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Martin County sheriff to look at mental illness cases following deadly shooting

wptv Sheriff Snyder.PNG
Posted at 3:05 PM, Mar 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 12:17:33-04

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — Authorities said a murder case in Martin County ended with the victim's son shot and killed by police in Brevard County.

When Martin County deputies were called out to the Crane Creek neighborhood of Palm City to do a welfare check on Sunday, it quickly turned into a homicide investigation.

"We did find she was deceased and she had died from an apparent gunshot wound," said Martin County Sheriff William Snyder.

61-year-old Christine Ruffin’s body was found inside her son Christopher’s home.

Deputies were sent there after learning that Christopher Ruffin and his girlfriend were up in Palm Bay, and that Ruffin had pointed a gun at the girlfriend in their car before running off.

That led to an hours long manhunt, and eventual confrontation with police.

"Officers arrived along with deputies, challenged the individual to drop his firearm and a shooting ensued thereafter," said Palm Bay Police Chief Nelson Moya.

Ruffin died at the hospital.

He was known to Martin County deputies, who had interacted with him twice in the previous month.

Sheriff Snyder said this is at least the third or fourth incident just this year involving mental illness that ended in a violent police interaction.

"There’s no way to minimize what is going on in this county, and every county in the United States," said Sheriff Snyder.

Sheriff Snyder said he’s going to take a hard look at how to handle mental illness cases going forward, including the possibility of a new unit.

"Having a core group of men and women, sworn deputies with a much higher level of education and training working with mentally ill. We may see a different kind of uniform, a different kind of car," Sheriff Snyder said.

While a case like this with an armed suspect confronting police may have ended the same way, the sheriff said something needs to be done to help those struggling.