Robert Alvin Justus Jr. decided he’d had enough. He wanted to get something off his chest, and he needed the FBI.
Two weeks earlier, Justus drove an unmarked white van past the federal building in Oakland while his acquaintance, a U.S. Air Force sergeant named Steven Carrillo, showered the building’s security booth with bullets, killing one Federal Protective Services security officer and wounding a second guard.
Justus had grown increasingly paranoid since the May 2020 shooting. He’d seen a silver SUV with tinted windows outside his Millbrae apartment, and guessed — accurately, it turned out — that the vehicle belonged to the FBI. But mostly, he feared that fellow followers of the Boogaloo movement —a loosely organized anti-government group that is preparing for a second Civil War —might come after him.
“My life’s been a living hell since then,” Justus told the agents at the beginning of an hours long FBI interrogation in June 2020. He later added, “Honestly, I wish I’d never f—ing did any of this.”
Now, for the first time, a transcript of Justus’ FBI interrogation has been made public, revealing new details about what led up to an assassination committed steps away from a massive George Floyd demonstration. Justus’ trial is scheduled to start next week; he faces charges of murder and attempted murder.
The transcript shows that the 33-year-old father of two attempted to paint himself as an unwilling participant in the murder of 53-year-old FPS Officer Dave “Patrick” Underwood, shoving most of the blame on Carrillo, who by then was behind bars in Santa Cruz County for ambushing police officers there and murdering Sheriff’s Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, following the Underwood killing.
When agents pressed Justus as to why he didn’t do more to stop the Underwood shooting, he pled stupidity.
“I was elected class clown every f—ing year in school,” Justus insisted, according to the transcript. “I don’t pay near as much attention to f—ing anything as I should. I’m a complete dunce.”
According to the prosecutors, the 33-year-old locksmith showed up at the San Francisco federal building at 450 Golden Gate Ave. on June 11, 2020, flanked by his mother and father, who told security at the front that their son wished to pay the FBI a visit.
Based on Justus’ own statements to the FBI, it appears likely Justus will paint himself to jurors as something of a hostage, who believed he was simply going to Oakland that night to protest the police murder of Floyd, but ended up Carrillo’s driver in a mission to “kill as many cops, agents if possible.”
Carrillo pleaded guilty to both Underwood and Gutzwiller’s murders. He was sentenced to 41 years in federal prison for the Oakland shooting, and life without parole for the Ben Lomond ambush. He is currently being housed in Mule Creek State Prison.
The 202-page transcript shows that FBI agents befriended Justus, and asked him to repeat his story three times in great detail. During the interim, they gave him cigarettes and soda, and made small talk about the COVID-19 pandemic, the Revolutionary War, and video games.
Before long, Justus and his father were sitting in a room with multiple FBI agents, who questioned him not just about the May 29, 2020 shooting, but Justus’ communications with followers of the so-called Boogaloo Movement. He said he met Carrillo through a Facebook group for Boogaloo followers called “/K/alifornia Kommando,” which has since been shut down.
“I’m scared,” Justus told his father at one point during the interview.
FBI Agent Richard Harvey assured Justus that he would feel an immense sense of relief if he stayed focus and told the truth.
“Trust me when I tell you this, you are gonna feel 1 million times better once you get this off your chest,” Harvey said.
Justus approached Carrillo’s parked van in the San Leandro police parking lot, and things quickly took a turn for the worst. He said Carrillo pulled back a homemade curtain inside the van, revealing body armor, multiple firearms and molotov cocktails. Then Carrillo spotted an AC Transit bus driver approaching and said he was going to kill him.
“I said, ‘Dude he just looks like some dude on his break. Just don’t, he’s not even paying attention. Don’t do that,’” Justus told the FBI. “(Carrillo) thought about it and said, ‘Yeah, you’re right. Okay.’ Then he went back to filling up more magazines.”
Next, Justus said, Carrillo actually pointed a rifle at him and accused him of being a “cop or a rat.” When Justus reassured him that wasn’t the case, he told Justus to drive the van to Oakland.
When they got to the Oakland federal building on Clay Street, Justus resolved that he would try to talk Carrillo out of doing anything. He said he convinced Carrillo not to shoot anyone, and believed they were just going to drive away, when Carrillo surprised him by opening the door of the moving van and firing at the booth, the transcript says.
“I told him they look like security guards, they’re not even cops. But he opened the door and he shot them,” Justus said. “And then the door shut and he pointed the gun at me, and screamed at me to drive.”
Justus said Carrillo was “energetic” after the shooting, a noticeable difference from his “scary calm” demeanor up to that point. Justus said he saw Underwood and the second officer hit the ground when the shots rang out, but tried to convince himself that no one was hit.
From there they headed toward the freeway, but an entrance was blocked by CHP officers. As he continued on, Carrillo instructed him to grab a handful of nails and toss them out the window onto the road, then suggested driving toward Concord. Scared that he would be killed next, Justus said he reasoned with Carrillo to head back toward Millbrae and go home.
Before they parted ways, Justus said he told Carrillo he was going home to drink some bourbon he’d been saving for years. After getting home, he made excuses whenever Carrillo asked to hang out again, and deleted messages from his phone because, “I just really wanted no part of any of this to begin with.” He said he waited until after Carrillo’s arrest in Ben Lomond to come forward because he wanted to “get things straightened out with my kids.”
At the end of the interview, Harvey turned up the heat on Justus, voicing skepticism that he was really as clueless as he was leading them to believe.
“It is blatantly obvious that when you land in Oakland something really bad is about to happen,” Harvey said. “And you have two opportunities when you’re out on foot for at least five to seven minutes on both occasions, and nothing happens. …What does that tell anybody, a reasonable human being looking in from the outside looking at that fact pattern, what does that say?”
“I don’t know,” Justus replied.
“Well you don’t know?” demanded Harvey. “You don’t know what most people would think when …”
“I want a lawyer,” Justus cut in.
The FBI agents then informed Justus that he was under arrest for murder, attempted murder, and “conspiracy to do the same.” His tone changed, he asked for another cigarette, complained about pain from a sore hemorrhoid and threatened to urinated on himself if they didn’t take him to a restroom.
“You had mentioned we were being respectful towards each other, communicating effectively. Why’d you start raising your voice and yelling?” he asked Harvey.
“We’re done talking, brother,” Harvey replied. They then took him to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin on a federal hold.