A 43-year-old man was shot by police after he allegedly stabbed a man in a convenience store who complained about the suspect not wearing a face mask. - (Eaton County Sheriff's Office)

Suspect killed by Michigan deputy after stabbing man during argument over face mask: Police

July 15, 2020 - 4:56 am
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By J. GABRIEL WARE, ABC News

(EATON COUNTY, Mich.) -- A Michigan man was killed in an officer-involved shooting Tuesday morning after he allegedly stabbed a person during a dispute over wearing a face mask inside a convenience store, according to authorities.

Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich said 43-year-old Sean Ruis wasn't wearing a mask inside the Quality Dairy store when he got into a confrontation with a customer who was wearing one.

Ruis allegedly stabbed the 77-year-old victim and fled the scene in a vehicle at 6:47 a.m. An Eaton County deputy pulled Ruis over in Delta Township, near Lansing, about a half an hour later.

That's when Ruis jumped out of the car and aggressively approached the deputy while wielding two knives and a screwdriver, police said. He was fatally shot by the officer as she backed away from the suspect.

The incident was captured on the deputy's body cam. In the video, the officer, who has not been named, is repeatedly heard asking the man to drop the knives before opening fire.

The deputy involved was not injured and she has been placed on administrative leave while the police department conducts a review, Reich said in a statement. The Michigan State Police is also conducting an independent investigation into the deadly use of force and is leading the investigation into the stabbing incident.

"She saved her life. That's the most important thing right here," Reich said of the officer. "She had to use deadly force, and she did it properly and I'm glad she wasn't harmed in any way."

Reich said he did not know the current condition of the 77-year-old victim in the convenience store, but said he suffered a serious injury.

The sheriff said this is the first violent encounter regarding face masks in the county as he encouraged residents to wear them.

"The goal here is to be safe," Reich said at the media briefing. "That's all the governor is doing on this executive order -- to stop the spread of this COVID-19."

"Wear your mask. I wear my masks. My deputies wear masks. We all have to be safe," he added.

While the shooting was the first in the county, it's not the only recent fatal encounter in Michigan over wearing a mask. In May, Calvin Munerlyn, a 43-year-old father of eight, got into an argument with someone who refused to wear a mask at a Flint, Michigan, Family Dollar store. He was shot and killed over the disagreement.

Fatal arguments over masks have occurred elsewhere, as well. On July 5, a security guard allegedly shot and killed a man who refused to wear a mask at a Southern California grocery store.

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