4 Alleged 'Boogaloo' Members Charged With Obstructing Probe Into Police Killings
Four members of a militia group associated with the extremist "boogaloo" movement have been indicted on obstruction charges related to the killing and an attempted killing of two federal law enforcement officers in California last year, the Department of Justice announced on Friday.
The indictment alleges that Jessie Alexander Rush, 29; Robert Jesus Blancas, 33; Simon Sage Ybarra, 23; and Kenny Matthew Miksch, 21 — members of a Northern California-based militia group — conspired to destroy communications and other evidence linked to the killing of Federal Protective Services Officer Dave Patrick Underwood last May, and the killing of Santa Cruz Sheriff's Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller the following week.
The shootings happened amid protests against police brutality in the Bay Area following the death of George Floyd.
Steven Carillo, another person with alleged ties to boogaloo, has already been charged with murder and attempted murder in connection to those two incidents. Authorities said Carrillo allegedly opened fire in front of a federal building in Oakland, killing Underwood and injuring another officer, the Associated Press reported. In the Santa Cruz town of Ben Lemond on June 6, authorities said Carrillo attacked sheriff's deputies who'd been responding to a report of a van containing explosive materials and other weapons, killing Gutzwiller and wounding several other law enforcement officials.
Last April, prosecutors said in the news release, the four indicted alleged boogaloo members connected in a Facebook group bearing the signposts of the anti-government movement.
In the days leading up to the shootings, they messaged each other via a WhatsApp group, where conversations "repeatedly referenced 'boog' and tactics involving the killing of police officers and other law enforcement," prosecutors said.
Among the exchanges that occurred on the day of the June killing, according to the indictment, a member of the so-called "Grizzly Scouts," as the militia group called themselves, allegedly told the group of his plans to shoot law enforcement and requested the assistance of his fellow members.
"The indictment alleges Rush immediately instructed the Grizzly Scout member on the WhatsApp group to delete evidence on his phone," the news release said. "In addition, the indictment alleges that less than an hour after the shooting in Ben Lomond, Blancas deleted files related to the Grizzly Scouts from a Dropbox account. Further, within hours of the shooting, members of the Grizzly Scouts including Rush, Blancas, Ybarra, and Miksch allegedly began to reconnect on an alternative communications application."
All four members allegedly deleted WhatsApp group messages on their phones.
If convicted, the defendants, all of whom are currently in custody, each face a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for each charge.
It was not immediately known if the four men who were indicted have lawyers who could comment on their behalf.
Two followers of the boogaloo movement — a loosely-defined far-right group that seeks to incite a civil war and has incorporated several facets of other extremist groups — were arrested for allegedly inciting a riot in Louisville, Ky., at the same time as the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol.
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