New suspect, details revealed in fatal El Dorado County deputy shooting
New details have painted a clearer picture surrounding the death of El Dorado County sheriff’s deputy Brian Ishmael, including another suspect.
Jorge Lamas has been charged in a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Sacramento with conspiracy to manufacture, manufacturing at least 50 marijuana plants and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense.
Lamas becomes the fourth suspect connected to the fatal shooting of Ishmael. Christopher Ross, the 911 caller, and Juan Carlos Vasquez-Orozco, the alleged gunman, each pleaded not guilty to murder charges Oct. 25. Ramiro Bravo Morales, Vasquez-Orosco’s alleged accomplice, pleaded not guilty to being an accessory.
Lamas told investigators he was paid $150 a day by an unnamed person in Mexico to oversee marijuana cultivation operations at Ross’ Somerset home, according to federal court documents.
Hours after the Oct. 23 shooting, Lamas called 911 and reported gunfire at a marijuana ranch but didn’t provide dispatchers with an address. Lamas was arrested two days later in Yuba City, located through cell phone tracking. He reportedly admitted to being a part of the marijuana cultivation conspiracy at Ross’ home. Lamas also admitted to supervising another illegal marijuana grow in Georgetown.
Federal court documents also provide a step-by-step glimpse of the events leading up to the shooting.
A marijuana cultivation conspiracy gone sour may have set the stage for Ishmael’s eventual death, court documents show.
In early July Ross entered a business relationship with someone he knew as “Jaime,” court documents state. Under the agreement, Jaime and his associates were to cultivate marijuana on Ross’ Somerset property in exchange for $13,000. By the time of the shooting, Jaime had paid Ross $10,000 through cash and a Jeep Cherokee, with the remaining $3,000 to be paid out at the end of the harvest season.
In September Vasquez-Orozco began overseeing the cultivation and security of the marijuana grow while living in a tent on the property, court documents state. In October Ross witnessed Vasquez-Orozco in possession of a firearm.
As the harvest season wound down, Ross became worried the two wouldn’t pay the remaining $3,000 owed to him, the court affidavit notes.
On Oct. 20 Ross noticed Morales had moved onto the property to work on the grow.
Three days later Ross made the call to 911 to report an alleged robbery on his property. During the first call Ross stated, “I am a farmer … I grow marijuana,” according to court documents. In the same call Ross stated that five people were in “my grow site.” In two phone calls with dispatchers before the shooting, Ross didn’t disclose that the men had been living on his property or that one possessed a firearm.
Ross’ false 911 call left Ishmael and his ride-along partner, an off-duty San Joaquin County sheriff’s deputy, in the dark on what they were walking into.
The two officers arrived on the scene a short time after Ross’ initial 911 call. As the pair approached the garden, Vasquez-Orozco immediately began opening fire, the documents stated. Ishmael was shot and killed at the scene. His ride-along partner was also shot but later treated and released from the hospital. The officers returned fire, striking Vazquez-Orozco.
Officers arrested both Vasquez-Orozco and Morales as the suspects attempted to flee the garden.
Ross, Vasquez-Orozco and Morales are all expected to appear in court in December.
A funeral for the fallen officer will be held Tuesday at Bayside Church Adventure in Roseville.
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