PLACERVILLE (CBS13) – One of the three men charged in the 2019 shooting death of El Dorado County Sheriff's Deputy Brian Ishmael has been convicted of second-degree murder.
Deputy Ishmael was a four-year veteran of the sheriff's office. He was shot and killed on Oct. 23, 2019, while he and a San Joaquin County off-duty deputy responded to a 911 call about marijuana plants being stolen from a home in the area of Sand Ridge Road in the Somerset area. Ishmael was attacked soon after he got out of his vehicle, authorities said, while the other deputy remained in the car and was shot in the leg but managed to return fire.
Deputy Brian Ishmael
Prosecutors said suspect Juan Carlos Vasquez-Orozco was the one who opened fire on the deputies. Deputy Ishmael was shot four times while the other deputy was also shot and wounded.
On Friday, the El Dorado County District Attorney announced that Vasquez-Orozco had been convicted of murder in the second degree and assault with a firearm.
"The guilty verdict does not bring Deputy Ishmael back to his heartbroken family, but it sends a message that those who bring dangerous drug activity to El Dorado County and endanger law enforcement and the public, will not go unpunished," said El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson in a statement.
It's been more than a week of jury deliberations and finally a conviction that's not just a relief for Ishmael's family but for the tight-knit law enforcement town here in the area.
"A lot of people know the first name of the postmaster and the Post Office right here in town," said former El Dorado County Sheriff's Deputy Steve Atkinson. "A lot of people are friends with the fire chief. It's that kind of town."
Atkinson was also relieved for his community after hearing that Vasquez-Orozco was found guilty.
"It's the missing piece," he said.
The other two men arrested in the case were Christopher Ross and Ramiro Morales. Ross had already been convicted on charges of voluntary manslaughter and possessions of marijuana for sale, while Morales was convicted on charges of being an accessory after the fact.
From left: Juan Carlos Vasquez-Orozco, Romiro Morales, Chris Ross. (credit: El Dorado County Sheriff's Department)
Vasquez-Orozco is now facing a sentence of life in prison. His sentencing hearing is set for May 13, the DA's office says.
Atkinson remembers hearing the dispatch audio of Deputy Ishmael entering the property he was called to by a man who claimed he was being robbed.
"It still sends chills down my spine," he said.
Atkinson added, "Law enforcement is hours and hours of boredom punctuated by a few moments of sheer terror, so when you hear that kind of thing on the radio, there's no feeling like it that I can describe to you."
Now, a tight-knit town has closure. Though, some who knew Deputy Ishmael say they'll never forget him.
"I'm glad they got him. I wish it never happened," Melanie Nelson said. "His beautiful children [are] growing up without a father, a really good father."
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