The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office in California has announced the death of one of their deputies. Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller, who worked for the agency since 2006, was shot and killed Saturday when authorities investigated a suspicious van containing guns and explosive devices, according to a Facebook post.
“In this era that we’re in, when you think about what you want to see in a police officer: compassion, caring,” Sheriff Jim Hurt said in a press conference Saturday. “Somebody who truly loves his job, who wants to help people. That’s what Damon was. He was a good man, and a good police officer.”
Hurt said it was the worst day he’d experienced in a 32-year career. He called Gutzwiller a “true hero.”
Deputies said that they got a call at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday about a suspicious, parked van van: The caller claimed to see guns and “bomb making materials” in the vehicle. Authorities arrived, and attempted to follow it before managing to find it at a residence in the area of Ben Lomond.
Deputies began checking it out, but “they were ambushed with gunfire and multiple improvised explosive devices,” according to the post.
Gutzwiller was shot. Another deputy was either shot or struck by shrapnel, and the suspect hit him with a car while fleeing the scene, deputies said. This law enforcement official survived, but Gutzwiller was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Deputies were able to track down the suspect after receiving calls of a carjacking. Authorities arrested the man, identified as Steven Carrillo. The defendant was “reportedly armed” during the encounter with officials, and was shot, deputies said. He received treatment from the hospital, and was released.
The sheriff announced Carrillo faces charges including murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and carjacking. Hurt said that the defendant attempted to carjack another vehicle after the first one.
The Air Force told The Associated Press that Carrillo was an active duty sergeant.
Gutzwiller is survived by his wife and children.
[Image via Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office]
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