Johnston man arrested after standoff, charged with buying booze and assaulting Warwick teens


A pair of underage Warwick girls drove to Johnston for nip bottles and were allegedly assaulted by the man who they told police bought them alcohol.

Around 3:24 a.m., Aug. 13, Johnston Police responded to the Shell Gas Station at 1680 Hartford Ave. to investigate a possible assault that had allegedly occurred on Reservoir Avenue earlier in the evening. One of the alleged victims met police at the gas station and told them that she knew a man who lived on Reservoir Avenue who “could purchase some alcohol for her friend” and they drove from Warwick to meet up with the man at his Johnston home.

The victims arrived at the man’s home and he entered their car and sat in the back seat. They told police that they drove to a store, where the man — who police identified as Joseph J. Starnino, of 107 Reservoir Ave., Johnston — allegedly bought “a package of 99 Root beer nips for the girls,” Johnston Police Patrolman Thomas R. Hayden wrote in the incident report.

The victims told police that Starnino “jokingly” picked a steering wheel cover off the back floor and wrapped it around the front passenger’s neck while he was sitting behind her.

“While he was laughing he began to choke (the victim),” Hayden wrote. “(A victim) stated that the two of them were yelling at him to stop which he eventually did. (They) told him to get out of the car immediately. Once he exited the vehicle she stated that Joseph threatened to kill both of them and blowup her vehicle. (They) then left the area and contacted us approximately 45 minutes later.”

The other victim told police that “when they proceeded to drop him off after the purchase, he would not get out of the vehicle for approximately 20-30 minutes.”

“During this time she advised that he proceeded to choke her with the steering wheel cover,” Hayden wrote. “She stated that it was difficult to breath(e) as he was applying more and more pressure. She stated that he eventually stopped but she felt scared in the vehicle.”

The victims (and a guardian) decided to pursue criminal charges against Starnino. Police photographed the “injuries the steering cover and nip bottles.” Police confiscated the nips package. Starnino was charged with Simple Assault and Purchase/Procurement of Alcohol for Minor.

At 9:45 a.m., Aug. 23, Johnston Police responded to Starnino’s home to locate him and serve the active JPD arrest warrant.

“Upon my arrival, I observed a male party, who is known to me as Joseph Starnino Jr. standing on the front lawn holding a baseball bat,” Johnston Patrolman Arthur Petteruti wrote in a supplemental narrative to the arrest report. “As I entered the driveway and exited my departmental cruiser, I gave Mr. Starnino Jr. several orders to drop the baseball bat. Mr. Starnino Jr. refused to listen to my commands wand would not drop the baseball bat.”

Starnino allegedly dropped the baseball bat and quickly removed a black firearm from “his lower back and pointed at me,” Petteruti wrote.

Petteruti took cover behind the engine block of his cruiser, while aiming his department-issued firearm at Starnino. Petteruti reported the circumstances to dispatch.

“While Mr. Starnino Jr. was aiming a black firearm at me, he was yelling ‘just shoot me,’” Petteruti wrote. Another occupant of the home ran from the house to stand between the officer and Starnino, yelling “it’s not real, it’s not real don’t shoot.”

Starnino eventually dropped the weapon on the ground, but put his hands in his pockets “giving me the impression he had additional weapons,” Petteruti wrote.

“At this time, I removed my departmental Taser and discharged it striking Mr. Starnino Jr. in the upper body. (He) was able to pull both taser probes out of his chest while laughing. I then changed the taser cartridge and discharged it, striking (him) a second time. (He) once again removed the taser probes while laughing.”

Police noted that Starnino was wearing “loose fitted clothing” and “it appeared the probes never penetrated his skin” and he “never showed any signs of being electrocuted by the taser.”

Additional units responded to the scene and helped Petteruti secure Starnino on the ground, cuff him and place him in the rear of a cruiser.

“While on the scene, I located two additional firearms on the front stair, which was later determined to bee BB guns,” Petteruti wrote. “A further check on the firearm that was pointed at me revealed that it was also a BB gun, however had no orange muzzle.”

A witness told police that Starnino “was waiting for our arrival and observed his son place numerous firearms outside the residence and stated he was ready for war,” Petteruti wrote.

Starnino was processed, allowed to make a phone call and secured in a cell pending arraignment.

standoff, assalt


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