General Crime

Angel Francisco Ruiz shot by three Salinas police officers suspected of armed robbery

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A man fatally shot by three Salinas police officers late Thursday is suspected of causing a March 16 crash that injured a California Highway Patrol officer and robbing two fast food restaurants, police said today. Angel Francisco Ruiz, 42, of Salinas, was shot multiple times outside the Wingstop eatery at 1488 Constitution Blvd. around 9:50 p.m. Thursday after lifting a replica firearm, Salinas police Cmdr.

Vincent Maiorana said. Ruiz had just exited the restaurant, ignored police commands to put his hands up, evaded a police dog and removed from his waistband a BB gun that looked like a real handgun, he said. Maiorana said the man, who had been undergoing mental problems and alcoholism, picked up the fake gun in front of three officers who were aiming their guns at him.

“It has all the signs of him wanting to commit suicide,” he said. For the officers, “there was no way” to determine that Ruiz’s gun was not a real firearm, Maiorana said. “It was one of those unfortunate things where a police officer has to be involved in taking someone’s life,” he said. “Ruiz forced the officers to do this,” he added.

Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin held a news conference this morning at the Salinas Police Department to discuss the officer-involved shooting and information about Ruiz’s possible involvement in other crimes, according to Maiorana. On the night of the shooting, police received a call from the Wingstop about a suspicious man with a gun in his waistband inside the business who then tried to rob people in the parking lot, Maiorana said.

Police said the man entered the restaurant and sat at a table before several police officers arrived and took positions in front of the business. Three patrol officers and a K-9 officer were outside the Wing Stop when Ruiz came out toward them through the restaurant’s double doors. Police said one of the officers commanded Ruiz to put up his hands, but Ruiz displayed the gun in his waistband. When the K-9 officer unleashed his police dog, the suspect side-stepped the animal and brought up his gun, prompting the three patrol officers to open fire, Maiorana said.

No one inside the crowded restaurant was injured. Police said today that Ruiz is suspected of committing three other recent crimes, including an armed robbery just a few hours before he was shot. Based on witness accounts and surveillance images, police believe Ruiz was the armed man who robbed a Jack in the Box eatery at 975 N. Main St. in Salinas at about 6:40 p.m. Thursday, Maiorana said. The video captured Ruiz, who had a plastic bag over his head, leaping over the front counter, demanding employees remove cash from the registers and placing a gun into the mouth of one of the workers, according to Maiorana.

He then stuffed the cash into a duffle bag, jumped back over the counter, pointed the gun and robbed a patron before exiting the restaurant and escaping astride a bicycle heading south down Main Street, police said. Ruiz is also suspected of being the masked man who robbed a Burger King restaurant, at 1589 S. Sanborn Road at gunpoint at 10:15 a.m. on March 16 and riding away on a bicycle, Maiorana said.

Later that same day, a CHP motorcycle officer observed a 2011 Chevrolet SUV driving erratically on U.S. Highway 101 near state Highway 156, according to Maiorana. When the officer drove behind the vehicle, the driver of the SUV slammed on the brakes, causing the officer’s motorcycle to collide with the rear of the vehicle, injuring the officer.

The CHP suspects that Ruiz was the driver of the SUV which has yet to be found, according to Maiorana. The same type of vehicle is registered to Ruiz’s daughter who is serving in the military overseas in Germany, he said. Police didn’t know about evidence tying Ruiz to the CHP officer crash and the two masked robberies until after the fatal officer-involved shooting, Maiorana said. The man’s family told police that Ruiz was struggling with alcoholism and mental health issues that had built up in recent weeks, he said.

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Copyright © 2014 by Bay City News, Inc. — Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

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