Illegal immigrant expected to face murder charges after killing spree

(Credit: Washoe County Sheriff's Office)

An illegal immigrant remained in custody Monday after being linked to four fatal shooting this month that spread fear through two northern Nevada neighborhoods unaccustomed to such violence.

Authorities investigating the killings in Washoe and Douglas counties nabbed Wilbur Ernesto Martinez-Guzman, 19, on an immigration hold Saturday, after receiving a tip. Murder charges are expected to be filed against him.

“There was a great deal of concern and fear in the community so we just felt it was important for the public to know that we had a person in custody,” Washoe County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Bob Harmon told Fox News Monday.

Martinez-Guzman was taken into custody in Carson City, where he had been living for a year. Officials said he had no prior arrests in Carson City.

The FBI joined the investigation after investigators connected the four killings through ballistic evidence.

Gerald David, 81, a former Reno rodeo boss, and his wife Sharon David 80, were found dead last week in Reno. In Gardnerville, Connie Koontz, 56, was found dead Jan. 10 and Sophia Renken, 74, was found dead three days later. The killings all took place within a week span.

Residents who lived near the victims told the Reno Gazette-Journal they were relieved after hearing news of the arrest.

Abbi Whitaker, a neighbor of the Davids, told the paper she and her family left their home to stay in a hotel and then a relative’s house for a few nights after the Davids were killed.

“We didn’t even have a key for our front door,” she said. “That’s just how the Whitakers are. We would leave our front door open, our garage open.”

Whitaker said when she returned home she went to a shooting range to learn how to shoot a gun.

“A shotgun sat by our bed, loaded,” she said. “We slept with all of the lights on.”

“Our communities were shaken by these brutal murders,” Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks told a news conference Sunday.

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