Danny Oliver’s last shift ended with the veteran Sacramento sheriff’s deputy doing something he would have done countless times before in his career, walking toward a car to see what the occupants were doing on his beat.
The 47-year-old father of two never made it to the driver’s window Friday. At about 10:30 a.m., a man armed with an AR-15 rifle aimed out of the car from the parking lot of a Motel 6 at Arden Way and Ethan Way and opened fire, killing Oliver with a shot to the forehead.
Over the next six hours, authorities say, 34-year-old gunman Marcelo Marquez eluded hundreds of officers from Sacramento to Auburn in a crime spree that left Oliver and Placer County sheriff’s Detective Michael David Davis Jr. dead. A third Placer deputy, Jeff Davis, was wounded and later treated and released from a hospital. A motorist was in serious condition from a gunshot to the head.
The carnage ended around 4 p.m., when Marquez meekly surrendered to deputies who converged on a home in Auburn where he had been hiding for hours as one of the largest manhunts in Sacramento history unfolded.
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Marquez, who public records indicate is from Salt Lake City, was expected to be transferred to the Sacramento County jail late Friday along with a woman who authorities say had accompanied him on part of his rampage.
She was identified as Jannelle Monroy, 38, of Sacramento, although public records online suggest she is Marquez’s wife and that the couple are from West Valley City, Utah.
Authorities say the couple were responsible for a drama that forced thousands of schoolchildren to spend the day either in lockdown or sheltering in place, left neighborhoods evacuated and forced sheriffs from Sacramento and Placer counties to step forward with somber announcements that they both had lost deputies.
Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said the incident was a “perfect storm” of violence by a gunman who had no regard for the public or law enforcement.
“It’s incredibly dangerous,” Jones said. “If the suspect is willing to shoot an officer – unprovoked – then no one is safe.”
Placer County Sheriff Ed Bonner appeared anguished as he later described the loss of Davis, a homicide investigator and 15-year veteran of the department who would have turned 43 on Wednesday. Davis’ father, Michael David Davis Sr., was a Riverside sheriff’s deputy killed in the line of duty 26 years earlier – to the day.
“The suspect is in custody, as you know,” Bonner said quietly. “I think there’s those people who would say, ‘Well, you know what, I wish you’d killed him.’
“No, that’s not who we are, we are not him. We did our job. I’m incredibly proud of the men and women who go out there every day and put their life on the line, and today this organization, this family, has suffered a horrific loss.”
Gov. Jerry Brown issued a statement Friday night about the fatal shootings:
“The brutal murders of Sheriff’s Deputy Danny Oliver and Sheriff’s Detective Michael Davis are a tragic reminder of the sacrifices we demand of our peace officers and the incredible courage they display as they protect our communities. Anne and I extend our deepest sympathies to the families, friends and colleagues of these two brave public servants. We also are mindful of the officer and bystanders who were wounded or terrorized by today’s terrible events.”
The ordeal began at the Motel 6 near Sacramento’s bustling Arden Fair mall and a popular movie theater complex.
Oliver and his partner were approaching a car in the motel parking lot that had a man and woman inside when the gunman suddenly opened fire, Jones said.
“As the officer approached the vehicle, the person inside the vehicle fired several rounds at Officer Danny Oliver,” the sheriff said in an afternoon press conference. “At least one of those rounds struck Deputy Oliver in the forehead, which caused his death.”
Oliver didn’t have time to react, but his partner drew his weapon and opened fire as the suspects fled the parking lot.
One witness, Tomorrow Jones, said she spent the night at the motel to celebrate her anniversary and that her family and baby were still in the second-floor room when she heard the barrage of gunfire.
“If you snuck outside you could see him lying there,” she said. “I heard the shots, like nine of them. It was terrible.”
She added that responding emergency crews performed chest compressions on the fallen officer before he was placed on a gurney and taken to a hospital.
The suspects drove a short distance away, to the 700 block of Howe Avenue. There, they tried to carjack a vehicle driven by a man who apparently resisted and was shot in the head, then fell back into his vehicle.
That victim was identified as Anthony Holmes, 38, who was listed in serious condition Friday night at the UC Davis Medical Center.
