Former Blazer killed

April 22, 2004, midnight | By Yicong Liu | 16 years, 9 months ago

Former Blair student Amos Antonio Morel-Ruiz, 20, was shot and killed during a dispute on March 20 in the McKenney Hills community of Silver Spring. Another former Blair student and one current Blair student were also injured in the shooting but sustained non-life-threatening wounds.

On the same day, 18-year-old Angel Toledo was arrested for the murder, which was the result of a dispute precipitated by a reason police have yet to determine, according to Montgomery County Police Department spokesperson Lucille Baur.

Before 2:50 a.m. on the 2100 block of Belvedere Boulevard, violence broke out between two groups of adult males, at least one of whom was armed, according to Baur. Police from the Third District received a call reporting gunshots in the Silver Spring area from a citizen and dispatched to the crime scene where they found Morel-Ruiz and three others injured in the courtyard of Forest Glen Apartments. Of the three others injured in the dispute, two were reported to have been injured by gunshot wounds and one from a smashed glass bottle across the head.

The names of those injured in the dispute are not being released to protect them as witnesses for an investigation conducted by Montgomery County Police Department's Major Crimes Division Homicide Section.

According to Baur, authorities have no evidence the shooting was the result of a gang dispute, although individuals involved in the case were identified as gang affiliates.

Student sources who knew Morel-Ruiz, a Blair attendee from 1998-2001, say he and the others were together at a party before they were unexpectedly ambushed. The fight is speculated to have been the result of tension between one of the Blair students and some members of Mara Salvatrucha, a Salvadoran gang that is commonly known as MS-13.

Security guard Steve Miller, who knew both the current and former Blair students, said he did not believe any of the three were affiliated with gangs during their time at this school.

Student sources and friends also believe that Morel-Ruiz was in the wrong place at the wrong time and that his death was unintended. "Someone ended up dead who shouldn't have been," said a Blair senior.

English teacher Bonnie Palmer, who taught Morel-Ruiz as a freshman, described her former student as being both pleasant and shy. "I thought that he was a quiet and cooperative boy. He didn't deserve to die," she said. Palmer was appalled when she received news of Morel-Ruiz's death through phone calls from his friends. "This is a wake-up call," she said. "Everybody has to be careful where they go and who they hang out with."

Morel-Ruiz's friends have felt his loss keenly. "I never thought I'd have a friend who would die like that, especially someone so genuine," said senior Joanna Mata. "You never think about the situation until someone really close to you gets hurt." Morel-Ruiz's friends have helped raise money for his family, and some have come to school wearing custom-designed T-shirts bearing his picture.

Sophomore Nelson Ruiz, Morel-Ruiz's cousin, remembers him as a great role model. "He was always leading me in the right direction. The last smart thing he told me was, ‘Stay in school. Stay out of trouble.'"

Like many who knew Morel-Ruiz, former Blair student Edwin Velasquez remembers his friend's constant cheerfulness and resilience. "No matter what the situation was, [Morel-Ruiz] was always smiling," he said.

Senior Thienminh Nguyen agreed. "Amos was a true boy," said Nguyen. "He always had a struggle, but he laughed and smiled through it."

Morel-Ruiz's wake was held on March 23 and 24 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Collins Funeral Home near Blair and had 200 attendees.

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Yicong Liu. Yicong Liu is a junior in the magnet program at Blair high school. She enjoys the many (I mean many) wonderful things in life, but mostly the fundamentals: food, sleep and fun. During the hectic school week, Yicong can be found staring at her computer … More »

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