LATEST: Woman says PBSO deputy shooting her ‘never crossed my mind’

Yuly Solano was getting more and more nervous about her ex-boyfriend. She claimed that in the month since she'd broken up with him, he'd aggressively texted and emailed her, had vandalized the front of her apartment and had pressed a legal dispute over a mattress. 

But, she said, "never did the thought of him killing me cross my mind.”

At least not until the moment he shot her. 

She said Michael DeMarco "was a 55-year-old deputy for Palm Beach County. The reason it felt safe to be with him was he was a deputy. He was there to protect us. He was not there to harm us."

But on Oct. 12, city police say, DeMarco pulled his unmarked Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office car into the parking lot of the Boynton Beach development where he and Solano were neighbors, then used his service weapon to shoot her. He then fatally shot himself. 

Solano spoke to The Palm Beach Post on Thursday for the first time since the confrontation at the Inlet Harbor Club condominiums nearly 11 months ago. In a telephone interview, she said she still is in pain from the injuries to her chest and arm.

Lawyers for Solano, now 42, have sued the Inlet Harbor Club Condominium Association and its property manager, Benchmark Property Management, as well as DeMarco’s estate, saying the entities didn’t do enough to protect her. 

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The condo association has said the woman knew DeMarco, who rented a condominium within the complex, was dangerous, but she didn’t complain formally to the association, the property manager, or law enforcement. 

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In a Nov. 8 hospital-bed conversation with detectives at Delray Medical Center, Solano said she had planned to file formal complaints but “did not have a chance” to get to it before the shooting. Solano’s lawyers contend her complaints were substantive enough, and made enough times, that they constituted formal complaints. 

But, Solano and her lawyer were asked Thursday, if DeMarco was a fellow resident, he was allowed to be there. How could the association limit his movements?

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"They did nothing," Solano attorney Gary Iscoe said. He said the association had an obligation to warn DeMarco to stop harassing Solano, and perhaps even to evict him if necessary. 

He said Solano “doesn't have to defend her actions. She brought it up to the board of the place where she lived. That is the place where these actions occurred.”

The lawsuit, filed suit Nov. 16, remains before the courts. Records show the homeowners association has made settlement offers. Iscoe said he hasn’t considered any.

“There's nothing there to consider," he said. 

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Solano said the association "had a duty to make sure that I felt safe and protected, and they laughed at me." She said board members said they didn't believe a deputy would do anything untoward, although one called DeMarco "Joe Pesci with a gun," a reference to the film actor who often has played volatile gangsters. 

Juan C. Diaz Avila, an attorney for Inlet Harbor, on Thursday said he had no comment. Craig L. Gilbert, an attorney for Benchmark, did not immediately return a call either Thursday or Friday.

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Solano said Thursday she's moved out of Palm Beach County to another part of Florida, and that her daughter, Aryana Baluja, who's now 19, is at a college Solano did not identify. 

"She's done a tremendous amount of support for me," Solano said. "And vice versa. She's had a lot of PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome)."

Solano said the moments of Oct. 12 "are very vivid in my head." 

She said she had broken up with DeMarco the Friday after Hurricane Irma's landfall, which would be Sept. 15.

Almost immediately, she said, DeMarco began sending harassing texts and emails. Later, she discovered someone had scratched her name from the mailbox in the lobby of the community clubhouse. And someone had placed heavy objects in front of her apartment door that she had to push away to get out. 

She suspected DeMarco.

She said she recalled thinking, "I'm afraid of what he's going to do if I try to get a restraining order."

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After three weeks, she said, the harassment stopped cold. That was when she felt most unsettled. The only interruption, she said, was when another deputy banged on her door for what seemed like 20 minutes. He was trying to serve her for a small claims lawsuit DeMarco had filed over reimbursement for a mattress the two had bought together before the breakup. 

A week later, she said, she was walking her dog, a shih tzu named Coco, when DeMarco’s car raced up and abruptly stopped.

"As soon as he stepped out of his vehicle, I saw his hands on his revolver,” Solano said. “I was feeling that there was going to be no good ending.”

Solano said she walked off but DeMarco "started following me, and stated, 'You won't even talk to me. You treat me worse than a dog.' And he looked down at my dog." 

Solano said she stepped back and DeMarco grabbed her right arm. She yanked it away, "and that's when he pulled out his gun." 

She said the two were a foot apart. 

"He shot me immediately," Solano said. "He shot me again. And he shot me for a third and fourth time." 

After the first shot, she said, "I remember telling him, ‘You shot me.' " But she said she did so in a tiny voice. By then, she said, her punctured lungs already were struggling for air. 

She said she fell down and "I believe I looked up at the sky and said a quick prayer for my daughter. I recall hearing one last shot. I thought he had shot my dog."

Instead, DeMarco had shot himself. 

Surveillance-camera video shows him pulling out his .40-caliber Glock handgun and shooting Solano before slumping and placing the handgun to his head. He fired twice and died where he fell. 

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