AP

Man linked to 4 killings suspected of being in US illegally

January 22, 2019 - 4:02 pm
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LAS VEGAS (AP) — A man suspected of being in the U.S. illegally shot and killed four people in Nevada over the past few weeks, including an elderly Reno couple, authorities said, and the slayings added fuel to the immigration debate.

Wilbur Martinez-Guzman, 20, from El Salvador, has been jailed in Carson City since Saturday on possession of stolen property, burglary and immigration charges. Authorities said they expect to file murder charges against him in the shooting deaths of the couple and two women in the nearby town of Gardnerville.

Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong said that federal immigration authorities told his office that Martinez-Guzman was in the country illegally. Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not have details on his entry into the U.S.

The investigation is ongoing, the sheriff said, and it was too early to comment on a possible motive.

Martinez-Guzman did not yet have an attorney who could comment on his behalf, Furlong said.

President Donald Trump seized on the killings as evidence of the need for his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall.

"Four people in Nevada viciously robbed and killed by an illegal immigrant who should not have been in our Country," Trump said Monday in a tweet. "We need a powerful Wall!"

The killings are the latest crimes Trump has cited to bring attention to the wall, which is at the center of his battle with Democrats that has shut down much of the federal government.

Trump tweeted last month about allegations that a man from Mexico who was living in the U.S. illegally fatally shot a California police officer.

In Nevada, Connie Koontz, 56, was found dead Jan. 10 in her home. Three days later, 74-year-old Sophia Renken was found dead in her home about a mile (1.6 kilometers) from where Koontz lived, authorities said.

On Jan. 16, the bodies of 81-year-old Gerald David and his 80-year-old wife, Sharon, were found in their home on the southern edge of Reno.

The two were remembered as "jovial" and easy to get along with by Tom Cates, a longtime friend who knew the Davids through Reno's rodeo and equestrian scene.

Cates said Gerald David used his time as the rodeo association president in 2006 to promote a breast cancer awareness campaign by getting the group's cowboys to show they were "tough enough to wear pink shirts."

"Jerry was probably one of the finest leaders that I've ever met," Cates said. "You walk into a room and his presence will just command attention. He was a true leader."

Sharon David, he said, was "exuberant, bubbly, loved animals to the hills" and was a former director of the rodeo, Cates said.