The Sole Survivor of the MS-13 Massacre Also Belonged to a Gang: A Lawyer
The only survivor of a deadly Long Island ambush by MS-13 was a member of the vicious gang – and went home to sleep after his four buddies were massacred, defense attorneys said in court on Tuesday.
Elmer Alexander Arteaga Ruiz, the key witness in the federal murder trial of alleged conspirator Leniz “Little Devil” Escobar, testified in cross-examination that he never bothered to call the cops or let anyone know that this was just after fleeing the 2017 massacre in a Central Islip park – adding that he was unaware that everyone with him was fatally bludgeoned.
“After you escaped, you didn’t know if your friends were injured or needed help? asked defense attorney Jesse Siegel.
“I didn’t know anything about them,” Ruiz replied. “Did you go home?” said Siegel.
“Yes,” Ruiz replied.
“To sleep?” said Siegel.
Ruiz replied, “Well, that might sound cowardly, but my mind was in turmoil and all I wanted to do was go to bed and be home safe.”
He told Siegel he went to work on his landscaping job the next day – and a police witness said Ruiz then led cops to the gruesome scene that day.
Siegel also claimed in court Tuesday that Ruiz admitted to a police officer that he was a member of MS-13 less than a month before the massacre that killed four young men.
In a bizarre exchange in the courtroom, Ruiz, 22, denied ever telling the cop he was a member during his marijuana arrest on March 15, 2017 – although the conversation is mentioned in a report from police.
“[The officer] asked you a lot of questions about your MS-13 affiliation,” Siegel told Ruiz.
Ruiz replied: “I will be frank.
“[The cop] said: ‘Donald Trump doesn’t want you here, so I’m going to do whatever I have to to get you out of here.’ “
Then-President Trump visited Long Island in July 2017 to speak out against street gangs, particularly the ultra-violent MS-13, noting the quadruple murder of Ruiz’s cronies a few months prior.
Siegel said:[The officer] asked you about the MS-13? »
Ruiz replied: “No, the only thing he said to me was about Donald Trump.
“[Ambush victim] Michael [Lopez] could understand it, and he told me that,” Ruiz said, indicating that Lopez helped translate the cop’s comments from English to Spanish for him.
But Siegel introduced a Facebook Messenger exchange between Ruiz and some of the possible victims of the April 11, 2017 attack, telling them how to join MS-13.
“I’m down,” wrote Jorge Tigre, victim of an ambush. “I will do it.”
Ruiz identified himself during the online exchange as “Alexander”, followed by the hand sign MS-13 and the number 13.
Escobar, 22, an MS-13 addict, is accused of luring Ruiz and his friends to their deaths to curry favor with the gang.
In Monday’s testimony, Ruiz said Escobar and another teenager invited the witness and his friends to smoke marijuana in the park when they were attacked by “eight or nine” members of MS-13.
Ruiz fled, while his four buddies were slaughtered with machetes, knives, an ax and even tree branches, according to police.
Lopez, 20, Tigre, 18, and Jefferson Villalobos, 18, and Justin Llivicura, 16, were killed in the attack, authorities said.
In separate testimony Tuesday, Suffolk County Homicide Detective Jeffrey Bottari described the bloody carnage at Long Island Park.
“I saw the unimaginable, or so I thought until I saw this,” Bottari said.
He said investigators found “two very large pools of blood”, as well as “brain matter, pieces of human skull, skull fractures, streak marks, blood streak.
“Droplets of blood on the fence where people had tried to escape,” he testified. “The bodies were dragged down the asphalt road.”
Escobar’s trial began on Monday and is expected to last three to four weeks.