Suspect initially unaware he had shot anyone, court documents reveal

Crime Watch

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Jose Antonio Ruiz-Juarez | Bonneville County Jail

IDAHO FALLS — An Idaho Falls man didn’t know he had shot another man in the head until a bystander frantically ran over and told him the devastating news.

That’s according to court documents obtained by EastIdahoNews.com.

Jose Antonio Ruiz-Juarez, 34, is charged with felony involuntary manslaughter in connection to the May shooting of Michael A. Ephram.

The incident happened after Ephram, his wife, two children and brother-in-law arrived at a rural Bonneville County property along Highway 20 on May 11. Ephram and his brother-in-law took turns shooting and after about 15 minutes, they heard gunshots from the south. They thought it was “really close,” according to court documents.

Ephram and his brother-in-law were standing outside of their GMC Yukon while Ephram’s wife and children sat inside. Around 6:40 p.m., one of the SUV windows shattered and Ephram fell to the ground bleeding from the head.

Ephram’s brother-in-law ran to where the shooting was coming from and encountered 34-year-old Jose Antonio Ruiz-Juarez, his girlfriend and five children. They were shooting a borrowed semi-automatic rifle, according to court documents.

RELATED: One man dead following weekend shooting incident in Bonneville County

Ephram’s wife dialed 911 and the group loaded the bleeding man into the SUV, rushing him to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. Paramedics met the group near 35th West and West Broadway Street and took Ephram to the ER where he was pronounced dead.

The approximate location of the shooting incident that killed a 23-year-old Idaho Falls man. | Google Maps

Ruiz-Juarez told detectives he was shooting at a log sticking out from an old bunker and he fired anywhere from five to 10 shots.

“In this position when Jose was shooting to the east, he was shooting in an upward trajectory,” according to detectives in their report. “Jose would have been unable to see what was on the other side of the hill.”

Detectives parked their Chevy Tahoe in the position of Ephram’s SUV and noted the difficulty in seeing the vehicle from where Ruiz-Juarez had been shooting due to dense sagebrush.

“In interviews with Jose, he admitted to shooting in the direction where Ephram’s family was parked,” according to court documents. “He never saw anyone until (Ephram’s brother-in-law) came up the hill waving his arms and he did not intend to hurt anyone.”

Ruiz-Juarez is scheduled to appear for his next court hearing on June 28.

If convicted of the charge Ruiz-Juarez could spend up to 10 years in prison.

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