On the evening of June 9 four deputies from the City of Industry Station in Los Angeles County responded to a “man with a gun” call at a Motel 6 in Hacienda Heights. When the deputies arrived at the door of the second-floor unit they were confronted by 51 year-old Paul Smith of Whittier who came out shooting. Smith’s weapon not immediately identified, he was armed with a pellet gun which closely resembled a 40 caliber semiautomatic pistol and, in the heat of the moment, the deputies could not distinguish it from the real thing.
Deputies returned fire. Smith was killed, Arruda was hit in the neck and another deputy was struck by a pellet but not seriously wounded. Arruda was apparently dodging one of the pellets from Smith’s weapon, stepped into the line of fire, and was struck by one of the rounds fired by a fellow deputy.
Deputy Arruda was transported by helicopter to the Los Angeles County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where he remained in critical condition, finally succumbing to his injury on June 15.
Investigators, attempting to find a motive for Mr. Smith’s actions determined that he had been living in the Motel for a year after losing his home and his job two years before. He had no criminal record and had just purchased the pellet gun and a hunting knife the day before the deadly incident.
Investigators deduced that, based on his actions, Smith was bent on dying and chose to have some peace officers do it for him.
Michael Arruda was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts and served four years in the Navy before joining the Sheriff’s Department in May 1991. He had been assigned to the men’s Central Jail for eight years before transferring to Industry Station in year 2000.
Described by his supervisors as “an outstanding, hard-working, reliable, diligent team player”, Arruda had been the recipient of numerous commendations. He was a fitness buff, weight lifter and a runner who had participated in the annual Baker-to-Vegas Relay Race.
On the morning of June 21, more than 1,000 uniformed peace officers from a myriad of law enforcement agencies joined members of Michael Arruda’s family, his fellow deputies, friends, neighbors, Sheriff Leroy Baca, Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton, Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, and members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors at the Calvary Chapel in Diamond Bar to pay their final respects. Following a most fitting memorial tribute, an escort of more than 100 law enforcement vehicles escorted Deputy Michael R. Arruda to his final resting place at Forest Lawn in Covina Hills.
Deputy Arruda is survived by his eleven-year-old son Michael, Jr. and his fiance Sgt. Lidia Silva, also a deputy, who is expecting their daughter, already named Savannah, in August.
A trust fund has been established to help provide for the education of the two children. Contributions can be sent to “Sheriff’s Relief Fund No. 272”, C/0 City of Industry Station, 150 N. Hudson Ave., City of Industry, CA 91744.