Manchester man pleads self-defense in shooting
MANCHESTER — Jeremia “Jeremy” Ruiz, 20, told a judge Thursday that he shot a man in self-defense Sunday afternoon.
Police said a bullet struck 30-year-old Anthony Pedra in the lower torso, and the bullet is lodged in his tailbone. Surgeons at Catholic Medical Center reported they could not remove the bullet.
Ruiz, of 153 Beech St., was arraigned in Circuit Court-Manchester District Division Thursday on felony charges of first-degree assault and reckless conduct in connection with the shooting in front of 393-99 Rimmon St.
Ruiz said the shooting was related to an argument over a drug deal. “I got jumped by three dudes,” he said. “It was self-defense.”
Ruiz said the men were big — he estimated at least 190 pounds — and said, pointing to himself: “I’m skinny.”
He told Judge William Lyons: “I knew I shot somebody, (but) I felt they would have shot me.”
Police prosecutor Carrissa Pelletier said that Ruiz provided police with a full confession after he was arrested Wednesday afternoon. He was spotted walking in the area of Beech and Valley streets and arrested without incident by Manchester police Detective Patrick Houghton and members of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Fugitive Task Force.
Pelletier said Ruiz first fired a semi-automatic .40 caliber handgun at the victim’s brother, Joseph Pedra, but missed, and then fired twice at Anthony Pedra, with the first shot missing him and the second striking him in the lower back.
Given the time — police responded at 3:45 p.m. — and the high density, high traffic neighborhood, Pelletier said: “It could have ended much worse.”
Court documents show the victim was able to identify the shooter from a photo lineup, but told police he knew Ruiz, who was his drug dealer for heroin, as “Jeremy Browner.” He said he’d known Ruiz for about two months and said Ruiz’ phone number was in his cellphone as “Browner,” which police were able to confirm after Pedra gave them permission to look through his phone.
The documents show Pedra told police that he had met Ruiz for a drug deal that escalated into an argument, which is when he was shot. He said he saw Ruiz holding a handgun and heard a single shot that he believed was fired at his brother.Pedra told police Ruiz then fired at him. The first bullet missed him, but as he turned to run away, he was struck by the second bullet.Lyons set bail at $50,000 cash/surety, with conditions that include no contact with the Pedra brothers.
In court, Pelletier said the two bullets that did not strike their targets have not been found. The gun used in the shooting has not been recovered. Police did find three .40 caliber shell casings and a live .40 caliber round at the shooting scene.
The victim’s brother, Joseph, gave police a wallet he said he found at the shooting scene. Inside was a credit card belonging to Ruiz.
Court documents show the victim told police two people, a “large” Hispanic male with a beard and an unknown female, had witnessed the shooting.
During the investigation, a detective came in contact with Gregory Asselin, who matched Pedra’s description, and Asselin admitted witnessing the shooting and identified his friend, Ruiz, as the shooter.
Another detective spoke with Sara Rutherford, who reported Asselin hung out with Jeremy Ruiz. Further investigation led to the Facebook accounts of the two men, who are “friends.” As a result, a photo lineup was prepared with Ruiz’ photo and, despite a different hair style, Pedra identified Ruiz as the shooter.
Because no plea can be entered to a felony in circuit court, a probable cause hearing was set for Nov. 13 for Ruiz. Pelletier said Ruiz has no prior convictions, but requested $75,000 cash/surety bail because of the nature of the charges.
Lyons set bail at $50,000 cash/surety, with conditions that include no contact with the Pedra brothers.