UPDATED: Police shot and killed a man wanted for a triple shooting on Ligian Court in Johnston.
Early Wednesday morning, Johnston Police secured the crime scene, just off Simmonsville Avenue. The suspect was still at-large early this morning and neighboring departments were put on high alert.
Johnston Police Chief Mark A. Vieira and Cranston Police Chief Col. Michael J. Winquist spoke at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Although a multi-jurisdictional investigation is ongoing, both chiefs were able to provide some information on the initial homicides and subsequent pursuit and police shooting.
“Around 7:30 this morning, officers responded to 4 Ligian Court in Johnston after we received two 911 calls of shots fired in the area,” Vieira told reporters. “Upon arrival, officers located three shooting victims, two of which were deceased. And one was a 15-year-old juvenile female who sustained non-life threatening injuries. The suspect was no longer on scene.”
Police issued a BOLO (Be On the Lookout) alert to watch for the suspect, who was possibly driving a dark blue Buick.
Winquist identified the now dead suspect as James Harrison, 52, of 4 Ligian Court, Johnston.
“To my knowledge he did not have a criminal record in Rhode Island,” Vieira said of Harrison.
The Johnston chief also confirmed that police located one dead adult inside the suspect’s residence at 4 Ligian Court and a second adult victim was found next door at 2 Ligian Court.
Reports from the scene indicate the suspect lived across the street from two of his victims. Several sources, who wished to remain anonymous, confirmed one of the murdered victims is a local baseball coach.
Sources also confirm Johnston Police responded to Ligian Court late Tuesday night, possibly to investigate a reported “Peeping Tom.”
Vieira said that information is “part of the ongoing investigation.”
“I’m not going to comment on that right now,” Vieira said. He confirmed the residents living at 2 Ligian Court had called the police Tuesday night.
At 9:28 a.m. Wednesday morning, Cranston Police received an alert from Johnston Police that there was a homicide in town, according to Winquist. They were given a vehicle and suspect description.
According to Winquist, an off-duty dispatcher spotted suspect and his vehicle at St. Ann Cemetery, seated in his vehicle.
“Multiple Cranston police officers responded to the cemetery,” Winquist said. “When they arrived, the suspect drove at these police officers head-on, nearly striking them.”
A pursuit followed, involving “multiple Cranston Police officers … as well as some officers from the Providence Police Department Task Force,” Winquist said.
The pursuit bled into multiple towns, including Cranston, Providence and Johnston.
“As he drove on Plainfield Pike, he swerved at multiple police cars, striking a police vehicle,” Winquist told police. “At some point, he was traveling the wrong way down Plainfield Pike.”
At some point, the suspect “lost control of the vehicle and struck a rock,” Winquist said.
“Multiple Cranston Police Officers and a Providence Police Officer Detective, approached, formed a perimeter and ordered the suspect out of the vehicle,” Winquist told the media. “This lasted a matter of minutes … The suspect eventually did exit the vehicle, brandishing a firearm, a handgun, which he pointed at the officers. At that point the officers fired, killing the suspect.”
The Rhode Island Attorney General’s office will now lead the investigation into the apprehension and suspect shooting by police.
“As with any police-involved shooting, the Attorney General’s protocol is invoked, and that’s what’s going on now,” Winquist said, confirming that a “multi-jurisdictional investigation is underway and ongoing.”
The entire police shooting incident was captured on uniform-worn police body camera. Winquist said a bystander on the scene also took video of the police shooting.
“Most fortunately, not a single officer was injured,” Winquist said, adding that several officers were sent to hospital for observation.
Police said they could not confirm how many shots were fired at the suspect by police.
Witnesses working along Plainfield Pike reported hearing “more than 50 gunshots” after police shot and apprehended the suspect along Plainfield Pike, which is the border between Johnston and Cranston.
Dan Chiovitti was watching the massive police presence gathered along Plainfield Pike, from a parking lot at the intersection with Simmonsville Avenue.
“I saw the smoke,” he said. “And then I heard a lot of gun shots — at least 50.”
“Multiple shots were fired, we don’t have a number,” Winquist said. “That’s part of the investigation.”
Winquist said that both Cranston and Providence police officers “fired shots at the suspect.”
Around 9:38 a.m. Wednesday, Johnston Police cruisers at the crime scene took off at a high rate of speed and converged with other departments and state police under the overpass on Plainfield Pike.
While the suspect was on-the-loose, Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena Jr. said he was instructing Johnston Police to send extra law enforcement to local schools until the situation was resolved.
Witnesses spotted the police chase on Atwood Avenue, which ultimately moved in the direction of Plainfield Pike. The police and the suspect met under the Route 295 overpass on Plainfield Pike, when shots rang out.
The Cranston Police Department Crime Scene Investigations van arrived on the scene around 10:30 a.m.
After police neutralized the suspect, Polisena posted the following Tweet: "I was informed this morning of a triple shooting in Johnston. I can now confirm the suspect has been apprehended and the danger to the public is over."
This story will be updated as more details are released.
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