Florida Keys

‘Carlito’ has been found. Arrest made in Key West stabbing at Mallory Square

Pavel Martinez Ruiz
Pavel Martinez Ruiz Monroe County Sheriff's Office

Three months after they identified a suspect in a double stabbing that happened in Mallory Square, Key West police say they got their man.

Pavel Martinez Ruiz, 43, listed as homeless, was arrested Sunday on two charges of felony aggravated battery and another felony battery count.

Martinez Ruiz is accused of attacking two men with a knife on Sept. 22, 2018, while in the homeless “panhandling zone” at Key West’s Mallory Square, famous for its daily sunset celebrations.

The city, in an effort to ward off civil rights lawsuits over the treatment of the homeless, designates panhandling zones where beggars may legally ask passersby for money.

Carroll Jordan was stabbed in the abdomen, and the wound exposed his intestines. Terry Backus suffered minor injuries to his head and arm during the attack.

Jordan told police he was weaving palm fronds, using a knife, when a man he only knew as “Carlito” began accusing him of pulling a knife on him. Jordan said he folded his knife and put it in his pocket. That’s when Martinez Ruiz pulled his knife, police said.

Carlito is Martinez Ruiz, police said.

Another witness said the fight began when Martinez Ruiz sucker-punched Kenneth Fleming in the head, knocking him to the ground. Jordan and Backus tried to intervene when Ruiz allegedly pulled a knife from his backpack, the witness said.

Backus told police he was in the panhandling zone with Jordan when Jordan and Martinez Ruiz began arguing.

Martinez Ruiz went to his backpack and produced a six-inch, fixed blade knife and plunged the knife into Jordan, a witness told police.

Jordan was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center in Miami.

Martinez Ruiz left the scene, leaving his camouflage backpack and roller blades behind.

Martinez Ruiz has prior convictions for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and battery. He served prison time, during which he had two battery offenses, police said.

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