77-year-old ‘innocent bystander’ stabbed last month during facemask dispute has died

The assailant was later shot and killed when he charged a sheriff’s deputy.

An elderly man stabbed last month during a dispute over a facemask has died, the Lansing State Journal reported, citing the man’s son.

John Duncan III, 77, died Saturday, according to his son, Jeff Blastic. Duncan was stabbed on July 14 by a man who refused employees’ request that he wear a mask — per the governor’s orders — at a Quality Dairy store in Windsor Township, police said. Duncan had been in critical condition since the incident.

Police said that Sean Ruis, 43, stabbed Duncan and fled. Ruis was shot dead about 30 minutes later when he charged at an Eaton County Sheriff’s deputy who attempted a traffic stop, as CrimeOnline previously reported.

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Michigan State Police initially said Ruis got into an argument with the elderly man, but Quality Dairy officials said in a Facebook post that Duncan was an “innocent bystander:”

“The assailant had been asked by a staff member to wear a mask in the store and he refused. He then attacked the other gentleman. At no point did the injured gentleman address the assailant in any way. Contrary to some reporting, the injured man did not confront the assailant, follow him outside or even speak to him.”

An employee called 911 and told the dispatcher that the elderly man was alert but had been stabbed in the neck multiple times, the State Journal said.

After the incident, an Eaton County Sheriff’s deputy spotted Ruis’s car in Delta Township and attempted a traffic stop. As seen on her body camera and security footage from a nearby house, Ruis got out of the car with two knives and a screwdriver and approached the officer, ignoring her calls to “drop the weapon” as she backed away. When he charged at her — at one point with his hand over her service weapon — she opened fire.

Ruis, an employee with the Michigan Department of Transportation, was taken to a hospital and died in surgery, the Detroit News said.

Police have not released the name of the 22-year veteran of the sheriff’s department but said she had been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation by Michigan State Police, which is still ongoing.

The sheriff’s office released the deputy’s body camera footage, and state police released the home security video. Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich said the video makes clear the deputy “was in fact in fear of her life.”

“It’s very unfortunate that she had to use her weapon but she saved her life; that’s the most important thing right here,” Reich said. “She had to use deadly force, and she did it properly, and I’m glad she wasn’t harmed in any way.”

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[Featured image: Screenshot from Eaton County Sheriff’s Office video]