A Fort Worth fugitive officer who helped arrest six gang members after a deadly after-hours bar shooting and later helped arrest a murder suspect who had been the subject of an intensive manhunt, has been named the 2014 Officer of the Year.
Officer Michael Ruelas received the honor Thursday night during the 63rd annual awards dinner, hosted by the Fort Worth Police Officers’ Award Foundation.
Ruelas, a 20-year department veteran who has been with the fugitive unit since 2004, has the computer skills and technological know-how to help him locate information, according to a news release.
He has a knack for getting people to share information with a calm demeanor that puts people at ease, according to a nomination letter.
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“The danger he encounters daily is something he doesn’t think twice about when conducting his job,” the nomination letter stated. “He makes real sacrifices to ensure public safety.”
Officials say Ruelas was vital in apprehending six suspects in a shootout on Aug. 3 at the Siin Lounge on Jacksboro Highway that left one man dead and two wounded.
And in December, Ruelas captured Kristun Sean Madewell, 40, who was wanted in a fatal shooting in Fort Worth. Madewell had fled from officers trying to arrest him on a murder warrant.
Ruelas was conducting surveillance when Madewell and an associate, Darril Hagger Karl Jr., became suspicious that their pickup was being followed. Karl rammed one of the unmarked police cars, which sent the pickup into a brick wall off Farm Road 1187 in Crowley. Karl tried to run but was chased and tackled by Ruelas, the nomination form said.
Both Karl and Madewell were arrested and remained in Tarrant County Jail on Thursday awaiting trial — Madewell on a murder charge and Karl on a charge of aggravated assault of a public servant.
Others honored Thursday night were:
▪ Commander of the Year: Lt. Pedro Criado
▪ Dwayne Freeto Service with Respect award: Detective Charla Smith and Officer Mark Windsor
▪ Central Northwest Command: Officer Kirby Proffitt
▪ Southeast Command: Officer Edward Donnelly
▪ Specialized Units: Officer Derrick Lopez
▪ Supervisor of the Year: Sgt. Gilbert Banda
Deanna Boyd, 817-390-7655