Ruby Garcia murder suspect spent the night at the church before turning herself in

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GANGES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The day after Ruby Garcia was shot and killed along US-131 in Grand Rapids, the now-confessed killer wandered into a church more than 40 miles away, and no one knows why he went there.

However, there Brandon Ortiz Vito Spent the night.

The pastor of Ganges United Methodist Church in Allegan County said he believes events that happened that night and during Sunday services the following morning prompted him to turn himself in.

“I think God touched him,” Pastor Marcia Tucker said.

On the afternoon of March 23, someone accidentally left the church door open, and a parishioner called the pastor to say they had found a stranger inside.

Undated photo of Ruby Garcia (March 25, 2024)
Undated photo of Ruby Garcia (March 25, 2024)

Ruby Garcia is He was killed the day before.

Ortiz Vito, 25, identified himself as Brian and was visibly upset but would not say anything about what he had done.

The stranger was well dressed, wearing a Carhartt jacket, hat, scarf and gloves, and the pastor said he saw no bloodstains.

“There’s a young man here who wants to talk to you,” the church member said, calling the pastor at home.

Pastor Marcia Tucker responded and spoke with him for 20 minutes in the church library.

Ganges United Methodist Church in Allegan County.
Ganges United Methodist Church in Allegan County.

“He was going through a really tough time. He’d lost his job, he’d been in some fights, he’d been kicked out of his place and he was basically homeless,” he told her.

“He didn’t tell me specifically what was bothering him, but I knew he was very upset. He became very emotional while we were talking and cried so much that I had to give him tissues.”

He told her he had family in Grand Rapids, but they wouldn’t accept him.

“‘I’ve disappointed my parents too many times. They won’t do this,’” she recalled him saying. “And I said, ‘No, I don’t believe that. I think they’re going to take you no matter what you do.’

“I prayed with him and I could tell he had stopped talking, but I didn’t know what the problem was,” Tucker said.

He called the church to ask for a ride, but when no one answered, the church let him sleep in an annex next door.

“I’m thinking, should I call the police, should I call the police? I don’t know. I’ve thought about it, and like I told my people, God didn’t tell me to call the police, He said, ‘Leave it, Marcia,’” she said.

The next morning they found him asleep on the floor of the annex, and he responded to an invitation to a 10 a.m. service.

“It was Palm Sunday, so people were coming by and we were handing out branches,” Tucker said.

They gave one to a customer she knew named Brian who was sitting near the back.

“We treated him as a visitor to the church, just as God would want us to, and that’s what we did,” she said.

Sweatshirt worn by a woman sitting in front of Brandon Ortiz Vito during the Ganges Church service. (Provided)
Sweatshirt worn by a woman sitting in front of Brandon Ortiz Vito during the Ganges Church service. (Provided)

She said the woman sitting in front of her customers was wearing a sweatshirt with a positive message on it.

“You are worth it. God loves you. Someone loves you,” she reminded herself.

“During the sermon, I noticed he wasn’t sitting there,” Tucker said.

A short time later, two men from the church left the chapel.

“I thought, ‘Oh my God, what’s going on?’” Tucker said.

Just before she was about to give the blessing at the end of the service, a church member interrupted to make an announcement.

“He just said, ‘I want everyone to know you can’t leave the church. You have to go down to get a coffee and stay there. When you walk through the door you’ll see a bunch of police cars. The young man that was here has been detained. He had a gun,’” Tucker recalled.

The pastor later learned that the attendee had been emotional throughout the service, called 911 from the bathroom, and turned himself in. The attendee then threw the gun in the front yard.

“He walked out the door, threw the gun over there and started walking towards the annex and that’s when all the police arrived,” she said.

An arrest warrant photo of Brandon Ortiz Vito at the Kent County Jail on March 24, 2024.
An arrest warrant photo of Brandon Ortiz Vito at the Kent County Jail on March 24, 2024.

According to court records, he later confessed to killing 25-year-old Ruby Garcia, who he described as his girlfriend, although her family said the two were dating but were not in a relationship.

“I think God was working with him from the time it happened on Friday night, all through Friday night, all through Saturday, sitting here talking to me, staying here, participating in church services,” the pastor said. “I think God was speaking to him because he knew he had faith. He understood, he understood forgiveness.”

She now resents politicians, including former President Donald Trump, for using her death to garner votes. He spoke about the incident on Tuesday. In Grand Rapids, Trump called illegal immigrants animals.

“He’s not an animal,” the pastor said of Ortiz Vite.

“This is not a political issue,” she said. “It has nothing to do with politics. It’s just two people having an argument and it got worse than it needed to be. That’s what happened. And there’s no point in politicizing this because it’s not going to help the Garcia family or Brian and his family.”

She said she and the church are praying for Ruby’s family and for Brandon Ortiz Vito, who she knows as Brian.

“When I pray for him, I also pray for Brian,” she said. “God knows who I’m talking about.”

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