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Update: Local performer dies while in police custody

By: Jesse Martinez, Bill Melugin, and Krista Garvin
EL PASO Texas -- Police said Fernando Gomez died in police custody Sunday after resisting arrest.

Police responded to a domestic disturbance call at 1301 N. Mesa St. around 4 a.m., and when police arrived, they saw Gomez, 36, yelling and screaming outside.

According to police, witnesses said Gomez was acting "irrational and violent, as if he was under the influence of some type of narcotic."

Police attempted to communicate with Gomez to investigate the scene, but Gomez became aggressive toward the officer, police said.

Gomez allegedly tried to run while being detained by the officer. The officer was able to hold Gomez until more officers arrived, police said.

Gomez was then handcuffed and taken to the police station. While en route to the police station, officers realized that Gomez was not responding.

A police spokesperson said officers began first-aid efforts on Gomez until medical crews arrived. Gomez was taken to Las Palmas Hospital and was pronounced dead.

Gomez is also known as a local performer by the stage name Mercedes Demarco. According to those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in El Paso, Demarco last performed Saturday evening at Club Prism. Photos of Demarco's performance and condolences are circulating on his Facebook page.

KFOX14 spoke with an employee of Club Prism, who asked to remain anonymous, who knew Demarco well, and served her drinks just hours before her death.

"That was actually my last conversation with her,  she came up to me and said hello and asked me for a soda, I told her you can't be drinking soda at a bar, that's what I tell everyone, and that's what I told her, that's all she wanted, and that was the last thing we talked about," the employee said. "The next day is when I found out what happened."

The employee told KFOX14 Demarco was a huge part of the gay community, and was known especially for the performances she gave.

"I want people to know that she was very kind, she was always smiling, she was very well known for her smile, she always had that bright red lipstick on," he said. "I think we need to stop  referring to her as a he, she was a transgender woman, a big part of our El Paso community, a lot of people knew her as a she, and I think that's what everyone needs to understand,  Mercedes Demarco will always be here."

Police are investigating the cause of the death and are awaiting autopsy results.

 

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