Special Reports

Slaying suspect has 9 aliases

One man wanted for killing five people in a Pasco garage Tuesday night was a suspected drug dealer with nine aliases who beat his pregnant girlfriend, police said Thursday.

Vicente Mendez Ruiz, who police said may be an illegal alien from Mexico, has used three different birth dates that would put his present age at 19, 22 or 23, police and court records show.

Jose Mendez, who said Ruiz is his nephew, said the wanted man "is not a good boy" but added be did not believe Ruiz is responsible for the mass murder.

Mendez, 54, said through an interpreter at his Pasco home that he last saw Ruiz about six months ago. Mendez said Ruiz was involved in narcotics but it was unclear whether he allegedly sold or used drugs.

Ruiz is one of two men Pasco police are looking for in connection with the killing of five Hispanic men and the wounding of another at Medina's Body Shop at 1101 E. A St. The second gunman, described as about 5-foot-6 with dark hair and a thin build, remains unidentified.

In other developments Thursday:

The lone survivor of the massacre, Jesse Rocio, 20, Pasco, was released from Franklin County Jail after police determined he will appear to testify when a trial is held.

Pasco Police Sgt. Terry Trulson said three weapons - a rifle and two pistols - may have been used in the shootings. Rocio told police that Ruiz entered the auto shop carrying a rifle and the unidentified gunman had a revolver in each hand, Trulson said.

A sales receipt from a Pasco sporting goods store that was found in a car at Ruiz' apartment Wednesday indicated ammunition for a large-caliber rifle and medium-caliber pistol was purchased about 45 minutes before the 7 p.m. shootings, Trulson said.

Police continued to look for Ramundo Ruiz, brother of Vicente, for questioning, Trulson said. The two men had shared the Pasco apartment.

There is no indication that Ramundo, who age was not available, was the second gunman, Trulson said.

Trulson, who said police have found two vehicles Vicente Ruiz had used in Pasco, speculated the brothers have left town.

"He (Vicente) is not the kind of guy to be without wheels unless he's with someone else," Trulson said.

"He's proud of his cars. I think that they got some friend or relative and they are gone. I can't imagine them still being in the Tri-Cities."

Vicente Ruiz is a "drug-type of guy" who liked to hang out at downtown Pasco taverns, Trulson said.

"We suspect he was a dope dealer," he said. We never caught him at it, but we suspected him."

Police seized 15 to 20 pounds of marijuana and a little more than a half-pound of cocaine from the apartment rented by Ruiz and his brother, Trulson said.

"He had an easy way with paying the rent," apartment manager David Gamino said. "I'd ask for it and he'd just pull out a wad of money."

Ruiz' ex-girlfriend, who lives in Kennewick, told police he visited her the day of the shootings, Trulson said. The woman, whose name was not available, appeared to be between 18 and 22 years old and is 8 1/2 months pregnant, he said.

"She's afraid of him" Trulson added. "He has beaten her."

Clifford Medina, 22, owner of the garage where the shootings occurred, said he has known Ruiz for about two years.

Ana Torres, 33, who is Medina's girlfriend, said Ruiz lived in Pasco for six or seven years and came to the United States from Colima, Mexico. Colima is west of Mexico City between Guadalajara and Acapulco.

A theft charge against Ruiz was dismissed Feb. 18, 1986, in Pasco Municipal Court, records show. There were no records indicating he had ever been convicted of a crime in Franklin County or Pasco either as a juvenile or adult.

Police records show Ruiz used the following aliases: Vicente Ruiz Mendez, Jose Luis Mendez, Reyna Mendez, Vicente Ruiz, Vincente Ruez, Vicente M. Ruiz, Reyna Ruiz, Luis Mendez and Jose Vicente.

David Corkrum, the attorney for the only survivor of the massacre, said he was surprised Pasco officials released Rocio from jail Thursday.

"They were always worried about him taking off," Corkrum said, adding that Rocio has relatives in Chicago. Rocio had been in jail after being released Wednesday from Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Pasco where he was treated for a gunshot wound to the right side.

"All along he's been wanting out," Corkrum said. "He's not afraid. He's more worried for his family."