Shortly after noon on March 28, 2007, a Multnomah County Sheriff's Office deputy was conducting speed enforcement on I-84 (eastbound at milepost 14) when he observed a vehicle traveling at 100 miles per hour. The deputy proceeded after the vehicle catching up to it at about milepost 16. The deputy observed the vehicle continue to drive at a high rate of speed and before he was able to get into a position to conduct a stop the suspect vehicle began passing cars on the left shoulder of the freeway.
At 12:33 p.m., the deputy activated all of his emergency lights and siren, but the suspect driver, later identified as James Thomas Ruiz, would not yield and even increased his speed. The deputy notified dispatch he was in pursuit of a 1994 Saturn BTM, giving his location and direction which enabled two patrol units from Troutdale Police Department and another MCSO unit to assist in the pursuit.
As the pursuit continued the erratic and reckless driving behavior of Ruiz led the deputy to reasonably suspect that he may be DUII. Ruiz reached speeds on the straight-aways up to 110 miles per hour and taunted the pursuing units by flipping them off through the sun roof. At one point Ruiz passed a semi-truck, the driver of which observed what he thought to be a hand gun in the front passenger area of the vehicle. The semi-truck driver reported this observation to 911.
Ruiz continued east on I84 and it became apparent that the pursuit would most likely continue into Hood River County. At the request of the MCSO supervisor dispatch notified Hood River County of the approaching vehicles. HRSO deputies set up to spike strip Ruiz's vehicle at milepost 51.
The purpose of spike stripping a vehicle is to bleed the air out of the tires, essentially disabling it to the point that it is no longer drivable. As Ruiz approached the spike strip location he veered off the roadway (south side) heading straight for the HRSO deputy forcing him to dive out of the way and missing him by a small margin.
Ruiz's vehicle ultimately did travel over the spike strips and as he entered back into the roadway he apparently overcorrected his steering causing his vehicle to impact the center Jersey barrier. Ruiz's vehicle spun out of control impacting another motorist ahead of him then slid back across the roadway coming to rest in the outside lane. The force of this slide caused both rear wheels to break free from the axle. Ruiz's vehicle orientation was now facing west toward the approaching patrol units.
Arriving patrol units quickly moved in to set up for a high risk stop. Both Ruiz and a passenger (Pracilla Diana Velasquez) exited the crashed vehicle and refused to comply with officers commands. Ruiz specifically refused to show his hands which he had tucked in his waist band area. Ruiz fled on foot into the woods south of the freeway and officers were unable to pursue him since Velasquez was not complying with commands. Velasquez then attempted to elude on foot, but was quickly captured.
At about 1 p.m. K9 units from Gresham PD, Skamania County SO, and Multnomah County SO were called. K9 units were able to establish a good track west of the location, but ultimately lost it at a high cliff area at which time they suspended the search.
At approximately 7:47 p.m., Hood River County Sheriff's Deputy Matt English spotted Ruiz along the railroad tracks paralleling the freeway near milepost 47.5 and reportedly detained him at gunpoint. OSP Trooper Gavin McIlvenna arrived to assist the deputy at which point Ruiz disappeared into a nearby gully with Trooper McIlvenna following to keep him in sight.
Ruiz continued to walk away while the trooper attempted to talk him into surrendering. The trooper got close enough to Ruiz and pepper sprayed him, causing Ruiz to stop and sit down but continuing to refuse to surrender. Before Ruiz attempted to flee again, Ruiz began to fight with the trooper during which he tried to grab the trooper's gun out of its holster. The trooper was able to retain possession of his gun from being grabbed from its holster as the fight continued.
Before Deputy English and other officers were able to arrive to help, Trooper McIlvenna gained advantage and was holding Ruiz on the ground when a passing train stopped and an unidentified person got off. With this person's help, Trooper McIlvenna was able to handcuff Ruiz as other officers arrived.
Trooper McIlvenna and Ruiz were both transported to Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital where they were treated and released for minor injuries.
Ruiz was lodged in NORCOR and was positively identified early Thursday morning after fingerprints were run through AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System).
Ruiz has two outstanding warrants out of California for parole violation related to a carjacking conviction (Sacramento) - note on warrant information that RUIZ should be considered armed and dangerous and for family offense to wit: inflicting corporal injury to a spouse, assault with a deadly weapon, and prevent and intimidate a witness (Riverside County Sheriff's Office).
He was also lodged on the following local charges for arraignment in Hood River County Circuit Court: attempting assault in the first degree, assault in the third degree, resisting arrest, recklessly endangering another person, assaulting a public safety officer, felony attempt to elude in a vehicle, misdemeanor attempt to elude on foot, reckless driving, possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine), hit and run -- property damage, and driving under the influence of intoxicants.
Velasquez identified herself as Ruiz's girlfriend but gave deputies a false name. After about two hours in temporary custody Velasquez indicated that she was "sore" from the crash and wanted medical attention. A transport deputy transported Velasquez, who was now not in custody, to Mount Hood Medical in Gresham. Enroute Velasquez repeatedly asked the deputy if she had any warrants out for her arrest. Although the deputy kept telling she did not Velasquez continued to ask. While traveling south on NE 238th (and Halsey) Velasquez suddenly kicked out the window to the patrol car and attempted to jump out while the vehicle was still moving.
The transport deputy immediately stopped the vehicle and attempted to control Velasquez. While doing so Velasquez punched the deputy repeatedly, grabbed his groin area and attempted to bite him, but the deputy ultimately regained control. Velasquez was then taken back into custody on the new charges. She is lodged in the Multnomah County Detention Center.