Murder Suspect Pepper Sprays La. Deputy, Escapes in Stolen Cruiser

Feb. 26, 2024
A search is on for a man charged with second degree murder who escaped custody by pepper spraying a Jefferson Parish sheriff's deputy and stole her cruiser, which was abandoned in Algiers.

A Louisiana inmate charged with second degree murder is on the run after pepper spraying a deputy and stealing her police cruiser on Sunday evening, Feb. 25.

The manhunt is now underway for 51-year-old Leon Ruffin, who authorities say should be “considered armed and dangerous by all means.”

Over the weekend, Ruffin was transferred from a correctional facility to Ochsner Medical Center’s Westbank campus after suffering a possible seizure. Following treatment by medical staff, Ruffin was escorted from the hospital by a deputy.

That’s when he “created some type of disturbance” in the back seat. When the deputy exited her SUV to address the situation, Ruffin managed to pepper spray her, removing the walking boot from his foot as he climbed into the front seat and sped away.

The deputy opened fire on the vehicle as it left the parking lot, although it’s not known if any of the shots hit Ruffin. According to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, the stolen vehicle was found abandoned in Algiers nearly three hours later.

“I don’t believe he has anything to lose,” said Sheriff Joseph Lopinto at a Sunday night press conference. He said it was unclear how Ruffin had obtained the pepper spray, as the deputy still had hers, as well as her weapon.

Ruffin has been in custody since last July, when he was accused of gunning down longtime friend Gannon Johnson.

According to reporting by the Times-Picayune, Johnson was helping to jumpstart Ruffin’s car when he was “met with a barrage of bullets.” Surveillance video showed Johnson removing the jumper cables from the two vehicles, when the accused killer drew a gun and shot him several times in the chest.

The motive for the killing is still unknown. According to authorities, there was no argument preceding the shooting.

The search for Ruffin is still ongoing. Anyone with any information on Leon Ruffin Jr.’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office investigations bureau at 504-364-5300.


©2024 Advance Local Media LLC.


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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