Former ER and Melrose Place actor Vanessa Marquez was shot and killed by police in South Pasadena, California, on Thursday after pointing what was thought to be a gun at officers, officials said.
Police were called to perform a welfare check on Marquez, 49, after receiving a call to assist a woman possibly suffering from a medical condition.
When officers arrived at around noon, they noticed Marquez was having seizures, and paramedics were called in to assist, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which is assisting with the investigation.
But Marquez, who appeared to be suffering from mental health issues, became uncooperative, officials said. And after officers spoke to her for about 90 minutes offering medical care, police said Marquez armed herself with a BB gun that was made to look like a semiautomatic handgun and pointed it at officers, prompting them to open fire. She was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
No officers were injured.
Marquez was among the chorus of actors last year who spoke out about enduring sexual harassment as the #MeToo movement gained traction — in her case, on the set of ER. She also accused fellow ER actors Eriq La Salle and Terence Nightingall of being “pussy grabbers.”
On Twitter, she also accused George Clooney of playing a role in her allegedly getting blacklisted after speaking out. Clooney at the time said that while he took Marquez at her word, he was not in any position to affect her career.
“I was an actor and only an actor. If she was told I was involved in any decision about her career then she was lied to,” he said in a statement. “The fact that I couldn’t affect her career is only surpassed by the fact that I wouldn’t.”
Her Twitter account has since been suspended.
Before her death, Marquez posted on Facebook that she was terminally ill and suffering from celiac disease, as well as seizures and pulmonary embolisms.
Her friend, Paula Guthat, told BuzzFeed News that Marquez had been having uncontrolled seizures, but could not afford to see a doctor to get help.
“She didn’t have insurance, so it was very difficult for her to get the care she needed,” Guthat said. “I think if she had gotten it I think her conditions wouldn’t have spiraled so disastrously and she would probably have still been with us.”
Guthat said she was shocked by the shooting, adding that Marquez “had a great enthusiasm for life,” but had lost a lot of weight and was very weak.
“It’s so difficult for me to believe that she would become violent,” Guthat said. “She really did have hope to recover, as dark as things were.”
She added that Marquez was estranged from her mother, and the actor herself posted that her father died in Vietnam before she was born.
Another one of Marquez’s friends, Minerva Garcia Ortega, posted on Facebook that “Hollywood killed her a long time ago” and that “she didn’t deserve what happened to her.” She added that she was not speaking to the media about the shooting.
“You didn’t really want to hear of her Hollywood blacklisting when she was alive, you don’t get exploit her story in death,” Ortega wrote.
Marquez pointed a BB-gun replica of a semiautomatic handgun at police. A previous subhead in this post said it was an actual handgun.