March 24, 2014

‘All I want to do is bring him back, and I can’t’ (Updated: 1:20 p.m.)

Friend recalls murder victim

Police say Orlando Ramirez calls himself “Smiley.”

At just 20 years old, the shooting suspect wanted for a weekend murder and another assault is a documented gang member who has been in prison at least twice, records show.

Yet the person friends say was truly the “smiling” and happy one was the man Dalton police say Ramirez killed just after midnight on Sunday — Bruno Rodriguez, a 28-year-old security guard.

According to the Dalton Police Department, Ramirez, tried to go into Las Delicias, a night club on East Morris Street, and was told he couldn’t go in because he was underage. Police say Ramirez shot and wounded another security guard, who asked not to be identified in media reports. Friend LeeAnn Jones said Ramirez was trying to shoot others when Rodriguez tackled him before Ramirez fatally shot Rodriguez in the head.

Jones said she just wishes she could bring back the man she describes as a hard worker from a close-knit family.

“Bruno would have helped anyone, anytime,” Jones said. “He was the smiley, happy one. He sincerely would do anything for anyone with a smile on his face. He was always happy, always positive.”

Jones said Rodriguez worked at The Spiced Apple restaurant and at J&D Auto Sales before getting a job at Las Delicias. When Rodriguez died, those who knew him “lost one of our brightest smiles,” she said.

“All I want to do is bring him back, and I can’t,” Jones said. “He did not deserve this.”

According to information on the Georgia Department of Corrections website, Ramirez was released April 1, 2013, from Ware State Prison after being sentenced to 10 years in prison for convictions in Whitfield County stemming from “gang participation” crimes in 2010 and 2011. Officials have said Ramirez was arrested at least five times in Dalton. Whether he was convicted all five times wasn’t immediately clear.

Supporters have set up the Bruno Rodriguez Memorial Page on Facebook in Rodriguez’s honor.

Rodriguez grew up in the area and attended Dalton High School for ninth and 10th grade in 2000-2002. Whether he transferred to a different local school after his sophomore year wasn’t immediately clear.

Jones said supporters are working to organize various fundraisers to help the family. Anyone interested in helping can contact Jones at (706) 618-4189.

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