It’s becoming clear that the “Boogaloo Bois” who have been filling Facebook and other social media platforms with their increasingly violent scenarios about engaging in a civil war—beginning with civil authorities as the chief targets, expanding to include racial and ethnic minorities, and finally including their ordinary neighbors—are not content to merely keep fantasies online.
A 32-year-old Air Force sergeant with special combat training tried to make the “Boogaloo” a reality this week in Santa Cruz, California, when he embarked on a killing rampage targeting law enforcement officers, ambushing two sheriff’s deputies, killing one, and severely wounding another. He then was stopped by a determined neighbor before he could get any farther. On the hood of his car, he had scrawled in blood: “I became unreasonable” and “Boog.”
It shortly emerged that Steven Carrillo is also the primary suspect in the shootings of two federal protective services officers (one of whom died) last month in Oakland during street protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. There has been previous evidence that so-called “Boogaloo” fans have been involved in some of the violence at the anti-police brutality protests around the nation.
Following reports of a van in the Santa Cruz mountains matching the description of one that witnesses identified at the scene in Oakland, deputies arrived at the scene of what turned out to be Carrillo’s mountain compound stocked with guns, bombs, and ammunition just as the van pulled away. They followed it to a home in Ben Lomond, where Carrillo had retreated, and when deputies went to arrest him, he unleashed a torrent of gunfire and pipe bombs, killing one deputy and wounding another.
Carrillo, who was wounded during the fight, left the scene in a white sedan, and then was found an hour later after running through his back yard, jumping onto a neighbor’s property, entering his home, and demanding his car keys. After the neighbor obeyed, he seized an opportunity to tackle Carrillo from behind and did so, knocking away his AR-15 in the process, and then knocking away both a pipe bomb and his handgun when he tried to reach for them while on the ground. The neighbor held him there until deputies arrived and took Carrillo away.
On the hood of his car, Carrillo had scrawled a series of messages: “I became unreasonable,” “Boog,” and “Stop the duopoly.” He was also heard to shout the latter slogan during the firefight.
As analyst J.J. McNab observes, the first quote is a reference (often found on far-right message boards and chat rooms, and included in a number of memes related to the “Boogaloo”) to the 2004 bulldozer rampage of a Colorado repairman named Marvin Heemeyer, who destroyed multiple buildings before killing himself. He had left behind a note investigators found explaining his motives: “I was always willing to be reasonable until I had to be unreasonable,” he wrote. “Sometimes reasonable men must do unreasonable things.”
“Boog” is a common shortened reference to the “Boogaloo.” “Stop the duopoly” is a popular libertarian slogan, referencing the grip on power held by the U.S.’s two dominant political parties. Friends said Carrillo is an active libertarian.
People who knew Carrillo in the Air Force spoke poorly of him. “He was the type that couldn’t keep his mouth shut. He was too narcissistic. It would always be ‘me this, me that. I’m the best. Me, me.’ He was very dominant,” said one former fellow member of the Air Force’s elite-training squad Phoenix Ravens, a special security force to protect aircraft from terrorist and “criminal threats.”
His friends told the Mercury News that Carrillo’s political leanings in the past year had taken an extremist turn. One friend said he was sharing “Boogaloo” memes on Facebook that were “disturbing.” Among the common topics on “Boogaloo” pages are open discussions about opening fire on federal agents, who are derisively described as “alphabet bois.”
Carrillo now faces 19 felony charges in the Ben Lomond incident. He has not yet been charged in the shootings of the federal officers in Oakland.
The far right’s hopes for a civil war, embodied in the spreading “Boogaloo” cult, are increasingly less a fantasy and more of a real-life, looming domestic terrorism problem. Recent incidents are making clear that men swept up in the movement are increasingly intent on making it a reality:
- A Texarkana, Texas, man who intended to spark the “Boogaloo” by ambushing police officers was caught by officers who were alerted by his attempt to livestream his planned killing spree, went to his location and arrested him shortly thereafter.
- A “Boogaloo” enthusiast who posted comments on Facebook about bringing his rifle to an anti-stay-at-home-orders protest in Denver attracted the interest of FBI agents, who upon visiting him at his home discovered a cache of homemade pipe bombs. The man openly expressed his intent to use them to kill any federal agents who tried to invade his home.
- Another “Boogaloo Boi” planned to livestream his ambush on police officers at an Ohio national park, but was arrested by FBI agents before he could pull off the plan.
- A trio of men with connections to Facebook “Boogaloo” groups were arrested en route to a Houston anti-police protest with a load of Molotov cocktails they intended to use to spread chaos at the event.
Posted with permission from Daily Kos.