By DANIEL KITTREDGE A suspect has been arrested in connection with the city's first, and thus far only, homicide this year. Jose Herpin, 23, of 36 Calhoun Street, Providence, was taken into custody by Providence Police on Oct. 1 following a brief vehicle
A suspect has been arrested in connection with the city’s first, and thus far only, homicide this year.
Jose Herpin, 23, of 36 Calhoun Street, Providence, was taken into custody by Providence Police on Oct. 1 following a brief vehicle and foot pursuit, Col. Michael Winquist said during a Friday press conference at the department’s Garfield Avenue headquarters.
Herpin was arraigned the next day in Third Division District Court on charges of first-degree murder, using a firearm while committing a crime of violence, carrying a dangerous weapon/substance while committing a crime of violence, and carrying a pistol without a license or permit. He was ordered held without bail after being presented as a violator in connection with an existing robbery case in Superior Court.
“We knew that he wasn’t going to go easy. He’s a subject with a long criminal history … Right now things are very, very violent out there, and we’re glad to get this particular individual off the street,” Winquist said, referencing the recent string of shootings in Providence.
He added: “We have met with the family and we told them on day one that we would put all our focus on bringing this person who was responsible for their loved one’s death to justice, and we did it swiftly and we did it without anybody getting hurt beyond that.”
According to police, the circumstances that led to the killing of 24-year-old Providence resident Jamal Vasquez involved a birthday party and a quarrel between two women over a boyfriend.
Vasquez was found in the driveway of 46 Harris Ave., with a gunshot wound to his face, when officers responded to a 911 call just after 4 a.m. on Sept. 8, the chief said. Responders attempted to provide medical treatment before determining Vasquez was dead.
A handgun that was reported stolen out of North Carolina was found next to the victim’s body, Winquist said. Police then determined a birthday party had taken place at a nearby residence with “young men and women from Cranston and Providence” in attendance.
Winquist said the investigation found that Vasquez had driven a female acquaintance to the party to “physically confront a young woman with whom she was having an ongoing feud.” That led to a physical altercation between the two women in which Vasquez attempted to intervene.
The chief said Vasquez was then confronted by several men “who took issue with his involvement,” at which point he produced the handgun. Herpin is alleged to have drawn his own weapon and “intentionally fired one shot,” which struck and killed Vasquez.
“It is undetermined if the victim and suspect knew each other before this incident,” Winquist said, although he added that “both individuals were affiliated with neighborhood street gangs.”
After the shooting, Herpin is said to have then fled the area in a black sedan as the crowd dispersed.
A warrant for Herpin’s arrest was issued Sept. 22, and he was spotted by Providence Police in the area of Atwells Avenue and Valley Street on Oct. 1. Winquist said Herpin attempted to flee – first by vehicle, striking other vehicles in the process, and then by foot – before being taken into custody.
“This individual’s no stranger to the criminal justice system … We were confident that when somebody confronted him he would attempt to run,” the chief said.
Winquist credited police in Providence and East Providence for their assistance in the investigation and the apprehension of the suspect. Both Herpin and the victim, he said, are “well known to the Providence Police Department.”
“That intelligence was extremely helpful. There were a lot of people who were interviewed in this case. Many of them were Providence residents,” he said.
East Providence Police, Winquist said, “were able to develop intelligence for us and help really get the ball rolling and get the case going in the direction that it ended up in.”
Winquist said during the course of the investigation, police found “there was discussions by the rival group that they were going to settle this on the streets.” That, he said, made quickly locating the suspect even more of an imperative.
“This murder is yet another example of the senseless tragedies caused by young men unlawfully carrying firearms to settle conflicts and meaningless disputes,” he said. “As members of law enforcement, we must continue to stem the flow of illegal guns on our streets through proactive policing measures and continue to track and share intelligence on individuals prone to crimes of violence and other illicit activities.”
Winquist and Mayor Allan Fung, who attended the press conference, also pointed to community outreach and engagement efforts by Cranston Police, particularly the work of school resource officers.
“They’re proactively working within our community to build relationships … I want to thank the men and women for what they do to keep our residents safe,” Fung said.
Winquist additionally noted that during his six years in Cranston, the department has made an arrest in every homicide case. Last month’s shooting, he said, was the first murder in the city in 18 months.
“For a city of 80,000-plus residents,” he said, “that’s a pretty good track record as far as I’m concerned.”