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Man linked to deaths suspected of being in US illegally

Associated Press
Wilbur Martinez-Guzman

Reno, Nev. – A man suspected of being in the U.S. illegally shot and killed four people in Nevada over the past few weeks, officials said, adding fuel to the immigration debate.

Wilbur Martinez-Guzman, 20, is from El Salvador, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Tuesday. The agency did not have additional details on his alleged illegal entry to the U.S., including when and where it occurred.

President Donald Trump seized on the killings as evidence of the need for his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall.

“Four people in Nevada viciously robbed and killed by an illegal immigrant who should not have been in our Country,” Trump said in a tweet Monday. “We need a powerful Wall!”

It is the latest crime allegedly committed by a person in the U.S. illegally that Trump has cited to bring attention to his immigration fight that has intensified as the president pushes for funding for a border wall that congressional Democrats oppose, forcing a partial government shutdown.

In December, Trump tweeted about the fatal shooting of a California police officer, allegedly by a man from Mexico who had been living in the U.S. illegally.

Martinez-Guzman, the suspect in the four Nevada killings, has been jailed in Carson City, in northern Nevada, since Saturday on possession of stolen property, burglary and immigration charges.

Authorities have said they expect to file murder charges against him in the shooting deaths of an elderly Reno couple and two women in the nearby town of Gardnerville.

Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong said that federal immigration authorities told his office that Martinez-Guzman was in the country illegally.

Authorities have said Connie Koontz, 56, was found dead Jan. 10 in her home. Three days later, 74-year-old Sophia Renken was found dead in her home about a mile from where Koontz lived.

On Jan. 16, the bodies of 81-year-old Gerald David, and his 80-year-old wife, Sharon, were found in their home on the southern edge of Reno.

Furlong said the investigation is ongoing and that it was too early to comment on a possible motive.

He said Martinez-Guzman did not yet have an attorney who could comment on his behalf.