As Sacramento deputies approached them Friday morning in a Motel 6 parking lot, Marcelo Marquez and his wife, Janelle Monroy, were arguing loudly in their car, and she planned to speak to the officers when her husband suddenly opened fire – the first in a series of shootings that left two area deputies dead.
This is the scenario described by Janelle Monroy’s father Monday in a telephone interview from Phoenix in which he described Marquez as a violent, drug-using son-in-law who had repeatedly threatened to kill his daughter and come to Phoenix to kill him and his wife.
Mauro Marquez, 55, said he believed his son-in-law’s real name was Luis Monroy. He said his daughter called him Saturday at about 1:30 a.m. from the Sacramento County jail with a harrowing tale of what occurred Friday, when the pair are accused of engaging in a 30-mile crime spree that stretched from Sacramento to Auburn.
“We didn’t know anything about what happened until my daughter was arrested there in Sacramento,” Marquez said, speaking in Spanish. “She told us, ‘Luis killed an officer.’”
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Marquez said his daughter called again on Sunday and told her parents she had not realized that a second deputy had been killed during a confrontation in Auburn on Friday afternoon before both were arrested.
Sacramento County sheriff’s Deputy Danny Oliver and Placer County sheriff’s Deputy Michael Davis Jr. were killed in separate shootouts Friday. Authorities still are working to determine what brought the couple to Sacramento and why Marcelo Marquez, a 34-year-old Mexican citizen who was in the country illegally, allegedly opened fire.
Marquez has a history of at least four arrests for drug-related crimes between 1996 and 2001 and was deported to Mexico twice, but still managed to return to the United States and live quietly in Utah until Friday’s rampage.
Investigators still are trying to unravel a series of mysteries about the true identity of Marquez, who a source said has used at least five identities and who federal officials say is actually named Luis Enrique Monroy-Bracamonte.
Sacramento County sheriff’s officials have booked him on murder charges under the name “Marquez” and say they will continue to hold him under that name pending further investigation.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in Phoenix said it had files on him under the name Luis Bracamonte and that he first was arrested there in 1996.
The Maricopa County attorney – the equivalent of a district attorney – reported he was arrested on Sept. 25, 1996, for deportable drug offenses, office spokesman Jerry Cobb said.
He was charged with transportation, possession and intent to sell marijuana. He pleaded guilty to a reduced felony, along with two other defendants, and was sentenced to four months in Maricopa County jail beginning in January 1997 and three years probation, Cobb said.
He did his time in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s tent-city jail and was then handed over to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and deported.
However, he apparently returned to the United States almost immediately. Arpaio’s office arrested him in 1998 on suspicion of possession of narcotics, misconduct with weapons and possession of marijuana, the sheriff’s office said Monday, adding that “for reasons unknown” he was released rather than being detained by ICE.
His next arrest came May 4, 2001, when he was detained on suspicion of selling narcotics and possession of marijuana for sale, the sheriff’s office said, adding that he was released to ICE three days later.
“What ICE did with him is unknown, but what is certain is that not even three months later, on July 26, 2001, he was arrested for failure to appear on drug charges,” a statement from Arpaio’s office said, adding that he posted bail and was released.
ICE issued a statement Saturday indicating that he was deported again in 2001, and it remains unclear when he returned to the United States. Federal officials say there is no record in law enforcement databases of the 1998 arrest nor details about the July 2001 case.
The couple are due to make their first court appearances today. Marquez is being held on two counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder and two counts of carjacking. His wife, who authorities say apparently did not fire any shots Friday, is being held on one count of attempted murder and two counts of carjacking.
Sacramento and Placer county prosecutors were still working Monday to finalize the formal charges that will be filed against the pair and plan to try the cases jointly in court in Sacramento.
Janelle Monroy is a U.S. citizen who was born in Canutillo, Texas, and got her high school diploma in Utah after her marriage, her father said.
He said he believed the couple was traveling from Salt Lake City to Phoenix because his 38-year-old daughter was returning home for her mother’s birthday on Saturday.
But Mauro Marquez said he had no idea why the couple would have been traveling through Sacramento. Other residents of the Motel 6 near Arden Fair mall have said Marquez and Monroy had been there for a few days at the time of Friday’s shootings.
“We think my daughter was on her way to Phoenix because she was coming to her mother’s birthday on Saturday,” Mauro Marquez said. “I don’t think she was coming on good terms with that person – Luis Monroy, her husband – because she was likely kidnapped because he hit her and threatened to kill her and that he was going to come and kill us.
“We don’t have any relatives in Sacramento, and I have never been there. I’m not familiar with that place or state. The truth is, we don’t know what to do.”
Marquez said the couple have no children and that he did not know his son-in-law before the two got married. After that, he said, the family largely lost contact with Janelle Monroy because her husband was abusive and controlling and used drugs.
“My daughter was working in a loan company, but he forced her to leave,” Marquez said. “From that moment on, my wife said, ‘Don’t you think it’s strange that our daughter doesn’t call us much anymore, and that we don’t have any communication with her...?’
“We didn’t have much communication with her because he wouldn’t let her.”
Marquez said he believed his daughter “was forced to be involved” in the incidents Friday, which also wounded a third deputy as well as a motorist who refused to give up his vehicle when a man identified as Marcelo Marquez tried to carjack it.
“This man was not in his right mind, and she was afraid that he would do something to her and come here as well,” Mauro Marquez said. “That’s why she hasn’t been in contact lately. We were unaware of all this until this incident happened. It’s something very lamentable...
“We lament the death of the officers very much. I don’t know what to say other than I feel for the families because they’re grieving because of what happened, as are we.”
Authorities say Friday’s rampage began at 10:22 a.m. when Oliver, a 47-year-old father of two and 15-year veteran of the department, and his partner approached the car the couple were sitting in. A resident of the hotel told The Bee she heard someone say, “How are you?” just before a barrage of gunfire erupted.
According to Mauro Marquez, his daughter told him that she wanted to speak to the deputies, who may have been drawn to the car by the loud arguing.
“She said that she wanted to also talk to the officer that approached,” Marquez said. “I think someone called because they were arguing in the hotel parking lot.
“Luis didn’t allow it and started to fire...”
Marquez added that the couple were arguing “because of the madness he had and drugs, and my daughter wanted to come back with us and wanted him to let her go.”
Janelle Monroy worked for Loyal Loans in North Salt Lake City until recently, and Marquez said he believed his son-in-law painted houses and apartments.
Marquez and Monroy both are being held at the jail without bail, and ICE has placed an immigration detainer on Marquez to ensure that he is not released. Sheriff’s officials said Saturday that both are cooperating with investigators.
Monroy has declined to be interviewed at the jail by reporters; Marquez initially agreed to be interviewed, but the Sheriff’s Department has refused to make him available.
Call The Bee’s Sam Stanton, (916) 321-1091.