented, “[T]his needs to be nationwide. It’s a great opportunity to target the specialty soup bois”—a Boogaloo slang term for federal agents. Justus responded to Carrillo’s post that same day, writing “Let’s boogie.” The following day, the two met in a San Leandro parking lot to go to Oakland. They planned to capitalize on protests that night in response to the death of George Floyd, hoping that their attack would spark further anti-government violence.
The trial evidence also showed that, after arriving in Oakland the evening of May 29, Justus and Carrillo circled the downtown area several times. In the hour leading up to the shooting, Justus exited the van twice to scout the area on foot and locate targets, returning to the van both times. Following the fatal shooting, Justus drove Carrillo back to Milbrae and the two separated. In the days following the murder, Justus destroyed digital and physical evidence connecting him to the shooting, continued to post anti-law enforcement content on Facebook, and corresponded with Carrillo about future meetings.
The jury convicted Justus of murder of a federal employee and attempted murder of a federal employee, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1114(3), 1111. Justus now faces a mandatory term of life in prison. Judge Gonzalez Rogers scheduled Justus’s sentencing hearing for February 24, 2024.
On February 11, 2022, Carrillo pleaded guilty to two federal charges related to the May 29, 2020, shooting—use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence resulting in death, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(j)(1) and 2, and attempted murder of a person assisting an officer of the United States Government, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1114(3), 1111. On June 3, 2022, Judge Gonzalez Rogers sentenced Carrillo to serve 41 years in prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release for his role in the crimes. Carrillo also received a life sentence in Santa Cruz County Superior Court in connection with his murder of the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Deputy.
Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan U. Lee and John C. Bostic are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Patricia Mahoney, Yenni Weinberg, and Lynette Dixon. The case is being investigated by the FBI, the ATF, the FPS, and the U.S. Marshal Service with assistance from the Oakland Police Department and the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office.