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December 16, 2018

Solar energy advocate once praised by actor busted for attempted murder

November 25, 2018
Krystal Ruiz is arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on Nov. 15. Ruiz was charged with attempted murder for an incident on Nov. 10. (Alec Tabak / for New York Daily News)

A pair of starkly different videos bookend the sad, strange tale of Krystal Ruiz.

In a 2015 clip, the one-time angel dust user is hugged by Oscar-nominated actor Mark Ruffalo as a champion of the green energy movement. And in a Nov. 10 security tape, prosecutors allege, the 25-year-old Lower East Sider fires a gun before stabbing a man in the arm during a tussle near a public housing development.




Ruiz was charged with attempted murder, attempted assault, assault and weapons possession after the two-fisted attack. Though her lawyer insists the arrest is a case of mistaken identity, she remains held on $150,000 bail at Rikers Island.

Authorities say Ruiz, 25, was riding a bike through the Vladeck Houses on the Lower East Side when she stopped suddenly around 7:30 p.m.

“The cameras show the defendant jump off … and remove an object from a backpack she is wearing, and then approach the victim with her hand out and a gun in her hand pointed at the victim,” according to a criminal complaint. “Video shows the muzzle flash and a puff of smoke from the gun.”

After pulling the trigger, the solar energy activist then “switches the gun to her left hand and puts another object in her right hand,” court papers say. Ruiz proceeded to swipe “repeatedly at the victim” with the object, stabbing a 35-year-old man in the left arm, officials charged.

Three years ago, Ruiz was joined by “Spotlight” star Ruffalo at an East Village summer event where she recounted her past as a drug user before reinventing herself.

“Before I changed my life, I was right here. I was actually smoking right here — dust, angel dust,” she told a neighborhood crowd while standing alongside Ruffalo. “Lost my mind. And now look at me. Standing tall. Standing better than ever because I chose to change my life. Because I chose to go do the right thing.”

She added that the group she worked with gave “the chance for people who can’t afford it the access to solar” before a beaming Ruffalo wrapped her in a bear hug.

“Thank you, baby. You’re the best,” he said.

Ruiz was even featured on a promotional poster touting the “100%” campaign launched by The Solutions Project, Ruffalo’s clean energy organization. Her LinkedIn page indicates Ruiz spent the last two-plus years working at GRID Alternatives, a nonprofit solar energy operation serving low-income communities.

Krystal Ruiz, 25, who has been publicly touted as a champion of the green energy movement by actor Mark Ruffalo was charged with attempted murder for a recent stabbing after she allegedly fired gun.
Krystal Ruiz, 25, who has been publicly touted as a champion of the green energy movement by actor Mark Ruffalo was charged with attempted murder for a recent stabbing after she allegedly fired gun. (YouTube / 100isNow)

The actor crowed about Ruiz in a July 2015 Huffington Post piece as an example of how the solar movement can changes lives.

“Clean energy can power something greater for all of us,” wrote the famous “Avengers” leading man and activist.

“It certainly did for Krystal Ruiz, a young boxer from New York’s Lower East Side. Working with an organization called GRID Alternatives, a major force in the President’s program, she turned away from a life of drugs and trouble to become a leader in bringing solar power to her community.”

He added that she was she was “training others to work in the renewable-energy business.”

Ruiz’s lawyer, Michael Fineman, said a man who identified himself as the stabbing victim came to court on the day of Ruiz’s arraignment and told a Legal Aid staff attorney that police arrested the wrong person.




“We believe it’s a case of mistaken identity,” Fineman told the Daily News.

Another woman, Carolina Villanueva, 33, was charged with weapons possession in connection to the incident.

GRID Alternatives and The Solutions Project did not respond to requests for comment.

With Alec Tabak and Rocco Parascandola

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