LATEST: Daughter of woman shot by deputy talks about mother’s recovery

Yuly Solano has a morning routine: She starts by making toast and coffee for her and her daughter, Aryana Baluja. Then, she walks their shih tzu, Coco, around their Inlet Harbor Club neighborhood for about five minutes. Finally, she finishes getting ready and takes Baluja to school before she heads into work, because they have one car.

When Solano did not return after a few minutes on Oct. 12, Baluja was concerned. She called her mother’s cellphone. No answer. Then, she said, she heard at least six gunshots.

“I don’t think you would think anybody would do anything like that,” she said of the shooting that nearly killed her mother.

Baluja spoke with The Palm Beach Post on Monday evening as her mother recovered from four gunshot wounds inflicted by her ex-boyfriend, Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy Michael DeMarco before he shot and killed himself. Baluja, 18, spoke along with her mother’s lawyer, Gary Iscoe of the law firm of Steinger, Iscoe & Greene.

Solano, an investment banking advisor for “many years” with Wells Fargo, remains in recovery, going through physical therapy in the hopes of regaining strength. Although it is hard for her to speak, because of how long she had an intubation tube in her windpipe to help her breathe after the attack, her daughter says she remains strong even when she sees the scars across her body from where the bullets went in and doctor’s operated.

“She’s staying positive,” Baluja said. “Her advice to me is to always be careful of my surroundings.”

On Oct. 12, Solano was shot and nearly killed by DeMarco, who approached her in an unmarked police vehicle and in his full sheriff’s office uniform. In video released by Boynton Beach police last week, surveillance-camera footage from the condominium community off Federal Highway shows Solano walking backward from off-screen, with a hand in front of her face. DeMarco’s gun comes into the frame before he does.

The gun used to shoot one bullet into Solano’s arm and several into her chest was DeMarco’s department-issued service weapon. Then, DeMarco turned the weapon on himself, shooting himself in the chest and the head. He died at the scene.

Baluja said after she heard the shots, she heard the sirens. She rushed down to the scene and saw her mother down on the ground, DeMarco dead and her puppy walking about with blood on its leash.

As Baluja was taken in by police to be interviewed, her mother was taken to Delray Beach Medical Center. Police reports from the scene said as Solano cried out in pain and told paramedics she couldn’t breathe, she still asked for first responders to head to her apartment to check on her “baby.”

“She has told me after the first shot she doesn’t remember anything except thinking about me and my safety,” Baluja said Monday.

As she recovered, her “baby” was praying and hoping the woman she fondly remarks is “more like a sister” would pull through.

In the days after the shooting, a story emerged: DeMarco was a possessive ex-boyfriend who had harassed her for weeks, vandalized her mailbox and filed a small-claims lawsuit in which he wanted bedroom furniture back.

DeMarco had told her he wanted the furniture returned because he did not want her “to have another man sleep on the mattress that he had purchased for them.”

According to police documents, Solano told police from her bed on Nov. 8 that before DeMarco shot her he told her, “You treat me worse than a dog.”

Baluja said that DeMarco was always jealous and possessive while her mother was independent. She said it got worse as time went on in the five-month relationship. She said she and her mother loved going out to the movies and getting Thai or sushi together. But with DeMarco’s possessiveness, it was different.

“She couldn’t order. He would order for her from her drink to her last meal,” she said.

Iscoe has sued both Inlet Harbor Club and its property manager on behalf of Solano. He said the lawsuit says the association and the property manager were made aware of the “terror” and “bizarre” nature of what DeMarco was doing because Solano told them, but they did nothing to address the situation.

Baluja says her mother is strong and that she knows she will pull through. Between being at her mother’s bedside and going to school at Palm Beach State College, where she studies physical science, she created a GoFundMe account online to help offset medical bill costs. 

“She wakes up in the morning crying a lot because of the pain,” Baluja said. “But she’s a fighter. I think that’s one of the reasons she’s alive.”

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