BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – A death investigation continues in Brevard County after a Merritt Island man led deputies on a pursuit late Wednesday, crashed due to a PIT maneuver on State Road 528 and died in a deputy-involved shooting, according to Sheriff Wayne Ivey.
“Folks, I’ve made it very clear. If you point gun at one of my deputies, you just guaranteed yourself a trip to the morgue,” Ivey said in a video. “This guy and his violent actions put the lives of countless innocent citizens and law enforcement officers in danger, and at the end of the day, he picked a fight with the wrong people. He started the battle, and we freakin’ ended it.”
The sheriff’s office first said Thursday morning that detectives were conducting a death investigation involving a pursuit and crash. Information released at the time included the investigation’s connection to the closure of S.R. 528 near State Road 520, as eastbound lanes of S.R. 528 were shut down for hours overnight due to a large deputy presence in the area.
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In the video update, Ivey identified the subject as 36-year-old Richard Ruiz, who he said was located around 10 p.m. Wednesday night Sunset Bay Apartments along S.R. 520 which, due to a past domestic violence case, he was allegedly prohibited from being within 500 feet of.
“Ruiz was not only at this location where a judge had ordered him to stay away from, but he was also armed with a loaded handgun. I think it’s pretty clear to me and everyone else what Ruiz’s intentions were and thankfully a citizen made a call to our agency, and our deputies were able to respond and immediately address this issue,” Ivey said.
Sunset Bay resident Danielle Kohl said Ruiz dated her neighbor and that they had a baby.
“He would take her car, be physically abusive towards her, and she was scared for her child,” Kohl said.
Ruiz reportedly refused to comply with lawful instructions and drove away from the complex in a pickup truck, striking several cars on his way out, Ivey said.
He then drove west on S.R. 520, and deputies at one point lost sight of the pickup before spotting it get onto Interstate 95, according to Ivey.
“He was driving like a complete idiot. He was northbound on 95, went west on 528 and then southbound on 95 and then actually turned around and started going northbound on 95 in the southbound lane until he got back to 528. When he got back to 528, he headed west and several miles from that point, our team executed a PIT maneuver to take the vehicle out of play,” Ivey said. “As I said, he was driving crazy. He was putting other’s lives at risk, and so our team made a decision, a very good decision, to do a PIT maneuver and disable the vehicle.”
The pickup rolled over and came to rest on its side. As deputies got into position, Ivey directed viewers’ attention to a puff of smoke seen on video exiting the vehicle’s cab, with Ivey saying it was from a gunshot that Ruiz fired.
“We know at least one round was fired from inside the truck. Our team returned fire, immediately striking him and incapacitating him. As things would progress, our deputies lost sight of Ruiz inside the vehicle,” Ivey said.
Not looking to endanger themselves, Ivey said, deputies deployed a bomb robot and an armored vehicle known as “The Rook” to get closer to the pickup, eventually confirming Ruiz was dead.
Following protocol, the nine deputies whom Ivey said were involved in the shooting will be placed on administrative leave while the incident is investigated.
See the video update in the embedded player below.
CONTENT WARNING: Gunshots
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