A judge denied bond today for a man accused of fatally shooting a 15-year-old boy a day before the teen’s birthday in the Back of the Yards neighborhood last year.
Judge Israel Desierto issued the no bail ruling during a hearing today for Martin Ruiz, 24, formerly of the 4700 block of South Loomis Street, who was charged with murder in the death of Jaime Ruvalcaba near the boy’s home in the 1900 block of West 47th Street.
Ruiz was extradited from Los Angeles where authorities captured him earlier this month.
During the late afternoon hours of Aug. 21, 2012 -- the day before Jaime’s 16th birthday -- Ruiz had been standing on a sidewalk in the 4600 block of South Wolcott Avenue when he approached the boy and shot him multiple times, Asst. State’s Attorney Jacqueline Kwilos said in court.
Ruiz got into a Chrysler and fled but just prior to the shooting he was captured on surveillance footage exited the same car with a gun in his hand and rounding the corner to where the boy was shot, according to Kwilos.
The footage also showed Ruiz confronting a mother and son who were seated in a vehicle. He approached the car and pointed a gun at the young man’s head. When his mother pleaded for his life, Ruiz told the young man that this was his lucky day and he got back into the Chrysler, Kwilos said.
Witnesses who were standing in front of their homes heard the gunshot and saw Ruiz run to the Chrysler while holding a gun and they jotted down the license plate number. Another witness who was with his 5-year-old daughter heard the shot and saw the victim fall to the ground as Ruiz walked away, Kwilos said.
Police from the gang investigation unit recognized Ruiz in the video, found the registered owner of the car and found the car hours after the murder, which had Ruiz’ fingerprint on its door. Additionally, Ruiz’ cell phone records show him near that Wolcott Avenue address and then at his home shortly afterwords. Ruiz fled the state and but was located by Los Angeles police, according to Kwilos.
Several witnesses identified him once authorities got him back here.
Ruiz was arrested on April 5 during a traffic stop in Los Angeles, and information about the federal warrant for his arrest was unsealed after he appeared in court in Los Angeles, according to the FBI and court records.
Authorities went to the home of the boy’s mother, Liset Reyes, after he was arrested.
"When I opened the door I told the detectives, 'please tell me you have good news.' They said we got him, he's incarcerated in Los Angeles," said Reyes.
"There's no words to explain it, I'm just ready to face this (expletive) and ask him, 'why my son?,'" Reyes said. "He destroyed my family."
Reyes said when he was shot her son was walking home after getting a haircut to prepare for his birthday the following day. She called his killer a coward and said she believes he was singled out because he was over about 6-foot-2 inches tall.
Police told her that they believe her son was killed as a gang initiation.
"He was a big kid, (The killer) was a coward, he had a gun in his hand. If he wanted to fight so bad why didn't he go toe to toe with my son with his fists," Reyes said.
Jaime had attended James Hedges Elementary, according to an article he wrote for The Gate, a community newspaper run by the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council, as part of the paper’s youth in journalism program in 2011. Jaime’s article, titled “Basketball Could Prevent Violence,” discussed basketball games at a local gym, and how the teens participating in the games felt safe there.
“However, when the gym closes it’s a different story,” Jaime wrote. “The streets outside the gym feel like you’re opening the door to a horror movie. A young boy could walk around with thousands of eyes on him feeling like at any second he could get attacked or even murdered.”
When Jaime died, the editors of The Gate wrote about his death, and his participation in the program.
“Though he didn’t believe he could accomplish some of the tasks that were assigned, he was a natural and funny storyteller who was able to find his voice towards the end of the program,” the editors wrote.
Adriana-Maria Cardona, editor of the newspaper, said Jaime participated in the youth journalism program in the summer of 2011, and she and other staff would see him around the neighborhood after that.
When Jaime first showed up at the newspaper’s offices, wearing baggy pants, gold chains and other jewelry, Cardona wondered if he might need special attention because he looked like he might be a gang member. But he turned out to be a respectful young man who fit in at the newspaper and became very engaged in his work, she said.
“I don’t know what he was doing or who he was hanging out with,” when he was shot. But in her experience, “He had a great sense of humor. He wanted to learn a skill and he was just a silly kid.”
The shooting took place a few blocks from the newspaper's office on 47th Street, and within a block of where Jaime lived, about a year after his work with the newspaper ended.
Jaime was pronounced dead at 4:50 p.m. the same day at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital, officials said. The medical examiner's office said he was shot in the same block where he lived, but police listed him as being shot in the 4600 block of South Wolcott Avenue.
Police later determined that Ruiz, known by the nickname Garbage, killed Jaime, according to an affidavit filed March 1 by a deputy U.S. Marshal in support of a federal warrant for Ruiz’s arrest. A warrant charging Ruiz with murder was filed in Cook County Criminal Court on Jan. 13, according to the affidavit and court records.
Police and federal agents tried to locate Ruiz in the Chicago area, and an informant told investigators Ruiz may have fled to Texas or Mexico. Ruiz’s father told investigators his son had not been home in several months, according to the affidavit.
The FBI Fugitive Task Force in Los Angeles was told by investigators recently that Ruiz might be living in or near Los Angeles according to a release from the FBI.
Ruiz was arrested after a fellow gang member gave information to authorities, Reyes said.
"He was hiding out," said Reyes. "I'm so thankful to the police, the FBI , everyone who has been involved from the bottom of my heart."
Tribune reporters Carlos Sadovi and Liam Ford contributed to this report.