An actress from the hit TV series “ER” was shot and killed by police in California after allegedly brandishing a BB gun that resembled a semi-automatic handgun during a welfare check.
Vanessa Marquez, 49, played nurse Wendy Goldman on the primetime medical drama between 1994 and 1997.
She was shot at 1:48 p.m. Thursday when officers with the South Pasadena Police Department conducted a welfare check in an apartment complex for a female resident “possibly suffering from a medical condition,” the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.
Officers were called to Marquez’s residence by her concerned landlord around noon, officials said.
The responding officers requested paramedic assistance when they noticed Marquez was having seizures, the sheriff’s department statement said.
“While speaking to her, officers became aware she was possibly suffering from mental health issues, became uncooperative, and appeared to be unable to care for herself,” the statement said.
A Los Angeles County mental health clinician was on scene with the officers and continued to speak to Marquez for more than an hour and a half in an attempt to offer her medical care.
Marquez then “armed herself with a handgun and pointed it at the officers, at which time an officer-involved shooting occurred,” officials said. She was transported to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead. No officers were injured.
The weapon recovered at the scene was a BB gun and described as a replica semi-automatic handgun, the sheriff’s statement said.
“She was lovely, through and through. So kind and sweet,” friend Paula Guthat told the Daily News in a phone interview.
Guthat, 48, said she communicated with Marquez over Facebook Messenger on a daily basis, mostly regarding their shared love of classic movies.
The Detroit-based friend confirmed what Maquez shared publicly on social media – that Marquez suffered from the autoimmune disorder Celiac disease.
“She was having seizures, and they were not under control. It’s really, really tragic,” Guthat said. “She didn’t have insurance, and I can’t help but think if she had just gotten the care she needed, her conditions wouldn’t have spiraled into a disastrous state and she would still be alive.”
The friend said she found it difficult to believe Marquez turned violent or pointed a gun at police.
“I think she was depressed and frustrated she couldn’t get the help she needed, but outside of that, I think she was as sane as I am. It’s tough when someone has a chronic illness. It wears you down. I’m sure she had moments of real frustration and despair,” Guthat said.
Beyond her medical issues, Marquez was also struggling financially, Guthat said.
“She also told me she was afraid her landlord was going to evict her and she was afraid of being out on the street,” Guthat said. “We will miss her. I’ll miss her terribly.”
Marquez was in the news last October as the #MeToo movement led many actresses to share their experiences in Hollywood.
In a Twitter post, she publicly accused George Clooney of helping “blacklist” her when she spoke up about alleged harassment on the set of “ER.”
“I had no idea Vanessa was blacklisted,” Clooney said in a statement to Deadline.
“I take her at her word. I was not a writer or a producer or a director on that show. I had nothing to do with casting. 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. The fact that I couldn’t affect her career is only surpassed by the fact that I wouldn’t,” he said.
Marquez appeared in episodes of “Seinfeld” and “Melrose Place” before landing her role on “ER.”
Following her stint on “ER,” Marquez appeared in three episodes of the sitcom “Malcolm & Eddie” with actors Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Eddie Griffin.