A father "fought to his death" to protect his wife and children from attackers who broke into their Las Vegas home, his family told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.
Richard Ramos, 59, formerly of Whittier, Calif., was killed during a horrific crime spree that included a carjacking, a series of home invasions and a dramatic police standoff on a front porch.
The ordeal left two people dead - Ramos and one of his attackers - and two people injured, including an unidentified woman used as a human shield. She remained in critical condition, according to local media reports. Ramos' wife was stabbed with a screwdriver in the attack and taken to a hospital, treated and released.
The violence began Tuesday morning, when Natasha Galenn Jackson, 35, and a man she called “Cody” or “Havoc” stopped on the side of Highway 93/95 in a stolen white Nissan Altima, according to a Las Vegas police report.
A Nevada Department of Transportation emergency services worker, identified as Scott Ufert, pulled over to see whether they needed help. That's when Cody David Winters, 27, pointed a gun at Ufert's head and robbed him, according to the arrest warrant for Jackson.
Winters and Jackson loaded a large flat-screen TV, a large duffel bag and other items from the stolen car into Ufert’s van and forced him to drive, according to the warrant.
After driving to a neighborhood about a mile east of McCarren International Airport, the pair got out of Ufert’s van, taking their things with them, and allowed him to drive away unharmed on his promise that he wouldn't call police, authorities said.
Winters dropped the flat-screen TV on the sidewalk, apparently by accident, then stomped on it several times before throwing it into a yard, police said.
The pair knocked on the door of the home of Richard and Julie Ramos and asked to use the phone. But Jackson told investigators they had plans to steal another car, police said.
Richard Ramos, a salesman for a purchasing company, had spent 20 years in California, most of them in Whittier. He was home with his wife and their three children, ages 7, 16 and 19, said his sister-in-law, Kim Johnston, in an interview.
Once inside the home, Winters pulled out his gun, and Richard Ramos struggled with him over the weapon, police said.
Julie Ramos tried to help her husband, but Jackson stabbed her with a screwdriver as the men fought, police said. Then, police said, Jackson helped pry Richard Ramos' hand off the gun.
Winters shot Ramos as two of the couple’s children watched part of the attack, according to the police report.
“He fought for his family so they wouldn’t kill his family, because they almost killed my sister," said Johnston, an Orange County resident who is Julie Ramos' sister. "He literally fought to his death. They shot him and they stabbed him.
"I don’t know why they did this," Johnston added. "They don’t know them; it was strangers. He was fighting to get the gun out of his hands. It’s just so sad.”
Winters and Jackson left through the back door and tried to break into another house but failed, police said. They then entered an abandoned house, police said.
After officers arrived, Winters and Jackson came outside, with Winters pretending to hold Jackson hostage, police said. She appeared to break free and shots broke out between Winters and police. Officers quickly determined that Jackson was one of the suspects and arrested her; police said they had heard her tell Winters to "shoot them."
Winters fled and broke into another home, where he shot the girlfriend of the homeowner, police said. Winters took the injured woman to the front porch and used her as a human shield, police said. When she fell down, officers shot and killed Winters, police said.
Local media reported that the unidentified woman was hospitalized in critical condition.
Julie Ramos told the Associated Press on Wednesday: “I want everyone to know that Richard Ramos is the greatest guy in the world, and I don't want anyone to think he died in vain. He saved his family like the lion that he was."
She added that she felt “total terror, trauma, violation" during the ordeal.
“I felt raped," she said. "I had to fight for my life. My husband fought for us to the bitter end. He was shot. He was stabbed. We saw it.”
Johnston told the Los Angeles Times that Richard Ramos was the family's breadwinner.
"He was a great husband, a great father of four," Johnston said. "He was a very family-oriented man."
Richard and Julie Ramos' youngest son turns 8 on Sunday. Ramos had a fourth child, who is 30 and lives on his own in Northern California, Johnston said. The family moved to Las Vegas six years ago, she said.
Police said Jackson confessed after being read her rights.
She was arrested on suspicion of murder with a deadly weapon, attempted murder with a deadly weapon, burglary with a firearm, attempted home invasion with a firearm, kidnapping with a deadly weapon, robbery with a deadly weapon and attempted robbery with a deadly weapon.
Jackson was scheduled to appear in court Thursday morning. It was not immediately clear whether she had an attorney.
Johnston said the Ramos family had set up a Facebook page for tributes and donations to help pay funeral and family costs.
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