Two teenagers were arrested Friday night and a third turned himself in at the county jail Monday evening in connection with an attempted murder and car-jacking on Cow Pen Road the evening of January 2.
The suspects are brothers Jonathan Kishaun Ruise, 18, of Glen St. Mary and Jailen Lee Ruise, 16, of Macclenny, and Anthony Lorenzo Hogg, 18, of Jacksonville.
They were at the residence of Kwanesha Shuler, 20, in the Cross Creek Apartments near Lane Avenue early in the evening of January 2 and allegedly plotted to lure Ms. Shuler’s close friend, Lester Lowe Jr., 22, of Jacksonville to a remote location in Baker County to steal his bronze Chevy Impala.
They summoned Mr. Lowe to the apartment, telling him they would give him gas money to take them to Baker County to meet with family here.
But after leading Mr. Lowe to Cow Pen Road west of Glen St. Mary about 10 p.m., the group allegedly beat him up and one of the suspects stabbed him in the back of the neck and head eight times, explained Sheriff Joey Dobson at a press conference the morning of January 6 after all the suspects had been arrested.
The victim was left at the scene unconscious.
“He’s very fortunate. His injuries have to be hurting him this morning, even four days later, but he was able to [seek help] and talk to us,” said the sheriff.
He said it’s unclear who stabbed the victim, but first degree attempted murder charges are being sought against all three suspects. The state attorney’s office may amend the charges going forward, however.
Blood samples were taken from the scene of the attack by investigators.
In interviews with police, Mr. Hogg stated it was Jonathan Ruise who committed the violent stabbing, and he and his brother planned to kill the suspect. Mr. Hogg told police he did not agree with the plan, but accompanied the brothers to Baker County anyway.
For his part, Jonathan Ruise denied stabbing Mr. Lowe but admitted to punching him 40 to 60 times. He told police none of the suspects had a knife or any other weapon. Mr. Hogg, however, said the knife was thrown by Jonathan Ruise into a field after the attack.
Investigators did not recover the knife or any other weapons in the case as of early this week.
Police first learned of the incident after Mr. Lowe regained consciousness and made his way to a home a short distance away on Cedar Ridge Road where occupants of the residence called the sheriff’s office.
Mr. Lowe recalled being attacked by the Ruise brothers initially before being pulled from the driver’s seat by Mr. Hogg, who he said continued beating him. The victim remembered feeling a heavy weight on his back as if the suspects had piled onto him before he passed out.
Once police had a description of Mr. Lowe’s stolen vehicle, it was spotted by Corporeal Chris Walker heading east on U.S. 90. The K-9 deputy followed the Impala to West Minnesota Avenue in Macclenny where Cpl. Walker said the occupants, later identified as the Ruise brothers and Mr. Hogg, fled from the car on foot.
According to Cpl. Walker’s account, the front passenger of the car exited the vehicle with what appeared to be a small handgun and took a firing stance facing his patrol car, causing the officer to take cover behind the vehicle and release his K-9 Blitz.
The dog began chasing the driver of the vehicle, later identified as Jonathan Ruise, as the officer pursued the suspect as well.
After a struggle and further pursuit, Blitz eventually took Jonathan Ruise to the ground about 300 feet from the abandoned Impala where Deputy Marc Heath took custody of the suspect. Cpl. Walker fell and injured his left knee during the chase before backup arrived.
Sheriff Dobson said while the K-9 took a beating from the suspect, he is alright. “The subject did beat the dog pretty good but in turn the dog did its job,” he said.
Meanwhile, at Fraser Hospital where the victim was en route for medical treatment and would be released later that night, off-duty sheriff’s Investigator Tracie Benton observed a silver sedan driving suspiciously slow near the emergency room, making several passes, according to Inv. Benton’s report.
By this point, about a dozen officers were involved in the investigation and they soon located a silver vehicle with three occupants — Mr. Hogg, his grandmother and another male.
Mr. Hogg reportedly called his grandmother in Jacksonville from the Exxon station on West Macclenny Avenue for a ride and the suspect was seen there by Investigator Matt Yarborough getting into a silver car. All three were taken to the sheriff’s office for questioning, but only Mr. Hogg was arrested.
The youngest suspect, Jailen Ruise, turned himself in at the sheriff’s office the evening of January 5 after police contacted his family. He and his brother are the grandsons of Pastor Joe Ruise, who Sheriff Dobson had high praise for after the press conference.
“It hurts … He really raised those kids right. To see those kids in it, when I heard there names, I said I couldn’t believe Joe Ruise’s grandsons would be involved with something like it,” he said.
He couldn’t explain, given their upbringing, why the teens would turn to crime. The sheriff speculated the youths may have become involved with “wanna be” gang members in West Jacksonville.
“Apparently they had left the grandfather’s home and were not living with him anymore and that might be the reason … We know who they were raised by but what happened to them along the way, we don’t know,” Sheriff Dobson told reporters. “We would say they got to Jacksonville. We can’t say that very loud.”
Statements from Ms. Shuler, the woman whose residence the suspects left from, point to jealousy as a possible motive for the attack.
She told Inv. Yarborough that she and the victim were coworkers and often commuted together. She said they had grown close, with their friendship starting to turn romantic, the officer’s report shows.
Ms. Shuler said about the same time Jonathan Ruise, who along with his brother and Mr. Hogg were staying at her apartment because they had no where else to live, expressed a romantic interest in her, though she was not interested and told him so.
She also said at one point she took a knife from Jonathan Ruise voluntarily after expressing her disapproval of its presence in the apartment.
The day of the alleged attack, she noted the suspects packed up their belongings as if they were not returning.
“He [Mr. Lowe] had a vehicle, unfortunately, and a girlfriend. Apparently that’s what got him hurt that night,” said Sheriff Dobson.
Mr. Hogg is being held on a $500,000 bond. Jonathan Ruise’s bond was set at $750,000. Jailen Ruise was being held Tuesday in a juvenile detention center in Gainesville. He was set to go before a judge the same day.
“More than likely, and the state attorney will make this decision, he will be bound for circuit court to be tried as an adult,” the sheriff said of the younger brother. “It’s sad in the fact that these young men are relatively free from [involvement in] the criminal justice system … And the first mistake they made was one of the worst they could have made.”
All three suspects face charges of armed car-jacking, aggravated battery, grand theft auto, resisting arrest with violence and battery on a police animal, in addition to the first degree attempted murder charges, states a press release on the case.
Following his arrest, Jonathan Ruise was also served with a domestic violence warrant from Duval County.