‘Night Stalker’ dead: Lawman recounts arrest of Richard Ramirez
For sheriff’s Capt. Andres Ramirez, Aug. 31, 1985, was “one of those dates you can never forget.
Then 25 and a young deputy assigned to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department East L.A. station, Ramirez was heading that afternoon to what he thought was a routine call -- a 415 disturbance, a possible fight.
He was just around the corner from the 3800 block of Hubbard Street, so he responded “like I would any other call,” he said.
On Hubbard Street, he found a man sitting on the sidewalk, leaning up against a fence. Several men were gathered around him. One was holding a large metal pipe.
When the deputy approached the group all began talking at once.
As Ramirez began sorting out what happened, a bigger crowd began to gather. Within a minute, he said, 40 people had arrived.
“More people were showing up with copies of the newspapers -- La Opinión had published the booking photo released by the sheriff’s department on the front page. People were starting to shout, ‘You got the guy! You got the Night Stalker!’”
“I had no clue,” Ramirez said.
The suspect was indeed the man called the Night Stalker, who terrorized California in the mid-1980s. Richard Ramirez -- no relation to the deputy -- woudl be convicted in 1989 of 13 murders, five attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults and 14 burglaries.
He was sent to death row, but died Friday morning at Marin General Hospital, state corrections officials said.
The day he was arrested, a group of East L.A. neighbors chased Ramirez down after he tried to steal two cars while evading police. The Times reported that the dramatic final encounter left the suspect pleading “Dejeme en paz! Dejeme en paz!” -- Spanish for “Leave me in peace!”
The captain recalled that Ramirez was “very exhausted, drenched in sweat and breathing heavily. Blood was coming down his face, coming from his head.”
“My first priority was to have him stand up,” Ramirez said. He searched the suspect and handcuffed him. The man offered “no resistance,” he said.
“He told me his name was Ricardo,” the captain said. “I said, ‘Ricardo what?’ He said, ‘Ricardo Ramirez.’ ”
The growing crowd continued to yell and went from an “informative to an agitative crowd,” the captain said. “I started recognizing a mob mentality.”
“At this point I said to myself, ‘This normal call has become abnormal.” The captain said he knew he had to get the suspect to the station “as soon as possible.”
After he got the suspect into his car, the crowd followed, Ramirez said.
“They wanted to see if the guy in my car was the same guy in the paper,” he said. “They surrounded the car. I was thinking ‘This is not looking good.’”
People began yelling, “It’s him! It’s him!” the deputy said.
“In Spanish, people were yelling ‘El maton!’ [‘The thug’] … Others were saying, ‘It’s the Night Stalker! It’s the killer!’ ” Ramirez said. “The tone of the voices changed to anger.”
“I was overwhelmed by the crowd,” he said.
By the end, the block was packed with police and onlookers, Ramirez said. “It was like half the city of L.A. was looking for him. It was intense.”
Ramirez said he was satisfied with his role in apprehending the serial killer.
“I did my part,” he said. “I arrested him. I went to court and testified.”
Of Ramirez’s death, he said, “I can have a sense of closure, knowing this was unfinished business for all the victims and me, for my part in it ... I think we can finally close the book on this terrible series of events.”
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