Coast Guard, partner agencies stop murder suspect from fleeing

Coast Guard District 7 NewsMIAMI – Coast Guard crews responded to what at first appeared to be a search and rescue case, but quickly switched to a law enforcement role approximately 11 miles southwest of Cay Sal Island, Bahamas on Friday.

Noel Sosa-Ruiz, 41, the sole operator of the vessel was the primary suspect to a homicide in Houston where he was suspected of killing his wife.

Coast Guard crews responded to a suspected stolen 20-foot center console vessel near the Bahamas reportedly taking on water Friday.

At 10:30 a.m., Friday, watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Key West, Fla., received notification from a Customs and Border Protection Dash-8 aircraft of two red flares fired from a center console vessel that appeared to be dead in the water and in need of assistance.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Nantucket was diverted to the vessels position.

An HC-144 Ocean Sentry fixed-wing aircraft crew from Coast Guard Air Station Miami relieved the CBP aircraft and dropped a radio, raft, food and a de-watering pump to the vessel. Sosa-Ruiz only retrieved the radio and pump. Sosa-Ruiz was not in need of assistance and used gasoline from the pump to get his engine started and preceded southbound.

The vessel ran out of fuel and was met by Good Samaritans aboard the motor vessel Four Nabucco, who passed his position to Coast Guard watchstanders. Four Nabucco crew members also passed the vessel registration numbers. The registration numbers matched with a case of a stolen vessel from Key Largo, Fla.

The Cutter Nantucket arrived on scene at approximately 6:00 p.m. While making their approach, Sosa-Ruiz fired one shot directly into his chest and took his own life. The boarding team approached the vessel by smallboat, went aboard and confirmed the operator was non-responsive.

Nantucket crew members took the vessel in tow and transferred the body of Sosa-Ruiz and the stolen vessel to Sector Key West Saturday.

“Coast Guard crews remain always ready and vigilant to meet the challenges of our many diverse missions,” said, Capt. Pat DeQuattro, Coast Guard Sector Key West commander. “What started out as a search and rescue case turned into a law enforcement mission for our Coast Guard crews and partner agencies. Through close coordination with our partner agencies, we were able to apprehend and keep an extremely dangerous fugitive from fleeing the country.”

The Coast Guard Investigative Service in coordination with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies are investigating this case.

The cutter Nantucket is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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