SANTA CRUZ COUNTY—Officers from three different agencies (Watsonville, Capitola and Santa Cruz) teamed up to catch two armed robbers who robbed five victims throughout Santa Cruz County. Arrested were Rudy Ruiz, 20, and Ruben Hernandez, 20, both of Salinas.
The incidents started around 9 p.m. on August 6, when Santa Cruz Police Officers responded to the 300 block of Gault Street on a report of a robbery that had occurred. The victim stated that two Hispanic males had robbed him at gunpoint and fled in a dark colored vehicle.
Officers learned minutes earlier that a “be on the lookout” (BOL) was broadcasted regarding an armed robbery in Capitola that included a similar type vehicle and suspect descriptions. The Watsonville Police Department also reported an armed robbery with same vehicle and suspects description that occurred 30 minutes earlier at the 100 block of West Fifth Street.
As officers responded to the Gault Street area, the department initiated “Project ROPE”. “Project ROPE is a countywide alert where officers are positioned at freeways entrances and exits and on major roads in the area in theory putting a ‘ROPE’ around the area,” Santa Cruz Police Department spokesperson Zach Friends said.
A responding officer noticed a vehicle that matched the description near Soquel Avenue and Capitola road. Officers with the Santa Cruz Police Department conducted a felony traffic stop in a parking lot near the intersection Soquel Avenue and Morrissey Blvd and detained the two occupants.
Rudy Ruiz, the driver, was removed from the vehicle after refusing multiple commands to exit the vehicle. Officers conducted a search of the vehicle and found a loaded .45 caliber handgun.
Representatives from the Watsonville and Capitola Police Departments responded to the scene and conducted in-field lineups. The victims were able to identify both Ruiz and Hernandez as being involved in the armed robberies.
The two suspects are believed to be gang members and investigators are working with the Salinas Police Department to determine additional information on the two suspects’ gang involvement. Ruiz and Hernandez were booked into the Santa Cruz County Jail on armed robbery, possession of a loaded concealed weapon and obstruction/delaying a peace officer.
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Santa Cruz Police Investigations at 831-420-5820 or you can leave a tip on their website at www.santacruzpolice.com.
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