(PROVIDENCE, R.I.) — At least nine people were wounded in Rhode Island’s capital on Thursday evening in what police believe to be the largest shooting in the city’s history.
Three of the gunshot victims were “very seriously injured, maybe critical,” Providence Police Chief Col. Hugh Clements Jr. told reporters during a press conference at the scene.
The shooting occurred outside a home in Providence’s southeastern neighborhood of Washington Park, which Clements described as a typically quiet, family-friendly area. Police received the initial 911 call at 6:47 p.m. ET, followed by several more calls. When police arrived on scene, they discovered several victims and “evidence of a large amount of gunfire” from “as many as four or five guns,” the police chief said.
Clements estimated that “several dozen” shots were fired.
Only one of the victims was transported to nearby Rhode Island Hospital by ambulance while the rest arrived in private vehicles, according to Clements.
Police believe the shooting began when a vehicle pulled up outside the house and a person or people inside the car opened fire at the residence. An individual or individuals inside the home then returned fire, according to Clements.
“This is not random, it was targeted at that address,” he told reporters.
The people involved in the shooting, whom the police chief described as “young men,” are part of two feuding groups that are “well-known” to local authorities, Clements said.
“[It’s an] ongoing feud that we’re familiar with,” he added. “We’ve gotten several guns from each group of individuals.”
No arrests had been made as of Thursday night, but Clements said the investigation was still in the early stages. Detectives were at the hospital interviewing the victims, who Clements said ranged in age from 19 to 25. The victims and the suspects “may be one and the same,” he said, without providing further details. Additional information about their identities was not released.
“There’ll be names that you may recognize — we certainly know from police work,” he told reporters.
The police chief called the shooting “very disappointing” since he said authorities have worked to get guns off the streets this year, “almost double the amount of last year.” Prior to Thursday’s shooting, Providence had 19 gunshot victims and seven homicide victims by gunfire in 2021, according to Clements.
“We have a gun issue in this city,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that young men in this community have no regard for life at times. They fire the guns willingly at each other and this is the case here.”
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza also lamented the ready availability of guns in the city and called on residents to stop using gun violence to settle disputes.
“That just can’t be the way,” Elorza said during the press conference. “Let the police bring folks to justice. Don’t take matters into your own hands — that just escalates the violence and goes back-and-forth to no end. Nobody wins in that.”
Elorza said police will increase security and patrols in the area over the coming days so that residents feel safe.
“I’ve spoken with a number of the neighbors and everybody is shaken,” he said. “I’ve lived through it as well with shootings outside of my house and it’s unnerving, and you clutch your family like a little bit tighter that night.”
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