Michigan Man Killed in Confrontation With Deputy Following Mask Dispute

A man in Michigan was shot to death by police after he allegedly stabbed a male customer over a dispute about not wearing a face mask, the Eaton County Sheriff's Department said Tuesday.

Sean Ernest Ruis, 43, of Grand Ledge, walked into a Quality Dairy in Windsor Township Monday morning, not wearing a mask, despite a recent statewide mask mandate that makes face coverings mandatory in inside public settings or outdoor locations where social distancing is unfeasible. Another customer, a 77-year-old man, asked Ruis to cover his face and the store refused to serve him after he refused, Michigan State Police said in a statement.

Both men reportedly left the store and continued to argue in the parking lot. At one point during the confrontation, Ruis allegedly stabbed the older customer and then fled in a vehicle. An alert was issued by the department with a description of Ruis' car and his license plate.

Ruis was later spotted on the road and stopped by a deputy with the Eaton County Sheriff's Office.

"The suspect immediately exits his vehicle and walks towards the deputy with a knife in hand to attack the deputy," according to a statement from state police. "The deputy attempted to increase distance by backing up and subsequently shot and injured the suspect. The suspect was transported to a local hospital and died during surgery."

Video of the deadly confrontation showed Ruis approaching the deputy he tells the suspect to get back and "Drop the knife!" and "Drop the weapon!" several times. As Ruis approached, he could be seen holding what appeared to be two weapons in his hand.

"She backed away from him while repeatedly ordering him to drop the weapon, but he continued to advance and attack and she acted in defense of her life," according to a sheriff's statement.

"Our thoughts and prayers are for the full recovery of the victim who was stabbed at the Quality Dairy and for his family, and are with our deputy who was subsequently violently attacked. They are also with the family of Mr. Ruis who was killed in this senseless, tragic incident."

The department released a photo from the body cam footage that appeared to show Ruis holding a stabbing weapon in each hand. Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich said the suspect came well within reach of the officer before he was fatally shot.

"You can see in that one photograph I gave you, how close the assailant came to her," Reich told reporters. "You can't see the deputy's weapon but it was covered by the assailant's hand."

The deputy involved in the shooting was not injured in the confrontation and has been placed on administrative leave, a standard practice after an officer-involved shooting, the department said.

The 77-year-old man who was stabbed by the suspect at the Quality Dairy was taken to a local hospital and expected to recover.

This is the second such confrontation over masks in Michigan. In May, a security guard at a Flint Dollar Store was killed in a confrontation with customers.

Photo: Eaton County Sheriff's Department

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