SAN FRANCISCO (KION) A federal grand jury indicted four men on charges related to trying to destroy records related to the investigation into Steven Carrillo's alleged role in the murder of a federal officer in April, but now only one of those men is still in law enforcement custody.
Court documents show that three of the suspects are listed as "not in custody" or "released." Those suspects are identified as 29-year-old Jessie Alexander Rush of Turlock, 23-year-old Simon Sage Ybarra of Los Gatos and 21-year-old Kenny Matthew Miksch.
Robert Jesus Blancas, 33, of Castro Valley is still in custody, but he faces an additional child enticement charge related to reports of sexual conversations with a teenage girl that were found during the investigation.
According to the indictment released by the U.S. Attorney's Office, Rush, Blancas, Ybarra, Miksch and Carrillo were all members of the Grizzly Scout militia group, which identifies with the boogaloo movement, and was reportedly founded by Rush in March or April 2020. It is believed that the group used WhatsApp and a Facebook group to communicate as early as April 4 through June 6, 2020. They also sometimes met for gun training and discussed violence against law enforcement over messaging applications.
Court filings not only show Carrillo as one of the militia’s roughly 25 members, but detail the group’s alleged activities in mid-2020: training near Rush’s home in Turlock, the creation of a “Quick Reaction Force” or QRF, and plans to send a member to scout out a protest in Sacramento.
The filings allege that, in a document entitled “Operations Order,” the militia described law enforcement officers as “enemy forces” and spoke of the possibility of taking some prisoner, writing that, “POWs will be searched for intel and gear, interrogated, stripped naked, blindfolded, driven away and released into the wilderness blindfolded with hands bound.”
Rush previously served in the U.S. military, making him the second known member of the militia, along with Carrillo, with military experience.
The group also allegedly discussed ways to stir up violence between Antifa groups and police. Blancas allegedly wrote that he was “totally down” to disguise himself as an Antifa member and spark a violent conflict.
“It’s the tactically sound option,” Blancas told other militia members, according to prosecutors.
The charges against Rush, Blancas, Ybarra and Miksch are related to their alleged attempts to alter, destroy or conceal records related to the Grizzly Scouts so they could not be used in investigations related to the murder of a federal officer in Oakland.
Carrillo is one of two people charged for the murder of Protective Security Officer Pat Underwood in Oakland.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Carrillo was the passenger in a white van driven by Robert Alvin Justus Jr. when he opened fire on two officers, injuring one of them and killing Underwood. He is charged with murder and attempted murder in connection to that shooting.
By at least June 1 and through June 6, the group reportedly discussed tactics for killing law enforcement in a WhatsApp group.
On June 6, Carrillo allegedly killed Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office in what law enforcement called an ambush in Ben Lomond. Minutes before the shooting, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Carrillo messaged the group saying that he was preparing for a shoot-out with law enforcement and asked Rush, Blancas, Ybarra and Miksch for help. He later messaged the group to say he "offed a fed."
At that point, investigators said Rush told Carrillo over the app to "factory reset" his phone to delete evidence, and at some point on or before Aug. 6, investigators said the four men deleted records of the group messages from their phones.
Within an hour of the Ben Lomond shooting, investigators said Blancas deleted 20 files related to the Grizzly Scouts from a Dropbox account. Some of the content of the files appeared to include the rank structure, confidentiality agreements, a liability release waiver, descriptions of uniforms and scorecards related to member training.
Within a few hours of the shooting, the U.S. Attorney's Office said the members began to communicate using alternative means, and several enabled an option for disappearing messages.
Investigators say that the group members confirmed to each other several times that they destroyed evidence related to the Grizzly Scouts.
The next hearing for all four suspects is scheduled for July 13.