Mask dispute leads to stabbing; suspect killed by deputy

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GRAND LEDGE, Mich. (AP/WOOD) — A Michigan sheriff’s deputy on Tuesday fatally shot a man suspected of stabbing another man who had challenged him about not wearing a mask at a convenience store, police said.

The shooting occurred in Eaton County, southwest of Lansing, about 30 minutes after the stabbing at a Quality Dairy store, state police Lt. Brian Oleksyk said.

A sheriff’s deputy spotted the man’s vehicle in a residential neighborhood and and attempted to make a stop near Mulderstraat and Jerryson Drive just off of St. Joe Highway in Grand Ledge.

The Michigan State Police released a video of the incident, showing the suspect, 43-year-old Sean Ruis, immediately get out of his vehicle and begin approaching the officer. The video appeared to come from a neighbors security camera.

>>>LINK: Michigan State Police release video of the incident

In the video, the deputy yells to the suspect multiple times to drop his weapon. Authorities say the man then began to charge the officer. Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich said Ruis was holding a screwdriver and two knives at the time.

The deputy fired an unknown number of rounds in response.

“It’s very unfortunate she had to use her weapon, but she had to save her life,” Reich said. “She had to use deadly force. She did it properly.”

The Eaton County Sheriff’s Office released body camera footage, separate of the state police. Reich said it shows the suspect covering the deputies gun at one point.

“I thought it was important to see a clip of the video the body camera footage and a picture of how close the assailant came to this deputy. The deputy was in fact in fear of her life and it’s important that deputy is safe,” Reich said.

>>LINK: Eaton County Sheriff’s Office releases body camera footage

The sheriff’s deputy who shot the suspect is now on administrative leave as the Michigan State Police investigate. Authorities have not released the deputy’s name.

Several neighbors tell News 8 the suspect does live in the neighborhood where the shooting occurred. They say he was a few houses away at the time of the incident.

“I was just coming home for lunch, so I was pretty shocked about it,” neighbor Jack Owens said. “It’s very quiet, everyone keeps to themselves.”

Ruis, a resident of Grand Ledge who worked at the Michigan Department of Transportation, died at a hospital. He was suspected of stabbing a 77-year-old man inside the store when he was confronted about not wearing a mask, Oleksyk said.

The stabbing victim was in stable condition at a hospital. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered people to wear masks in stores to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

The decision about whether to wear a mask in public for some has become a political statement, and there have been other instances of violent encounters over masks. In May, a security guard at a Family Dollar store in Flint was fatally shot after denying entry to a customer without a mask.

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