The suspects fled that parking lot into a nearby neighborhood, where they carjacked yet another vehicle, this one a white Ford Mustang convertible, then raced a few blocks away to a home on Coronado Boulevard at Castec Drive, where they encountered Jose Cruz, a gardener working on a home.
“I need a favor,” the man told Cruz as he pointed a pistol at him with his right hand and held his left arm wrapped in a bloody shirt.
“What’s the favor?” Cruz asked.
“I need your keys,” the gunman said. “Hurry up, because they’re chasing me. Hurry up. I don’t want to hurt you.”
The suspect then helped Cruz unhitch a trailer full of gardening equipment from the truck, and he and the woman raced off to Fair Oaks Boulevard and, within minutes, a Carmichael neighborhood.
There, a county park ranger spotted them changing clothes and alerted authorities, who raced to Van Alstine Avenue and cordoned off a neighborhood.
But they were too late. By then, the pickup truck was racing up Interstate 80 and exited at Auburn, where the occupants pulled over to the side of the road and two Placer County deputies spotted it.
The deputies approached but immediately were met with gunfire from an AR-15 rifle, authorities said, striking both of the officers. Both were taken to the Sutter Roseville Medical Center, where Michael David Davis Jr. later died.
Steven Morris was at an Auburn city park when authorities began flooding the area after those shootings. He said he saw dozens of officers with assault rifles, guns drawn, standing on the beds of pickup trucks circling downtown Auburn.
“I’ve only seen that in Mexico,” he said. “No one knew what was going on.”
Monroy was arrested at that scene, and authorities said a pistol was found in her purse. However, they added that they believe Marquez did all the firing during Friday’s events.
As Monroy was being arrested, Marquez fled into a residential area near Placer High School, forcing that school and others to lock down their campuses, authorities said.
The gunman took refuge inside a home on Belmont Drive while a massive law enforcement response that included several helicopters converged on the area.
“It’s terrifying to find that it’s happening on your street, it’s happening on my street in my quiet little neighborhood,” resident Donna Silva said later.
Silva was at Skyridge Elementary School, where her 7-year-old twins attend school, when she learned that the campus and others in Auburn had been locked down.
“It’s a scary feeling not to be able to get to your kids,” Silva said. “I look forward to giving them a big kiss.”
The area around Belmont Drive bristled with heavily armed officers, armored vehicles and reinforcements from virtually every agency in the region.
CHP officers carrying automatic rifles stood roadside. A SWAT team staged on Gum Street and at Pacific Street, and armed Roseville police checked the car trunks of passing motorists before allowing them to drive through.
Authorities evacuated Placer High School after 3 p.m., with the first group of students slowly making their way onto school buses as Placer County sheriff’s deputies carrying automatic rifles stood guard.
“It looks like a TV show around here,” Hazel Haase, who lives next door to the home where Marquez was hiding, said by telephone during the siege.
Haase said heavily armed officers came into her yard a little after 1 p.m. with their guns drawn.
For the next three hours, officers carefully tightened the noose around the neighborhood, focusing SWAT teams on the home and contacting the homeowner, who helped draw a floor plan of the home for deputies.
At the same time, officers searched the rugged canyon areas near the home, fearful that Marquez might have been able to slip away.
While they still were searching for the suspect, Sheriff Jones was holding a 3 p.m. news conference in downtown Sacramento to reveal that Oliver had died. Although sources had confirmed in the morning that the deputy had not survived, Jones held off because Oliver’s wife was out of town and had to be reached, then fly back to Sacramento.
Jones called Oliver an “outstanding officer,” part of a tight-knit group of problem-oriented policing officers who try to improve citizens’ quality of life by taking a proactive approach to problems.
Oliver spent 12 years in the POP unit, and three years in the jail before that.
Former Sheriff John McGinness said Oliver was a “passionate, good soul” who loved being a deputy.
In Auburn, meanwhile, scanner traffic that had been describing efforts to capture the suspect suddenly went silent.
After about 45 minutes of minimal traffic, the scanner came back to life just before 4 p.m. with a simple announcement: “He’s cuffed,” a dispatcher said.
Officers had entered the home and arrested Marquez, apparently without him putting up a struggle.
He was taken away on a gurney and transported by ambulance for a checkup, then to jail.
Call The Bee’s Sam Stanton, (916) 321-1091. The Bee’s Tony Bizjak contributed to this report.