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Suspect arrested in Hattie Street slaying

Suspect arrested in Hattie Street slaying

Police have arrested a city man they say is responsible for the shooting death of Anthony Ruiz.

Police have arrested a city man they say is responsible for the shooting death of Anthony Ruiz.

Ruiz, 30, was killed inside an apartment at 527 Hattie St. the evening of July 6, police said.

Zachary V. Epperson, 31, of 1562 Carrie St. was charged late Saturday with felony second-degree manslaughter in connection with Ruiz’s death.

Police Lt. Brian Kilcullen said investigators allege that Epperson recklessly caused Ruiz’s death by mishandling a loaded shotgun.

He was arraigned Sunday morning and sent to the Schenectady County jail without bail, and is scheduled to appear Monday in City Court.

Epperson was arrested after he allegedly led police on a high-speed chase through the city and into Clifton Park Saturday evening.

“He’s the one we were looking for from the beginning,” Kilcullen said, adding investigators had not been able to find Epperson in the week after the shooting.

Police said officers spotted Epperson driving a vehicle just after 7 p.m. in the city, but he fled when they tried to stop him.

Officers lost sight of him about 7:20 p.m. when he was driving east on Route 146 in Clifton Park. Saratoga County sheriff deputies later found Epperson’s vehicle parked at a Clifton Park restaurant.

Just before 9 p.m., he was arrested when sheriff’s deputies saw him running from a pay phone at the restaurant. Epperson was taken back to Schenectady.

Kilcullen said Ruiz had been at the Hattie Street apartment of a friend July 6 for a backyard gathering with friends when he was hit by a shotgun blast in the living room.

Ruiz, a father or two, and Epperson had argued during the party, and then Ruiz was gunned down, police said.

Kilcullen said he doesn’t know how the two men knew each other or what they were arguing about. “They were acquainted, either direct friends or had mutual friends,” he said.

There was alcohol at the party, and it was possible that both men had been drinking, Kilcullen said.

It’s not Epperson’s first brush with the law. Records show he faced two first-degree burglary charges in Rotterdam in 2006 — one in March and the other in August. After the March incident, Epperson was rounded up along with 168 other fugitives in a regional sweep of alleged robbery and weapons offenders involving local police, the U.S. Marshals Service and state police.

During the sweep, Epperson was found in a bedroom closet.

He also was charged with criminal mischief in Schenectady in April 2005.

The disposition of those cases could not be determined Sunday.

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