Bakersfield, CA – The mother of a gunman who was fatally shot in a gun battle with police prayed for the officers involved in the incident and said she wants them to know she is thankful for their service to the community.
Bakersfield Police Department (BPD) Volunteer Chaplain Angelo Frazier said he has been in daily communication with Raquel Urias since the death of her son, 25-year-old Joe Ruiz, approximately two weeks ago, KBAK reported.
“Rarely have I ever had a mom say to me or a person say to me, ‘Can I pray for the officers?’” Frazier said. “That just doesn’t happen.”
But Urias said she felt it was important to recognize that law enforcement officers are human beings who work hard to protect and serve others.
“I wanted to thank them for of course their services in the community with so much other things going on, not because of what they did to my son, but just as human beings, just them being there,” she told KBAK.
The encounter between Ruiz and the BPD occurred on June 13, when officers tried to pull him over for a “vehicle code violation” in the 300-block of Clifton, KGET reported.
The suspect refused to pull over and led officers on a chase down Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.
He ultimately crashed into a car at East Brundage, then jumped out of the vehicle and started shooting at police, security footage from the scene showed.
Officers exchanged gunfire with the suspect twice – once near the scene of the crash and again beneath the Highway 58 overpass, the BPD said.
Ruiz took off running towards the Fiesta Food Market parking lot located at the intersection of Padre Street and Cottonwood, where he allegedly tried to carjack a motorist at gunpoint, KGET reported.
The suspect was shot by police at that point, but he still refused to drop the gun, according to the BPD.
He then sat down on the pavement while officers tried to talk him down, KGET reported.
Police said they believe Ruiz may have been trying to commit suicide, leading to the second and final exchange of gunfire.
He was hit at least six times and died at Kern Medical three days later, KBAK reported.
The six officers who fired their weapons during the incident have been placed on administrative leave while the officer-involved shooting investigation continues, according to KGET.
Urias told KBAK that she doesn’t think she will be able to watch bodycam footage of her son’s final moments, but said she would like someone with a neutral perspective to watch the video and explain what they saw to her.
“I just don’t want people to say BPD killed him and then there be so much anger or he just did whatever and tried to kill them, I don’t want all that, I just want us to know the truth,” she said.
Frazier said he believes Urias is trying to break “the chains of revenge and hate,” which he noted “takes a healthy dose of God’s mercy and grace,” KBAK reported.