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2 men charged in fatal shooting at Sarasota convenience store

One of the men arrested is a convicted felon, deputies say. Two others involved were already in jail.
Credit: Sarasota Sheriff's Office
Rafael Gonzales and Roberto Ruiz were arrested in connection to a shooting at a Sarasota convenience store. Nichole Vasquez was arrested on unrelated charges.

TAMPA, Fla — Two men have been charged for the Sunday shooting that claimed another man's life outside of a convenience store in Sarasota.

Rafael Gonzales, 20, is charged with second-degree murder and 37-year-old Roberto Ruiz, Jr., is charged with principal to second-degree murder, the sheriff's office reports. Ruiz has prior felony convictions including armed burglary, grand theft of a firearm and willful fleeing to elude. 

Around 4 p.m. Sunday, Sarasota Sheriff's deputies responded to reports of gunshots in front of the Day Night Convenience store on Desoto Road. Witnesses told deputies several people were arguing in the parking lot when gunshots were fired. 

Once deputies surveyed the area, they found a man lying dead on the ground with multiple gunshot wounds to his arm, chest and head. At this time, authorities are not releasing the identity of the man who was shot and killed in this incident under the protections afforded by Marsy's Law. 

Immediately, deputies initiated a search of the area for the people and cars involved who left before authorities arrived but were unsuccessful. However, detectives were able to obtain security footage from the convenience store which showed the man who was shot in a verbal confrontation with a 31-year-old woman, Nichole Vasquez, just moments prior to the shooting. 

Detectives say the man killed was seen holding a pocket knife behind his back while arguing with Vasquez. Ruiz is then seen approaching Vasquez in an effort to guard her against the man holding the pocketknife. Not long after that, Gonzales comes toward the argument holding a handgun and engages with the man holding the pocket knife. 

As the confrontation escalates, detectives report that Gonzales fired his handgun at the man holding the pocketknife striking him several times causing him to retreat to the side of the convenience store building. Gonzales followed the man, detectives say, and fired his handgun again, striking the man in his chest and head. 

Video surveillance captured a silver Grand Marquis driven by Ruiz driving away from the scene while Vasquez followed them in a black Mercedes. 

After further investigation, detectives learned that Ruiz and Gonzales are known associates of Vasquez and the three were likely at the convenience store to facilitate a narcotics transaction. 

The following Tuesday, deputies worked in partnership with the Sarasota Police Department to find Ruiz in the city of Sarasota where he had a registered address. That afternoon, in an attempt to avoid arrest, Ruiz crashed his car near the intersection of Fruitville Road and East Avenue and fled on foot from his car, authorities say. Deputies quickly captured him and took him into custody. 

Two days later, detectives issued a warrant for Gonzales who lived on Montayne street in Dover. Just after 9:30 a.m., deputies located him in Dover and took him into custody by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. At the time of his arrest, Gonzales was wearing the same shirt he wore during the shooting, the Sarasota Sheriff's Office reports.

Vasquez has been taken into custody for unrelated charges. The woman from Wauchula is in custody at the Manatee County Jail on two counts of aggravated child abuse, fleeing to elude, resisting an officer without violence, failure to remain at a crash involving great bodily harm and driving while license suspended.

The investigation is ongoing and additional charges are pending, the Sarasota Sheriff's Office reports.


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