Local News

Cop shooter's accomplice brain dead after jail suicide attempt

SPOKANE, Wash. - The Spokane County Jail says an inmate who apparently attempted to commit suicide by hanging was not alone in his cell at the time.

Robert Ruth tried to hang himself inside the Spokane County Jail last Friday and was facing a charge connected to the shooting of a pair of sheriff's deputies last month.

Corrections officers say when they discovered Robert Ruth inside his cell Friday morning he did not have a pulse.

"Friday morning at shift change our corrections deputies found Mr. Ruth unresponsive in his cell. They cut him down (as) he was hanging. They attempted to save his life by providing CPR," Spokane County Jail Captain John McGrath said.

Corrections deputies were able to get a pulse and Ruth, 42, was taken to the hospital where doctors could not find any sign of brain activity.

Ruth is being kept alive on life support.

Ruth was accused of helping gunman Charles Wallace hide from police after he walked away from a court ordered drug rehabilitation center. He managed to post a $100,000 bond following his arrest, but was re-arrested on July 25 on a domestic violence charge.

Robert Ruth hanging Spokane County Jail

Deputies found him unresponsive in his cell two days later.

In the days prior to the June 19 shootings of deputies Matt Spink and Mike Northway, investigators, seeking the whereabouts of Wallace, interviewed Ruth, who had supplied Wallace with heroin in the past. Ruth told investigators in the interview he had only seen Wallace once after his escape and didn't know where he was.

Cell phone records, however, show the men had talked 17 times since Wallace left the drug rehab facility. Detectives started watching Ruth's property and spotted, the afternoon before the shooting, a man who resembled Wallace helping Ruth load motorcycles onto a trailer.

When Wallace left the residence, detectives followed his Chevy Tahoe and asked deputies in marked patrol cars to pull him over.

Deputies Spink and Northway pulled the Tahoe over and Wallace opened fire on them, hitting them both and fled the scene, stealing a car and leading officers on a high-speed chase that ended with him crashing his car after hitting some spike strips near the intersection of Highway 395 and Crawford.

As officers closed in on the vehicle Wallace shot and killed himself.

Capt. McGrath said that deputies are investigating Ruth's attempted hanging.

"We're investigating the incident. He was found unresponsive. He did have a cell mate so we want to understand how he became unresponsive," he said.

Ruth's family said Monday that they don't believe Ruth would take his own life and think he may have become re-addicted to drugs when he was treated for a gunshot wound he suffered when he was the victim of a home invasion robbery back in May.