Johnston Police exchange gunfire with shooting suspects in Providence

CHIEF VIEIRA: ‘A reminder of the inherent dangers police officers can face in protecting their communities’


Early Monday morning, Johnston Police spotted a vehicle wanted in connection to a Providence shooting. According to Johnston Police Chief Mark A. Vieira, they chased the vehicle; the occupants eventually fled the car on foot but fired at pursuing police.

And Johnston police returned fire. No police were injured and the fate of the suspects remained unknown Wednesday morning. Since police fired on the suspect, a “multi-agency investigation” will follow.

Shortly before noon Monday, Nov. 27, Vieira circulated a press release titled “Johnston Police Officer-Involved Shooting.” According to the release, around 1:50 a.m., “there was a Johnston Police officer-involved shooting in the area of Maynard Street and Unit Street in the City of Providence.”

The shooting followed reports from another neighboring town to Be On the Lookout (BOLO) for a wanted vehicle.

“Prior to the incident, the North Providence Police Department disseminated a BOLO for a silver GMC Savana connected to a shooting that reportedly occurred in the City of Providence,” according to police. “Within minutes of the BOLO being disseminated, a Johnston Police Officer observed the suspect vehicle traveling on Newman Avenue in Johnston and initiated a motor vehicle pursuit.”

The chase continued into Providence, from Manton Avenue to Chalkstone Avenue, and ultimately ended in the vicinity of Maynard and Unit streets “where the suspect vehicle stopped and both occupants fled from the vehicle on foot,” according to police.

That’s when gunshots rang out.

“The officer engaged in a foot pursuit of the suspects at which time one of the suspects discharged multiple rounds of gunfire at the officer and the officer returned fire,” according to the press release. “The suspects evaded capture and law enforcement is actively investigating to identify the suspects. At this time, it has not been verified if the shooter was struck by the officer’s gunfire. The officer was not hit by the suspect’s gunfire and was not injured.”

To conclude the press release, Johnston Police said they’ll be investigating the incident “in accordance with the Rhode Island Attorney General’s protocol for a review and joint investigation by members of the (AG’s) Office, the Rhode Island State Police, and the Johnston Police Department.”

Late Tuesday afternoon, Vieira said there was little more he could say about the exchange of gunfire between his officers and a pair of suspects in the neighboring Capital city.

“At this time, there is no updated information or details available to disseminate regarding the officer-involved shooting,” Vieira responded via email to requests for information beyond the press release. “The incident remains an active and ongoing multi-agency investigation.”

At press-time, a request for comment from Attorney General Peter F. Neronha’s Office was still pending.

“Thankfully, the officer and innocent bystanders were not injured during the incident,” Vieira said Tuesday. “This incident serves as a reminder of the inherent dangers police officers can face in protecting their communities.”

Johnston Mayor Joseph M. Polisena Jr. replied to a request for comment Wednesday morning.

“I’m not going to comment on the case specifically due to the Attorney General’s policies, but I will say I am thankful the officer and public were unharmed,” Polisena wrote. “I think this highlights the fact that we need to not only support our police, but support technology that makes their jobs safer and strengthens safety in the community.”

The mayor touted additions to the department, made since he took office in January.

“Chief Vieira and I have hired nine officers in less than a year and raised the salary of our officers so they’re no longer some of the lowest paid in the state,” Polisena explained. “We will continue hiring good quality candidates, but we will also invest in tech through grant applications and using the opioid settlement funds.”

Brian Hodge, spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, would say only that the investigation is “ongoing.”


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