Deadline Miami

Suspect in Miami hotel carjacking caught

Hotel and valet employees survey the damaged cars at the scene where several people were struck by a carjacker as he raced out of the JW Marriott Marquis in a late model luxury car on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 in downtown Miami.
Hotel and valet employees survey the damaged cars at the scene where several people were struck by a carjacker as he raced out of the JW Marriott Marquis in a late model luxury car on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 in downtown Miami. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

A carjacker left a trail of injured people and damaged vehicles at a downtown Miami hotel Wednesday morning, after forcing a woman from her car and fighting off a valet worker who tried to stop him.

Police found the car — a brand new Lexus, still sporting a paper license tag and a badly damaged front end — within two hours about a mile from the chaotic scene.

But the man suspected of stealing it remained on the loose until Wednesday night, when police said they apprehended Alberto Ruiz, 50. He faces several felony charges, including for carjacking.

Ruiz was caught at the Ramona Motel at 3301 W. Flagler St. Police said he resisted arrest. Officers used a stun gun and then took an injured Ruiz to Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Four people hit by the car were taken to Jackson earlier in the day. One was in serious condition at the hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center late Wednesday. Some of the injured were hotel workers; the others were driving vehicles that were smashed by the fleeing Lexus.

The woman who had just purchased the Lexus was pushed down by the carjacker but was not seriously hurt, police said. They didn’t release her name.

Five cars were damaged, including the stolen 2015 charcoal gray Lexus 350 with red interior, which was found at 643 SW 11th St.

Miami police said throughout the day that they believed they knew the carjacker’s identity. But they didn’t release Ruiz’s name until after he was caught.

“He’s going to be found. He’s an active downtown criminal. He’s not going to vanish,” Det. Rene Pimentel said earlier in the day.

Pimentel said that the suspect has committed a pair of similar incidents in the downtown area and that he was identified through witness accounts and surveillance video obtained from the hotel. Ruiz has a lengthy Florida criminal record.

The scene at the J.W. Marriott Marquis Hotel, just north of the Miami River at 255 Biscayne Boulevard Way, brought downtown traffic to a slow crawl and attracted throngs of onlookers. A white Chevrolet sedan with its bumper torn off could clearly be seen from the street as two women cleared the valet area of metal and glass shards.

The valet area where the carjacking took place is only about 10 feet wide, maybe enough room for two cars at a time. It runs mostly in a circular pattern, making it difficult to navigate, especially when it’s busy, which is most of the time at the popular downtown hotel.

Hotel spokesman Israel Kreps directed questions to Miami police.

“The safety and well-being of our guests is always our highest priority. We are fully cooperating with the authorities,” he said.

Related stories from Miami Herald

  Comments