Skip to main content
Press Release

Final Defendant in 2020 Drive-by-Shooting of Court Security Officers Sentenced to Life in Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California
Defendant Joined Anti-Government Extremist Movement Before Driving the Van from Which Gunshots Were Fired Killing One Federal Officer and Wounding Another

SAN FRANCISCO – Robert Alvin Justus, Jr. was sentenced today to life in prison for his role in the May 29, 2020, drive-by shooting at the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Oakland, Calif., that resulted in the murder of Protective Services Officer (“PSO”) Dave Patrick Underwood and the attempted murder of a second PSO.  The sentence was handed down by the Hon. Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, United States District Judge, after Justus was convicted by a jury of aiding and abetting the murder and attempted murder following a two-week trial.  In 2022, Justus’s co-defendant Steven Carrillo, was sentenced to serve 41 years in prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release for his role in the crimes.

“With this sentence, the Justice Department has ensured that both of the defendants responsible for brutally murdering a law enforcement officer and seriously wounding another are held accountable for their heinous crimes,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Law enforcement officers serve their communities at great risk to themselves, and anyone who targets these brave men and women will be met with the full force of the Justice Department.”

“The defendant and Mr. Carrillo tried to destabilize our government by attacking the courts, killing one protective services officer and wounding another as they guarded the federal courthouse,” said U.S. Attorney Ismail Ramsey for the Northern District of California.  “The loss of Mr. Underwood to his family, friends, and the community is incalculable, and the wounding of the second officer has permanently altered his life and that of his family.  Today's sentence punishes this heinous conduct and signals any like-minded individuals who would attack those guarding our courts and other public institutions that we will find and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.”

"Justus and Carrillo ambushed two federal protective service officers in fulfillment of a conspiracy fueled by extremist beliefs. Now they will both spend the rest of their lives in prison,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert K. Tripp. “The senseless murder of Officer Underwood and the serious injury done to Officer Mifkovic cannot be undone, but these two subjects have been held accountable. We will continue to stand with our partners to investigate politically motivated acts of violence and keep the American people safe.”

“ATF is pleased to hear today’s sentence,” said Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Cicolani, San Francisco Field Division, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Every day members of law enforcement put their lives on the line in the pursuit of ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the public. This was a senseless crime that resulted in the tragic loss of Protective Services Officer Underwood. While, this verdict does not bring him back, we hope that his family and our community as a whole can find comfort in knowing that this violent offender will  spend the rest of his life in jail.”

The evidence at trial established that Justus, 34, 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.  On May 29, 2020, at approximately 9:27 p.m., Justus parked a white Ford Econoline van directly across the street from the federal courthouse 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 image below showing the shooting in progress as Justus drove the white van across the intersection is from a courthouse security camera and was in evidence at trial.

A picture of a four-way intersection at night with cars and trees lining the road.

From a courthouse security camera, the image shows the shooting in progress as Justus drove the white van across the intersection.

The trial ending in Justus’s conviction contained ominous evidence of the leadup to participation in the drive-by shooting.  For example, Justus and Carrillo shared an allegiance to a  anti-government movement called Boogaloo.  In February of 2020, Justus commented on Facebook that he had a “bloodlust for police,” and in April 2020, he 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.”  In addition, 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 trial evidence demonstrated that on the day of the shooting Carrillo and Justus planned to capitalize on protests being planned in Oakland in response to the death of George Floyd. They hoped their attack would spark further anti-government violence. Carrillo and Justus met in a parking lot in San Leandro before the two circled the downtown area in Oakland several times.  In the hour leading up to the shooting, Justus exited the van twice to scout the area on foot and locate targets.  Investigators from the FBI, OPD and other agencies located security video footage from numerous locations throughout Oakland showing Justus’s movements on both occasions when he left the white van but returned before the shooting.  After the shooting, Justus drove Carrillo back to Millbrae and the two separated.

The incident set off an eight-day manhunt.  During this time, 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 meeting in the future.  Eventually, Carrillo was captured at his residence in Ben Lomond, Calif., -- but not before Carrillo killed a Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Deputy and injured another.  Several days later, Justus became aware that he was under investigation and travelled to the Federal Building in San Francisco where he met with the FBI and admitted to his involvement in the shooting.

The jury convicted Justus of Aiding and Abetting the Murder of a Federal Employee and Aiding and Abetting the Attempted Murder of a Federal Employee, both in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1114(3), 1111, 2.  Pursuant to today’s sentence, Justus will serve the rest of his life in prison pursuant to the aiding and abetting murder charge and a twenty-year concurrent sentence pursuant to the aiding and abetting attempted murder charge.

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.

The FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the FPS, and the U.S. Marshal Service investigated the case, with assistance from the Oakland Police Department and the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office.

Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan U. Lee and John C. Bostic are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Trial Attorney Jessica Fender of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section, Yenni Weinberg, and Lynette Dixon.

Updated March 18, 2024