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Vehicle recovered; shooting suspect still on the run

Posted November 11, 2007
Updated October 17, 2008

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— Cumberland County sheriff's deputies said they have found the Cadillac Escalade driven by a shooting suspect.

Joaquin Rangel Ramirez, 34, is wanted in connection with the Saturday night shooting of his wife outside Betsy Johnson Regional Hospital. He fled the scene in a white pearl 2002 Cadillac Escalade. The vehicle was found at about 4:45 p.m. Monday at 118 Rod St. in Fayetteville. Ramirez has yet to be apprehended.

After the shooting, Azucena D. Diaz, 28, was airlifted to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill. She was upgraded Monday from critical condition and officials said she seemed to be recovering.

When Ramirez left the hospital parking lot, he had his children with him, prompting authorities to issue an Amber Alert.

"The kids were with him at the time of the shooting. Apparently, they probably saw him shoot their mother," Dunn Police Chief B.P. Jones said. "He made innuendos that he was going to take his life, and, therefore, we became concerned of what would happen to the children."

Ramirez had previously threatened his wife, who had taken out a protective order against him last week, Jones said. The couple had been estranged for about three months.

The children were recovered at a relative's home in Fayetteville by 8:30 a.m. Sunday. They were unharmed and likely dropped off there by Ramirez, Jones said.

Jennifer Franklin, spokeswoman for Betsy Johnson, said hospital staff were shocked by the shooting. Diaz worked as a translator at the hospital.

"We are all very concerned. We are a close team here at Betsy Johnson Regional," Franklin said.

Administrators placed the hospital on a partial lockdown immediately after the shooting, according to protocol. They said tighter security measures will be in place until Ramirez is found.

"We did enhance security just to ensure the safety of our patients, their family members, our visitors, our physicians and our staff," Franklin said.

Jones warned that Ramirez was loose and considered to be armed and dangerous. He said police have no leads about his whereabouts and stressed that the public's help is needed to locate Ramirez.

Police described him as a Hispanic man, 5 feet 6 inches tall, 150 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. At the time of the shooting, he was wearing a blue and yellow jacket, police said.

Anyone with information on Ramirez whereabouts is urged to call the Dunn Police Department at 910-892-2399 or 910-892-2345.

54 Comments

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  • shine Nov 13, 2007

    These people are people ( they put their pants one leg at the time just like you ) they have feelings, they laugh, enjoy life, have children, have dreams of ...... success or whatever.

    No one spent as much time posting about the guy who stabbed his mom and "stuffed" in an outdoor shed where she died or either was dead before she got there.............

  • naturalborncitizen Nov 12, 2007

    Will the vehicle be up for auction any time soon?

  • rnsjr Nov 12, 2007

    Maybe he's on his way back to his homeland.

  • country girl Nov 12, 2007

    WHAT IS THE ISSUE ABOUT THE AMBER ALERT. IF THEY WERN'T HISPANICS OR MEXICANS AS SOME OF YOU CALL THEM, THE AMBER ALERT BEING ISSUED WOULD BE OF NO CONCERN. I KNOW THIS FAMILY PERSONALLY AND THEY ARE A WOMDERFUL FAMILY. THE YOUNG WOMAN SHOT WAS A MOTHER, SISTER, DAUGHTER AND FRIEND TO MANY OF US. SO WE SHOULD ALL BE PRAYING FOR HER AND HER FAMILY INSTEAD OF TALKING ABOUT HER INSURANCE ISSUES OR IF SHE IS LEGAL OR NOT. SHE IS A BEAUTIFUL YOUNG WOMEN WITH A FAMILY THAT LOVES AND CARES ABOUT HER. I WILL CERTAINLY PRAY FOR ALL OF YOU THAT ARE WORRIED ABOUT HER LEGAL STATUS AND HER MEANS OF PAYING A HOSPITAL BILL. AND BY THE WAY, HER BLOOD IS THE SAME COLOR AS YOURS AND MINE, RED. GOD WILL CARE FOR HER AND HER CHILDREN, I JUST HOPE HE WILL HELP ALL OF YOU RACISTS OUT THERE.

  • At Work Nov 12, 2007

    This story the first thing in everyones mind is his status, not that a woman was shot and might die or even the two poor kids that they may have saw there mother be shot by there dad. No the most important is his status. Come on people does it matter if shes illegal or not when/if she dies? Shes human and no one seems to care about that issue anymore.

  • Here kitty kitty Nov 12, 2007

    The article states that she was working, but doesn't mention that he was employed. But time will tell what most already suspect - that he's headed south of the border, and they don't mean So. Carolina!

  • carolinagirl23 Nov 12, 2007

    Regarding the question about studies on children's memories before the age of 4, there are some out there. I am working now and cannot look them up today but will try to in the future. Off the top of my head, I remember reading a book on childhood trauma by Lenore Terr (psychiatrist who studied childhood trauma) that tells of a 5 year old who drew pretty accurate pictures of abuse that happened to her at the age of 15 to 18 mos. She drew these pictures before anyone even knew she had been abused - police later found photographs of her being abused that were similar to what she drew. Not a study, but anecdotal evidence that this event unfortunately may impact these children psychologically.

  • arentyouclever Nov 12, 2007

    To those who jump to accusations of him leaving to Mexico (or Honduras, Venezula, etc) I missed the part of the article that mentions that this guy isn't a citizen of this country, much less an undocumented alien. In fact, since his wife is an EMPLOYEE of the hospital it seems very likely that she (another - gasp - person with a hispanic name) is a legal, employeed productive member of the community. Unfortunately scum is as likely to be American as any other nationality. Don't try to hide that fact behind a facade of racism.

  • doodad Nov 12, 2007

    Steve, I remember my grandfather who died when I was two years old. Only one visual memory of him, but I do remember. I remember other things before I was four, so I guess it can vary from person to person.

  • whocares Nov 12, 2007

    I heard that he was supposed to be dropping them off with their mother. This guy needs to be caught fast. What he did was horrible and then to do it in front of his children is even worse. Put him in prison and see what happens.

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