MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Deputies have arrested one suspect and are searching for two others in a string of burglaries and other crimes that all happened on February 13.
The County Sheriff’s Office has charged Rueben Vasquez and issued a warrant for Jerzey Jahiem Russ, 17, of Port St. Joe, in connection with nine car burglaries, an attempted car theft, and the grand theft of a firearm in the Mexico Beach area.
Shortly after midnight on February 13 BCSO deputies in Mexico Beach attempted a traffic stop on a white SUV with a Pennsylvania tag. The vehicle fled into Gulf County but was observed returning to Bay County a short time later. The vehicle accelerated again and fled into a neighborhood when deputies tried another traffic stop. The vehicle was located, abandoned, a few minutes later on Ocean View Drive. When the tag was run, deputies learned the vehicle was reported stolen out of Collier County, Florida.
Deputies and investigators developed information that one of the individuals in the vehicle Jerzey Russ had no driver’s license and was wanted in Gulf County for grand theft of an automobile.
Then, a 2020 white Ford 250 was reported stolen in Mexico Beach in the early morning hours of February 13, 2020. The owner of the truck stated there had been a Glock 42 in the center console. Also reported in the same area where the pursuit took place were nine car burglaries of unlocked vehicles. Flashlights, earbuds, purses, a cellphone, and lottery tickets were stolen.
At about 10:00 am that same morning, the owner of the stolen Ford 250 logged into his vehicle’s GPS and located it in the woods near N. Garrison Ave and Avenue A in Port St. Joe. The Gulf County Sheriff’s Office was notified and responded to the wooded area, finding the vehicle and a man and woman in the area. The man was identified as Ruben Vasquez, the woman as Emily Bonn. Both were wanted in Collier County on numerous charges.
During an interview, Bonn stated that Rueben Vasquez, Jerzey Russ and she had come to Bay County in the stolen white SUV on February 12. When they came to Mexico Beach around midnight on February 13, they had several other people in the vehicle with them. Bonn stated a woman whose name she did not know asked to drive. She was driving when law enforcement attempted a traffic stop and she fled, deputies wrote in a news release.
Russ had her drive into a neighborhood, asked Rueben Vasquez if he “was ready” and the two of then left the vehicle and walked away. The woman drove around when they were seen by the second BCSO deputy and they fled, eventually abandoning the vehicle on Ocean View Drive, deputies wrote. Bonn then caught a ride back to Port St. Joe to a home she was staying at with Vasquez and Russ. Both men returned that morning, telling her they had gotten another vehicle, slept in it overnight, and hidden it in nearby woods.
Bonn and Vasquez were returning to get the vehicle when the Gulf County deputy spotted them near the stolen vehicle, deputies wrote.
BCSO investigators were able to obtain security video of two men they believe are Russ and Vasquez checking door handles in Mexico Beach to find unlocked vehicles to burglarize. Vasquez and Russ are believed connected to the nine car burglaries reported that night in Mexico Beach, as well as the theft of the white 2020 Ford 250 with the handgun.
Russ is charged with nine counts of burglary of a conveyance, attempted grand theft, and grand theft of a firearm. Rueben Vasquez has been held by the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office for Collier County warrants and charges for burglary of a conveyance, attempted grand theft, and grand theft of a firearm out of Bay County.
Investigators are working to identify the woman who was driving when she fled law enforcement. She will be charged with fleeing and eluding. Anyone with information on the location of Jerzey Jahiem Russ is asked to call the BCSO at 747-4700 or Crime Stoppers at 785-TIPS.