Photos: Paul Jones sets record straight on accident that led to attempted murder bust
Last week, we told you about the arrest of Kenneth Ruggieri on suspicion of attempted murder after allegedly shooting at a man with whom he'd been involved in a minor traffic accident -- and the Lakewood cops' belief that the victim, Paul Jones, had brought much of the trouble upon himself.
Photos, video below.
Jones was frustrated by this portrayal, in part because he says some of the facts haven't been made public yet. But in setting the record straight, he makes it clear he'll avoid such situations in the future.
On November 11, as we've reported, Jones was driving in Lakewood with his wife and son when he was bumped by a vehicle driven by Ruggieri, giving it a smallish scratch. Afterward, Jones followed the man to the latter's apartment, where he got into a scuffle with Ruggieri's passenger. In the end, he and his family were forced to flee after Ruggieri is said to have retrieved a gun and fired at least one shot.
In describing the incident, originally reported by 9News, whose images are seen throughout this post, Lakewood Police Department spokesman Steve Davis told us, "I think it was a very poor decision" to follow Ruggieri, "and it was probably even magnified more so because he had his wife and child in the car with him." He added, "It could have been much worse than it ended up. He could have been very seriously injured, if not killed -- and to have something like that happen over such a minor traffic- or road-rage type of incident was completely unnecessary. I would welcome anyone to try to convince us that it's worth that kind of risk over something so minor."
The Lakewood intersection where the accident took place.
Jones agrees with many of Davis's comments. But he stresses that when he followed Ruggieri, he did not do so because he was seeking a confrontation.
According to him, he and his wife and son had just had a Veterans Day dinner at a Red Robin restaurant (no liquor was in his system; he'd had a hamburger, fries and a milkshake) when they were bumped at the intersection.
"We both get out," he recalls, referring to Ruggieri. "We're at the back of my vehicle, and I'm trying to look at the damage that's done -- and the light's green. So I said, 'Let's pull over somewhere and assess the damage.' And he said, 'Okay.'"
Ruggieri was also mumbling profanities, Jones maintains, and he had alcohol on his breath -- and after telling his wife about these observations, she picked up her phone and dialed 911 because "I thought we should get the police involved."
While following the car at what he describes as a safe distance -- a gap large enough that he couldn't read its license plate number -- Jones says he had no idea Ruggieri was heading to his apartment, which was just a few blocks away. He thought he was simply looking for a place to pull over so they could check out the damage together. Moreover, he stresses that the dispatcher on the phone with his wife "never told me to disengage."
Jones with his car.
After a drive he estimates at 45 seconds, the situation quickly spiraled out of control. "We both got out of our vehicles at his apartment, and he became irate with me. He started using profanity toward me -- 'F-you, f-this' -- and threatened to kill me. And then he started to walk somewhere, so I walked in the direction he was. I was trying to keep him in the area, so that when the police came, they could take care of this the right away. But he got in my face, said, 'F-you' and pushed me and then started to run somewhere."
Continue for more of our interview with Paul Jones about the incident that led to Kenneth Ruggieri's arrest, including more photos and a video.