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Inmate beaten to death with soap-filled sock half hour after he was put in cell with rival gang member: prosecutors

Christian Gonzalez had previously beaten an inmate in a similar fashion before murdering 19-year-old Pedro Ruiz Feb. 1, officials said.

Cook County Jail
A murder charge has been filed in the beating death of detainee Petro Ruiz at Cook County Jail, officials say.
File photo

An inmate beaten to death last weekend at Cook County Jail suffered injuries so severe, they were similar to those of a person who had been involved in a car crash, Cook County prosecutors said in court Thursday.

Pedro Ruiz, 19, was found by correctional officers unresponsive in his cell early Feb. 1 in a maximum security division of Cook County Jail, according to the Cook County sheriff’s office.

Christian Gonzalez, 24, faces a charge of first-degree murder in Ruiz’s death and is accused of beating the younger man with a sock filled with bars of soap and dragging Ruiz about the cell by his hair, prosecutors said.

Judge Arthur Wesley Willis noted in his decision to deny Gonzalez bail that the beating had taken place almost immediately after Ruiz was transferred into the cell.

“This individual, you sir,” Willis said directing his comments to Gonzalez directly, “poses a real and present danger. ... No bail.”

Pedro Ruiz (left) and Christian Gonzalez
Pedro Ruiz (left) and Christian Gonzalez
Cook County sheriff’s office

Gonzalez, a member of the Satan Disciples street gang, beat Ruiz to death because he was a member of a rival street gang, the Latin Saints, prosecutors said.

Gonzalez was already being held without bail on charges that include attempted murder in connection with a gang-related shooting where a member of the Latin Saints was the victim, prosecutors said. In that shooting in June 2017, Gonzalez allegedly fired at least 11 rounds from an assault-style rifle at a father and his 3-year-old son, striking the father in the leg and hip and causing the man’s son to suffer a graze wound to the leg, prosecutors said.

In November, while being held on that charge, Gonzalez was accused of participating in the stabbing and beating of another detainee at the jail, also with a “soap sock,” prosecutors said. After the detainee was left lying in a pool of his own blood, Gonzalez walked over and dropped a joker playing card on him, prosecutors said. He was hit with another count of attempted murder after that incident.

Murder after midnight

In the latest case, prosecutors said Ruiz, who was being held without bail on an attempted murder charge, was brought to the cell about 12:30 a.m. Feb. 1.

A half hour later, surveillance video from the jail showed a light in the cell turn on and for 10 minutes, Gonzalez can be seen through a window raising and bringing down his arm as if he is beating someone on the floor, prosecutors said.

At 1:30 a.m., a correctional officer performing a security check came by the cell and spoke to Gonzalez, who told the officer “something was wrong with his cellmate,” prosecutors said. The officer called a supervisor, but the supervisor and others didn’t arrive at the cell for another 20 minutes. Gonzalez was placed in handcuffs and admitted to beating Ruiz to death without being questioned, prosecutors said.

Paramedics arrived shortly after 2 a.m., and Ruiz was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead of multiple injuries from the beating. He had internal bleeding from a “major neck injury” similar to those suffered by people involved in a car crash that appears to be from Ruiz being dragged around the cell by his hair, prosecutors said.

In a statement, the sheriff’s office said it “launched a thorough internal investigation of all the factors involved in this case. We take all acts of violence in the jail extremely seriously and work tirelessly to prevent those intent on committing harm from being able to do so.”

Asked if inmates are still asked about gang ties when they enter the jail, a sheriff’s spokesman said, “we do have a gang intelligence unit in the jail and we monitor gang activity and affiliations.”