South Pasadena police were called to the apartment of “ER” actress Vanessa Marquez on Thursday afternoon at the request of her landlord, who was concerned about her welfare. Less than two hours later, 49-year-old Marquez was dead at the hands of the officers, who said she had brandished what turned out to be a BB gun at them.
When officers arrived at her apartment in the 1100 block of Fremont Avenue, Marquez was having a seizure, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Joe Mendoza.
Officers and a county mental health clinician spoke with Marquez for more than 90 minutes in an effort to persuade her to accept medical help. Police said she was “uncooperative,” may have been suffering from mental health issues and appeared to be unable to care for herself.
While they were talking, Marquez grabbed what officers thought was a semiautomatic handgun and pointed it at them, Mendoza said.
Two officers fired at her, striking her at least once in the torso, Mendoza said. Marquez was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
The officers retrieved a weapon after the shooting and determined it was a BB gun that resembled a pistol, Mendoza said.
Marquez was best known for her recurring role as nurse Wendy Goldman on the popular medical drama “ER,” which ran for 15 seasons until 2009. Marquez appeared on the show from 1994 to 1997. She also starred as student Ana Delgado in the 1988 film “Stand and Deliver,” which told the story of East Los Angeles math teacher Jaime Escalante.
It’s the character of Delgado that Highland Park resident Garrett Rowland best remembers Marquez for as an actress. Rowland, who spent years as a substitute English teacher in East Los Angeles, would often show the film to students.
Rowland saw the massive police presence on Fremont Avenue on Thursday afternoon, but made it a point to walk past the house on Friday morning when he realized who had died.
“I guess it shows that you never know what’s going on with your neighbors behind closed doors,” he said.
In recent years, Marquez used social media to reference her struggles with celiac disease and seizures. She wrote on Facebook in March that she was “terminally ill.”
Marquez in 2005 starred in an episode on the first season of the reality television show “Intervention,” which delved into how a compulsive shopping addiction created financial problems for the actress, according to a synopsis of the episode on Amazon.