L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies use science to catch Norwalk shooter

NORWALK – A Norwalk man who fired a bullet into the air and wounded a 12-year-old girl was sentenced to more than four years in prison after a detective used ballistic evidence to tie a handgun to the crime, authorities said on Thursday.


Andres Ruiz, 35, pleaded no contest on Feb. 2 to charges that he discharged a firearm in a grossly negligent manner, with a special allegation of great bodily injury, according to statement released by the Norwalk Sheriff’s Station.


The girl was injured at roughly 8:15 a.m. on Nov. 28 in the 14000 block of Jersey Avenue in Norwalk when a bullet “fell from the sky and struck the girl on her forehead,” deputies said.


“The impact of the bullet caused extensive non-life threatening trauma to the girl's eyebrow and eyelid,” deputies said.


The girl was taken to a hospital for treatment and is continuing to recover.


“Initially, it was unclear how the girl was injured,” deputies said. “Witnesses did not see or hear anything that would have explained the unforeseen injury.  However, after a .40-caliber bullet was found inside the girl's backpack, the authorities were alerted.''


The Norwalk Sheriff’s Station said Detective Mark Christiansen led the investigation.


“Detective Christiansen researched projectile patterns and the velocity of bullets fired in the air,'' deputies said. “He scrutinized calls for service in an effort to identify any information which would explain where the bullet came from. Unfortunately, all the diligent investigative work failed to uncover any clues in solving the case.”


A break in the case came on Jan. 24, when the Norwalk station received a call about 9:50 a.m. regarding gunshots heard in the area of Gard Avenue.


Patrol deputies responded to the area and located expended shell casings in the street, according to authorities.


“Based on witness statements, deputies detained a suspect near the scene.  The suspect was in possession of a loaded .40-caliber handgun,” deputies said.


Christiansen collaborated with the deputy assigned to the call, and “something resonated with him.”


“The caliber of bullet, the proximity of the gunfire, and the time of the incident led him to immediately think of the injured girl,” deputies said.


After investigators consulted personnel from the Los Angeles Regional Crime Lab, the ballistic report confirmed the bullet which struck the girl was fired from the suspect's .40-caliber handgun.

NewsChristian Brown