Vasquez-Orozco found guilty of murdering Deputy Brian Ishmael

Staff Report

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — An El Dorado County Jury on Friday found Juan Carlos Vasquez-Orozco, 22, guilty of second-degree murder in shooting El Dorado County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Ishmael.

The jury also found Vasquez-Orozco guilty of assault with a firearm on EDCSO Deputies Brian Shelton and Shawn Taroli, as well as San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Deputy Joshua Tasabia.

The jury began deliberations on April 6 and took over a week to reach their conclusion.

The tragic event happened on Oct. 23, 2019, when the four deputies responded to a call of an alleged robbery at a marijuana grow in Somerset. The property owner, Christopher Ross, called 911 shortly after midnight and falsely claimed he saw several unknown individuals in his marijuana grow. Ross did not inform law enforcement that Vasquez-Orozco and Ramiro Morales were living in his grow and were armed with a firearm.

The four deputies entered the marijuana grow to look for robbers. Shortly after, Vasquez-Orozco opened fire on the deputies and a shootout ensued. After firing multiple shots, Vasquez-Orozco ran from the grown, then returned and ambushed the deputies. Vasquez-Orozco’s bullets struck Deputy Ishmael four times, killing him. He also shot and wounded Deputy Tasabia.

Deputy Brian Ishmael

Morales and Ross were also charged in connection with the case. Morales was convicted of a felony violation of accessory after the fact.

Ross was convicted of felony voluntary manslaughter and possession of marijuana for sale. The marijuana plants on Ross’ property had a street value of $250,000 to $500,000. The grow was prohibited by both California and Federal law.

“Hopefully the guilty verdicts in this case help the victims, their family, and this community feel that justice has been served and help to continue the healing process from this horrific event,” said El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson. “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.”

Deputy Ishmael was 37 years old. He was a 4-year veteran of EDCSO and served as a Police Officer for the Placerville Police Department from 2013-15. He left behind a wife, three children, his parents and sister, and a large family of law enforcement colleagues.

“What I said at the time of this callous murder remains true today, we lost one of our heroes. We owe Deputy Brian Ishmael and his family our gratitude and so much more. The least they deserve is justice and I want to thank the jury who delivered that today,” said El Dorado County Sheriff John D’Agostini.

The case was prosecuted by Chief Assistant District Attorney Joe Alexander and Deputy District Attorney Nora Hall. The lead investigator was Detective John Conley.

The DA’s office thanks the jury for their service and tireless efforts to deliberate and see this case to its conclusion.

Vasquez-Orozco faces a possible sentence of life in prison. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 13.

Juan Carlos Vazquez-Orozco is escorted into the El Dorado County Superior Court courthouse by a bailiff March 29. Vazquez-Orozco was found guilty of second degree murder on Friday.
Provided/Mountain Democrat/Thomas Frey

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