Family and Friends Mourn Death of Elias Ruiz

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Sun, February 12 2012 at 6:41 PM, Updated: Sun, February 12 2012 at 9:05 PM

More than 200 family and friends of 18-year-old Elias Ruiz came together at Kids Unlimited Saturday night to remember Ruiz's life.

His mother, Alejandra Ruiz reminisced on her son's love of music and his kindness.

"Elias had a heart that would impress everyone regardless of culture, background or race," said Ruiz's mother.

A look back at what happened

Elias Ruiz was shot and killed by Medford Police in late-January when a 9-1-1 call came from his home.

Police say he came at them with a knife and was wearing a bullet proof vest. A recent Grand Jury decision ruled the police were justified in shooting Ruiz, but friends and family disagree.

Friends remember Ruiz

"He was a very outgoing, very respectful, very curious young man," said family friend, Marian Rodriguez, who knew Elias through his mother. "We're all feeling the grief of his passing, especially the circumstances of his death. [We're] really feeling it was an unwarranted shooting by police."

Executive Director of Kids Unlimited, Tom Cole also knew Elias Ruiz. He spoke about how Ruiz made a mark on his life.

"The value of love is when someone leaves you and makes you stronger as a result of their presence in your life," said Cole.

A plea to the community

At the memorial, Ruiz's mother ended her speech by calling on the community to help those who need it most.

"When someone calls for help, be there, listen. Thank you," said Alejandra Ruiz before walking off stage.

What's next for the Ruiz family?

Marian Rodriguez, the Ruiz's family friend, told NBC 5 News that the family plans to get an independent review of all the evidence concerning the shooting death of Elias Ruiz.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

Connect with Christine

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