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Why Elias Ruiz Wore a Bulletproof Vest

, Written by Craig Smullin, Posted: Wed, January 25 2012 at 2:53 PM, Updated: Wed, January 25 2012 at 3:09 PM

A surprising discovery in the autopsy results on 18-year old Elias Ruiz, the young man who died in an officer involved shooting Sunday... he was wearing a bulletproof vest.
   Elias Ruiz volunteered at Kids Unlimited and news that he was wearing a bulletproof vest has surprised many... but it didn't shock Executive Director Tom Cole.
      ''I think I understand why he felt like he had to wear that vest at times."
     Kids Unlimited Executive Director Tom Cole says he believes Ruiz had worn a bulletproof vest for some time, including the day when there was a disturbance at his house..9-1-1 was called... he had a knife .. police shot him and he died at the scene.
      But prior to that day Cole says Ruiz was being bullied by gangs and feared for his safety.
    "That was something he probably felt comfort in, unfortunately at a time when no kid should feel like that."
     Cole says Ruiz worked hard to avoid gangs and was concentrating on finishing high school...but his safety was a constant concern.
    ''This didn't happen spontaneously and the vest seems to be a symbol that that is true.''
    As we await the results of the investigation into Ruiz's death, some are saying news of the bulletproof vest changes the perception of Ruiz and what happened Sunday... don't count Cole among that group.
   ''In my opinion it doesn't weigh in to what the tragedy is... in that a young person has lost their life.''
   And Cole believes that in order to keep a tragedy like this from happening again... we as a community need to do something differently.
    ''That's so much bigger than anything that happened that day, it really is about looking at what got us to that point.''
    The shooting death is being investigated by the Jackson County Major Assault / Death Investigation Unit and will be submitted to the Grand Jury in a couple of weeks.

About the Author

Craig Smullin

Craig Smullin co-anchors NBC5 News at 6 and hosts the 5 on 5 Feature Interview on NBC5 News at 5. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Craig graduated from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California with a degree in Recreation Administration and Sports Management.

Since joining NBC5 News in 2005, Craig has performed virtually every job in the newsroom: News and Sports Reporter, Sports Anchor, Producer, series and segment Host and Anchor of NBC5 News at Sunrise and NBC5 News at 5. When he's not reporting news, Craig spends time with his wife, young son and two dogs. He is a dedicated fan of the San Francisco 49ers and Portland Trailblazers and loves snow boarding the slopes of Mt. Ashland.

Catch Craig co-anchoring with Natalie Hurd weekdays on NBC 5 News at 6pm.

Connect with Craig

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