Skip To Content
BuzzFeed News Home Reporting To You

A Man Who Refused To Wear A Mask In A Store Was Fatally Shot By Police After He Stabbed A Customer

Sean Ernest Ruis, who refused to wear a mask at a Michigan store, stabbed a 77-year-old man. Then police shot and killed Ruis.

Last updated on July 20, 2020, at 9:35 a.m. ET

Posted on July 15, 2020, at 1:22 p.m. ET

Body camera footage showing Ruis

A man who was denied service inside a Michigan store for refusing to wear a mask allegedly stabbed another customer โ€” and then was shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy whom he also tried to attack, authorities said.

Sean Ernest Ruis, who authorities described as a 43-year-old white man, walked into a Quality Dairy in Windsor Township without wearing a mask on Tuesday morning.

The store denied service to Ruis after he refused to wear a mask inside, in adherence to the governor's state order, according to Michigan State Police officials.

Officials initially said that a 77-year-old male customer, who was wearing a mask, confronted Ruis over not wearing one, and that Ruis allegedly pulled out a knife and stabbed him during an argument.

However, Quality Dairy released a statement on Friday, countering police's early reports about the incident.

The store said that a staff member had asked Ruis to wear a mask inside but he refused and then attacked the older man who was an "innocent bystander."

"Contrary to some reporting, the injured man did not confront the assailant, follow him outside or even speak to him," the store said.

The older man was seriously injured and was transported to a hospital, officials said. He survived the stabbing attack.

Ruis fled in a car. Police put out an alert describing him, and an Eaton County sheriff's deputy stopped Ruis on a residential street in Delta Township.

Graphic videos released by the sheriff's office and the state police captured the encounter that resulted in Ruis's death.

VIDEO IS SENSITIVE IN NATURE: Eaton County Sheriffโ€™s Department Deputy Involved Shooting. The Michigan State Police 1st District Investigation Response Team is investigating the deputy involved shooting that occurred on Jerryson Drive in Delta Twp, Eaton County on July 14.

After being stopped by the deputy, Ruis got out of his car and walked toward the deputy with a knife in his hand. Sheriff Tom Reich said in a statement that he believed Ruis intended to "violently" attack her.

She backed away from Ruis while repeatedly ordering him to drop his weapon, but he "continued to advance and attack," Reich said.

In a body camera video released by the sheriff's office, the deputy can be heard shouting repeatedly to "drop the weapon" as Ruis is seen advancing toward her.

The sheriff's office released an image from the deputy's body-worn camera, stating that the suspect was seen holding "multiple weapons and his hand actually is over top of the deputy's gun hand."

Reich told reporters that Ruis appeared to be holding a screwdriver in one hand and at least two knives in his other hand.

Body camera footage showing Ruis

She continued to back away and shot Ruis. "She acted in defense of her life," Reich said.

Ruis was transported to a hospital where he died.

Authorities did not identify the deputy, but said that she was a 22-and-a-half-year veteran with the sheriff's department.

She was not injured and was placed on administrative leave as part of standard procedure. The sheriff's office said it will conduct an internal review of the incident. The Michigan State Police said it is investigating both incidents.

Ruis was an employee with the Michigan Department of Transportation since 2008, a spokesperson for the agency told BuzzFeed News. He served as a transportation technician.

The incident occurred a day after the governor's executive order making mask-wearing mandatory in indoor public spaces came into effect, owing to the rising coronavirus cases in the state. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's order requires any business to deny entry or service to those who refuse to wear a mask covering "with limited exceptions."

Reich told reporters there are residents who are "disgruntled" about the governor's executive order, "but we're all trying to stay safe and abide by the rules."

He said local police departments as well as the sheriff's office "have to deal with complaints" about people not wearing masks.

As of Tuesday, there were more than 70,000 total confirmed coronavirus cases in Michigan with over 6,000 deaths.

UPDATE

This story has been updated with details from a Quality Dairy statement, which noted that contrary to early police reports, the customer who was stabbed never confronted or even spoke to Ruis.


ADVERTISEMENT