Dallas officer dies after shootout
Dallas officer dies after shootout
07:59 PM CDT on Friday, March 23, 2007
From Staff Reports
A 33-year-old Dallas police officer died Friday evening after he was shot twice during a confrontation in West Dallas with a man thought to have been involved in a southeast Dallas murder earlier this week.
The officer was rushed from the scene in the 4100 block of Bernal Drive to Parkland Memorial Hospital by another officer in a squad car. Dallas Police Sgt. Gil Cerda announced the officer's death at a news conference at the hospital.
The officer, who was not immediately identified but is thought to have been an officer for six years, appeared to have been shot in the neck and chest. There was no information on whether the officer was wearing body armor.
Officers were following a sedan that matched the description of a suspect in a slaying, and at some point, gunfire was exchanged, sources said.
Minutes after the shooting, at least two dozen Dallas squad cars converged on the scene, which was a West Dallas residential neighborhood. Police had guns drawn on a car parked cattycorner in a yard. Its windows and doors appeared to be riddled with bullet holes.
It was not immediately clear whether the suspect survived the gunbattle, or whether it was one or two suspects in the car.
Police Chief David Kunkle: Slain Officer "Died a Hero"
Dallas: With heavy hearts, police recall colleague's devotion
04:10 AM CDT on Tuesday, March 27, 2007
By HOLLY YAN and JASON TRAHAN / The Dallas Morning News
Video: Officer remembered
More than 200 Dallas police officers and other mourners gathered under a cool rain Monday night during a vigil for a lost colleague and friend.
Senior Cpl. Brian Payne said his former partner always exceeded expectations and responded to every call he could. 'Mark never did things at standard; he always did it above,' he said. Bagpipe music played and candles flickered outside the Northwest Patrol Division for Senior Cpl. Mark Timothy Nix, who was fatally shot Friday night during a gunfight with a man thought to be a murder suspect.
"To Mark's parents, family and friends, I'm truly sorry what happened," Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle said. "He died a hero and doing what he loved doing."
His colleagues said Cpl. Nix believed there was a line between good and evil.
"He believed he was supposed to help the good people and protect them from the people trying to harm them," Chief Kunkle said.
"Those of us in the department will remember Mark forever."
Cpl. Nix was shot about 6 p.m. Friday after a short pursuit with a methamphetamine dealer and known gang member with a long criminal record for, among other things, evading arrest, police say.
The suspect, Wesley Lynn Ruiz, 27, of Dallas, was injured in a gunfight with officers but is expected to recover. He is charged with capital murder and four counts of aggravated assault of a public servant. Police found an assault weapon and a stash of methamphetamine in Mr. Ruiz's car.
The incident began when officers tried to pull over Mr. Ruiz because the Chevrolet Caprice he was driving closely matched a car seen fleeing the scene of a murder in east Oak Cliff two days earlier. Police now think that Mr. Ruiz was not involved in that slaying. He bought the car Tuesday night, hours before the murder.
The yard in the 4000 block of Bernal Drive where the chase ended and Cpl. Nix was fatally wounded still bore signs of the tragedy Monday.
Spray paint laid down by investigators was visible on the spot where Cpl. Nix's patrol car and the Caprice's bumper came nose-to-nose.
At a nearby tree Monday, Rachel Romero hung an American-flag-themed balloon and a sign expressing wishes that the slain officer rest in peace. It was in her yard that the officer was mortally wounded, and she watched the events unfold from a few feet away.
She and her 5-year-old niece were pulling up to her house when the Caprice spun out of control and stopped near their car. She said she saw the shooting and the heroic rescue when officers pulled Cpl. Nix to safety and raced him to the hospital in a patrol car.
"I was hiding inside the car with my niece," Ms. Romero said. "There was one bullet that came toward the car. ... I told my niece to calm down. I was trying to talk to her.
"It was like a movie."
Several minutes later, officers ran up to the car and got her and her niece out and away from what by that time had developed into a standoff. Mr. Ruiz was dragged out of the Caprice about an hour later and taken to a hospital.
Friday marked the second time in as many weeks that Mr. Ruiz had run from police. On March 14, officers with a federal fugitive task force spotted him leaving the Oak Cliff home of a man under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration in South Texas. The man is also thought to be an associate of the Zetas, the enforcement arm of Mexico's Gulf Cartel, which is engaged in a war for control of drug routes through Nuevo Laredo.
Investigators still do not know Mr. Ruiz's ties with the man whose house he was spotted leaving.
About 6 p.m. that day, undercover agents had a marked patrol car pull over Mr. Ruiz's Lincoln LS sedan in the 2400 block of Catherine Street, in the vicinity of the house he had just visited. They wanted to see whether he was the target of their investigation. Even though he was not, he became nervous and sped away from officers when they asked him to step out of his car. That was before he identified himself, however.
Police later found the car abandoned several blocks away in an alley in the 2700 block of Gladstone Drive. The car's back seat was pulled down, and witnesses told police they saw the driver carrying something away from the car.
Later that evening, officers descended on Mr. Ruiz's home a few blocks away on West Brooklyn Avenue. Inside the home, authorities found marijuana, bullets, ammunition magazines and scales. Mr. Ruiz was not there.
Colleagues said Cpl. Nix's pursuit of Mr. Ruiz showed his selflessness and dedication.
"Someone was going to have to approach that vehicle," said Deputy Chief Charles Cato, the head of Cpl. Nix's patrol division. "Mark was going to be that man."
Senior Cpl. Brian Payne said his former partner always exceeded expectations and responded to every call he could.
"Mark never did things at standard; he always did it above," Cpl. Payne said.
Chief Cato said he will remember Cpl. Nix's eagerness to help.
"Each of us, when we hear on the radio a call for cover, we can hear Element 553 saying, 'I've got your back, I'll be there,' " Chief Cato said.
"He'll be there in spirit."