Louisiana inmate escapes custody after pepper spraying deputy, stealing car: Sheriff

ByDarren Reynolds, Jolie Lash and Megan Wordell ABCNews logo
Monday, February 26, 2024

A convicted felon who had been in custody on a second-degree murder charge escaped on Sunday after pepper spraying his transporting deputy and stealing her car, authorities said.

The inmate, Leon Ruffin, should be considered "armed and dangerous," Sheriff Joseph Lopinto of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office in Louisiana, told the media Sunday night at a press briefing.

Lopinto said he doesn't believe the man "has anything to lose" as he could be facing life in prison if convicted on the second-degree murder charge.

Ruffin had been transferred from the medical facility in the corrections center to a local hospital around noon on Sunday on the advice of the medical team after suffering from a possible seizure. After being treated at the hospital, Ruffin created some type of disturbance as he was being driven out of the hospital parking lot, Lopinto said. The female deputy got out of the car and he pepper sprayed her, the official said. The suspect then took the deputy's vehicle, he added.

The deputy fired shots at the car but does not know if Ruffin was hit.

At present, authorities do not know where the suspect got the pepper spray. The deputy still had her pepper spray, taser and weapon following his escape.

Authorities have contacted the family of the victim in Ruffin's alleged second-degree murder case.

Prior to his trip to the hospital, Ruffin had been in the medical unit at the corrections facility, but Lopinto said they believed he was faking his injuries.

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