Man killed by police after violent mask dispute at grocery store

Michigan man fatally shot after being suspected of stabbing another man who confronted him about not wearing a face covering inside the store.

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The scene outside the store in Windsor Township, Michigan, where Sean Ruis is believed to have stabbed a elderly man who confronted him about not wearing a mask
The scene outside the store in Windsor Township, Michigan, where Sean Ruis is believed to have stabbed an elderly man who confronted him about not wearing a mask (Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal via AP)

A Michigan sheriff’s deputy on Tuesday fatally shot a man suspected of stabbing another man who had challenged him about not wearing a mask at a store, police said.

The shooting occurred in Eaton County, southwest of Lansing, about 30 minutes after the stabbing at a Quality Dairy store, state police Lt. Brian Oleksyk said.

A sheriff’s deputy spotted the man’s vehicle in a residential neighborhood and shot him when he got out of his car and tried to attack her, Oleksyk said.

“Drop the weapon! Drop the weapon!” the officer, a 22-year veteran, demanded, according to neighborhood security video released by police.

The man, Sean Ruis, was holding a screwdriver and knives, Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich said.

“It’s very unfortunate she had to use her weapon, but she had to save her life,” Reich said. “She had to use deadly force. She did it properly.”

Ruis, 43, of Grand Ledge, who worked at the Michigan Department of Transportation, died at a hospital. He was suspected of stabbing a 77-year-old man inside the store when he was confronted about not wearing a mask, Oleksyk said.

The stabbing victim was in stable condition at a hospital. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered people to wear masks in stores to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

“The goal here is to be safe. We all have to do our part so this doesn’t spread,” Reich said.

The decision about whether to wear a mask in public for some has become a political statement, and there have been other violent encounters. In May, a security guard at a Family Dollar store in Flint was fatally shot after denying entry to a customer without a mask.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, a Republican, said masks are important. But he also urged the general public not to confront people over a lack of a mask.

“There is no reason to risk your health or your life over the debate of wearing masks in public,” Shirkey said.

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