Crime - Sacto 911

Witnesses recall chilling encounters with alleged gunman in Sacramento-area shooting spree

Anthony Holmes, 38, eats chicken soup through a straw with the help of his girlfriend, Catrice Marion, on Thursday. Holmes narrowly escaped death on Oct. 24 when he was shot four times as sheriff’s deputy shooting suspect Luis Enrique Monroy-Bracamonte allegedly attempted to steal his car. Holmes was released from UC Davis Medical Center on Monday after  10 days and talked about his experience on Thursday in Sacramento.
Anthony Holmes, 38, eats chicken soup through a straw with the help of his girlfriend, Catrice Marion, on Thursday. Holmes narrowly escaped death on Oct. 24 when he was shot four times as sheriff’s deputy shooting suspect Luis Enrique Monroy-Bracamonte allegedly attempted to steal his car. Holmes was released from UC Davis Medical Center on Monday after 10 days and talked about his experience on Thursday in Sacramento. rbyer@sacbee.com

Moments after Luis Enrique Monroy-Bracamontes allegedly shot and killed a second law enforcement officer, Jennifer Towner said she encountered him bounding down an Auburn trail, a black rifle clutched in his right hand.

The Auburn woman was hiking the trail with her son and dog on Oct. 24. When she saw the “clean-cut” man run toward her, she told The Sacramento Bee, she didn’t know what to think. He was out of breath, she said, wearing a long-sleeved checkered shirt and ill-fitting pants. He didn’t look dangerous, she said – until she spotted the gun clutched at his side.

As he drew nearer, Towner said, she held her golden retriever close and stood still.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” Towner said Monroy-Bracamontes told her, shifting the rifle’s weight in his one good hand. The other, she said, looked wounded.

Towner, who on Monday recounted her run-in with the accused gunman, said she told him that if he followed the connecting trail, it would lead him all the way to the American River. She didn’t know yet who the man was or that he was accused of shooting four men that day: three deputies and a civilian. She didn’t know where he was going, where he was coming from or why he was holding a gun. All she knew, she said, was that she hoped he would leave and not look back to where she and her son stood.

As Monroy-Bracamontes walked on, he paused only to tell her to forget she ever saw him, she said, and to ask that she tell no one.

“I had no idea what just happened until we got off the trail and saw all the police,” Towner said. “I knew something was wrong because his left hand looked hurt, and you never see someone with a rifle on the trail in Auburn.”

Two weeks after Monroy-Bracamontes led police on a chase that left two deputies dead, spanned more than 30 miles and led to one of the largest manhunts in Sacramento history, a picture of the day began to unfold through witness accounts, a victim’s story and a jailhouse interview with the suspect himself, who was using the name Marcelo Marquez when he was arrested.

Anthony Holmes is a survivor of Monroy-Bracamontes’ alleged shooting spree. The 38-year-old Sacramento man narrowly escaped death on Oct. 24 when Monroy-Bracamontes allegedly attempted to steal his car in a parking lot on Howe Avenue as the suspect fled from police.

On Thursday, as he sat on an oversized sofa, propped up by pillows in his south Sacramento apartment, Holmes spoke through wires holding his shattered jaw together. The evidence of the four bullet wounds that damaged his ear, jaw, hand and arm was still visible. He said he’s been having nightmares and waves of depression.

“Every time I sleep,” the father of five said, “I think about when he shot me.”

Monroy-Bracamontes allegedly demanded that Holmes hand over the keys to his burgundy 2001 Oldsmobile.

“I looked at him and said, ‘I don’t know you,’ so I shooed him away,” Holmes told The Bee. “He didn’t say anything. He just shot me in the ear.”

Holmes said he remembers the gunman smiling as if “he liked it” as he raised his fists and arms to shield himself from the barrage of bullets. The first entered his ear and landed in his jaw. Two bullets hit his left arm, and one shattered bones near his right thumb.

When Monroy-Bracamontes ran off, having never gotten the keys to the sedan, Holmes was left alone, calling for help. He was transported to UC Davis Medical Center minutes later and rushed into surgery later that day.

“All I kept thinking about were my kids,” said Holmes, who needs to eat through a straw because he can’t consume solids.

On Thursday, his girlfriend, Catrice Marion, 27, prepared a bowl of chicken noodle soup and a bottle of juice. He has lost at least 20 pounds since the shooting. Friends have started a fundraiser online to help Holmes get through the next few months. The Anthony Holmes Fund on GiveForward.com had received $10,355 as of Thursday, with a goal of $12,000.

As for the man who allegedly shot him, Holmes has a message: “Why me? Rot in prison. Make you suffer like me.”

Monroy-Bracamontes, who had been in custody in the Sacramento County jail since he was arrested following the six-hour manhunt two weeks ago, was moved late Wednesday to the El Dorado County jail in Placerville.

His lawyer, Sacramento public defender Jeff Barbour, visited him at the facility Thursday afternoon but declined to comment on the status of his client’s case or confinement.

Monroy-Bracamontes, who was allotted three weekly visits, declined to speak to reporters Thursday, saying he was reserving the remainder of his visits for family and his attorney. Prior to making this assertion, Monroy-Bracamontes told Fox 40 on Wednesday night that he had come to Sacramento seeking revenge.

The television station reported that he said his wife, Janelle Marquez Monroy – who also faces charges of murder, attempted murder and carjacking – was having an affair with his brother and a couple she met on Craigslist. Monroy-Bracamontes said he came to Sacramento with an arsenal to track down the Craigslist couple.

When Sacramento County sheriff’s Deputy Danny Oliver approached the couple’s car about 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 24 in the parking lot of a Motel 6 on Arden Way, Monroy-Bracamontes told the TV station, he panicked. He had a car full of guns, he said, and he didn’t want to go back to jail.

The 5-foot-7-inch, 175-pound convicted felon said he fired a .380-caliber pistol at the deputy, but missed, Fox 40 reported. He insisted that either his wife or other officers on the scene fired the shot that killed Oliver.

According to the felony complaint filed against Monroy-Bracamontes by Sacramento County, Oliver was killed with a 9 mm handgun, and Marquez Monroy is not believed to have fired shots during the crime spree.

In an interview with The Bee in late October, Marquez Monroy’s father told The Bee that his son-in-law was a violent drug abuser who had repeatedly threatened to kill his daughter and to come to Phoenix to kill him and his wife. Monroy-Bracamontes 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 the Oct. 24 rampage.

Monroy-Bracamontes told the television station that he recalled shooting Holmes as he tried to steal the man’s car and killing Placer County sheriff’s Detective Michael David Davis Jr. Fox 40 reported that Monroy-Bracamontes said he feels bad about the things he’s done. He refused to speak to any more media, who gathered outside the El Dorado County jail early Thursday.

Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully has said her office and Placer’s would follow their normal review process for determining whether to seek the death penalty.

Monroy-Bracamontes faces five special circumstances that could lead to a death-penalty prosecution, including committing multiple murders and killing officers to avoid arrest.

Call The Bee’s Marissa Lang at (916) 321-1038. Follow her on Twitter @Marissa_Jae.

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