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Sheriff's Sergeant Killed In Santa Cruz County

Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office
Fallen Seargent Damon Gutzwiller.

A vigil has been held for a Santa Cruz County deputy who was killed on Saturday. People gathered outside the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office Sunday to honor Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller.

Gutzwiller, 38, was responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle on Saturday, when police say he was ambushed along with another deputy. 

A call came in early in the afternoon that said a vehicle had been spotted near Boulder Creek. The caller said they saw guns and bomb making materials in the van. 

When the officers arrived, the vehicle had left and was later found at a home in Ben Lomond.

When the deputies began investigating that location, police say they were ambushed with gunfire and multiple improvised explosive devices. 

Gutzwiller was shot and taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead. The other deputy was either shot or struck with shrapnel. He is being treated and officials say they are hopeful he will recover. 

Sheriff Jim Hart spoke at a news conference hours after the death of Gutzwiller.

"In my 33-year-career, this is the worst day that I've ever experienced," said Hart.

Other officers responding to the scene arrested Steven Carrillo. He was reportedly armed and shot during his arrest. The suspect survived and will be arrested for murder and other felonies.

Hart said the District Attorney's office are investigating the case, along with the FBI.  

"There's a lot that we don't know at this point. Still a very fluid situation," said Hart.

Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller was with the Santa Cruz County's Sheriff's Office since 2006. He is survived by his pregnant wife and young child.

From 2019 to 2021 Michelle Loxton worked at KAZU as an All Things Considered host and reporter. During that time she reported on a variety of topics from the coronavirus pandemic, the opioid epidemic and local elections. Loxton was part of the news team that won a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for the continued coverage of the four major wildfires that engulfed California’s Central Coast in 2020.