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Gunshots ring out as Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office deputies try to honor fallen comrade

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The state of crime in America is so bad that law enforcement cannot hold a vigil for a fallen officer without being interrupted by gunfire.

At least, that was the case in Arizona, where gunshots rang out as the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office paused to honor one of its own at a MCSO substation in Avondale, resulting in confusion and chaos. The incident was captured on camera by a news crew.

Maricopa County Sheriff’s Deputy Juan Ruiz was taken off life support on Monday after being beaten unconscious while transferring a suspect to a holding cell on Saturday. His fellow deputies were holding a candlelight vigil Monday evening when their efforts were interrupted by a series of gunshots — police said the shooting was not directed at those attending the vigil, 12News KPNX reported.

“Was that a gunshot?” someone is heard asking off-camera, as another person asked, “Where is that coming from?”

The NBC affiliate was at the substation interviewing an officer at the time. A deputy is seen retrieving a long gun from his vehicle as others start running toward the gunfire. He quickly follows suit.


(Video: KPNX)

“The gunshots were fired north of the substation near the parking lot of a Sam’s Club retail store,” KPNX reported. “Several people have been detained, but it’s unclear if any of them is the alleged shooter.”

Ruiz was a three-year department veteran, and was attacked by Clinton Robert Hurley, 30, at the same substation where the vigil was being held, AZ Central reported.

Deputies had responded to a suspicious person call Saturday and while they were unable to locate the person at that time, they determined it was Hurley and that he had a warrant out for his arrest for violating parole, according to the newspaper.

Sheriff Paul Penzone said Hurley was eventually detained and Ruiz was transporting him to the substation. Upon arrival, the deputy removed Hurley’s handcuffs to place him in a holding cell and that was when the suspect attacked. Ruiz tried multiple times to radio for assistance but was unsuccessful. The sheriff said that after beating Ruiz unconscious, Hurley took the keys to the deputy’s vehicle and crashed through the gate to escape.

When deputies at the district substation were unable to contact Ruiz, they went looking for him and found him unconscious. It’s not clear how much time had passed before Ruiz was discovered.

Hurley was detained a second time after being shot several times by the homeowner he had the earlier conflict with, AZ Central reported. Responding deputies realized who Hurley was as they rendered aid to him. He was wanted for violating the terms of his parole after being released from prison in December, where he was serving 10 years after pleading guilty to attempt to commit child molestation.

“It is with a heavy heart that I share with you the passing of Deputy Juan “Johnny” Ruiz #S2212. He succumbed to the injuries sustained on Saturday at the hands of a violent predator. Deputy Ruiz proudly served this community with courage and conviction,” Sheriff Penzone said in a statement shared online. “His loss is a tragedy for our profession and our community. We stand strong with great appreciation for his service & pray for his family during this unimaginable sacrifice & loss. I am committed to pursuing justice for Deputy Ruiz to the fullest extent of the law against the suspect. Nothing less is acceptable.”

Tom Tillison

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