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Authorities probe officer-involved shooting

Deputies placed on administrative leaze

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Law enforcement officers talk Saturday at the scene of a fatal shooting involving Nash County deputies in Bailey.

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Saturday, February 9, 2019

BAILEY — Three Nash County deputies are on administrative leave and a close-knit Hispanic community is shattered after an officer-involved shooting claimed the life of a 28-year-old man early Saturday morning.

Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone told the Telegram that a 911 call was routed to the Nash County Sheriff’s Office early Saturday morning concerning a report of a sexual assault. The victim reportedly identified the vehicle and deputies tracked the vehicle and followed it to a location on the 1200 block of Maudis Road in Bailey where the suspect lived. 

“When the suspect exited the vehicle, he pulled out an AR-style weapon from the back seat and my officers had to defend themselves,” Stone said.

The victim of the shooting has been identified by family members as Jonathan Ramirez, 28. Ramirez died at the scene, Nash County Chief Deputy Brandon Medina said in a press release issued early Saturday morning.

When members of the family were interviewed by the Telegram about 11 a.m. Saturday morning, they said they had no idea why deputies had come to their close-knit community and shot one of their own.

Denise Zuniga, a first cousin of Ramirez, said the first anyone in the family knew of the matter was when they heard the gunshots.

“Everyone around here is family and they all heard the shots. Three shots even went into my sister's house next door,” she said. “If they had been in the room, they would have been killed.”

The cluster of mobile homes in the area where the shooting occurred was filled with family members soon after the shooting took place.

“I told the cops this is not the neighborhood coming together, this all family. There are like a hundred of us. Even the ones like me that don't live in this neighborhood got the call this morning that one of us had been shot and we all came together. Our family is like this. We are all close and you just killed one of us,” Zuniga said.

Gloria Cortez, Ramirez’s aunt, said she lives in the nearby Sims community and she was notified by family members about 6 a.m. 

“I got a call from a niece saying ‘They shot my brother!’ I was told that two police cars pulled up about 5 a.m. and just shot him — no one knows why. There was no disturbance. Everyone was asleep. They were woken up by the shots the police fired.”

Francisca Ramirez, the mother of the slain man, said Jonathan was the second of her six children. He lived with her, she said, and she was awakened by the sound of gunfire.

“I heard four or five gunshots and I ran outside and my son was on the ground, bleeding,” she said. “I feel like a crime has been committed at my own house. By the law.”

Family members said they are glad the State Bureau of Investigation was called right away to investigate the incident.

“I want to get to the bottom of this,” Francisca Ramirez said.

Stone said the Nash County Sheriff’s Office called in the SBI right away to investigate and will be holding its own investigation as well to see if proper protocols and procedures were followed. He said he feels certain that his men will be vindicated.

“The SBI has the weapon and we have reviewed body-cam footage and radio traffic at the time of the incident. Everything we have seen so far is consistent with what my deputies are saying,” Stone said.

Stone said his office is committed to being transparent about the incident, but he still regrets the outcome.

“This young man was born and raised in our community and our hearts go out to the family,” Stone said. “We regret that this had to happen. It is the first time in many, many years that we have had an officer involved in a shooting.”

The names of the three deputies involved in the shooting have not yet been released.

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