PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Two groups of young men exchanged gunfire Thursday evening in a shooting that injured as many as nine people in Rhode Island’s capital, authorities said.
Three people appeared to be very seriously injured in the crossfire, which might have involved four or five guns, said Providence Police Chief, Col. Hugh T. Clements Jr.
“These are groups that we are familiar with,” said Clements. “This is not random. It was targeted at that address.”
The shooting took place just before 7 p.m. in the southeastern neighborhood of Washington Park, which Clements described as a typically quiet neighborhood.
The preliminary investigation showed that people had been shot at from an “assailant vehicle,” and gunfire was returned from the home, Clements said.
An estimated several dozen shots were fired. No other shooting in the city’s history has injured as many people, he said.
Providence has seen a rash of shootings in recent weeks. Prior to Thursday, 19 people had been shot in the city in 2021 and seven people had been killed by gunfire in homicides, Clements said.
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“It’s unfortunate that young men in this community have no regard for life at times,” Clements said. “They fire the guns willingly at each other, which is the case here. So very disappointing.”
Evidence markers showing where more than a dozen shell casings littered the ground could be seen in the distance. Police sealed off the area.
No arrests have been made. Clements stressed the investigation was in its early stages. Detectives were at the hospitals interviewing the victims, who are between the ages of 19 and 25.
Only one of the injured was taken to Rhode Island Hospital by ambulance with the others arriving in private vehicles, Clements said.
Providence Police Maj. David Lapatin later said that eight men and one woman had been shot.
There was a heavy police presence outside Rhode Island Hospital following the shooting, and later in the night police confirmed that the facility was locked down.
Lisa Pina-Warren, director of victim services and street outreach for the Nonviolence Institute, said eight victims were in the hospital, two in the operating room. She said the others are stable with “multiple different wounds – arms, legs, one in the chest.”
“We are just supporting the families and the victims,” she said. “We’re going in, gathering information, just making sure everyone’s OK, bringing information back out to the family because only one family member at a time can go in. So we’re just making sure all family members know the status of their loved one and making sure that the victims feel supported as well.”
On Carolina Avenue, Mayor Jorge O. Elorza had talked to residents who witnessed the shooting.
“Everybody is shaken,” he said.
“They tell me about their experience,” he said. “I’ve lived through it myself with shootings outside my house. It’s unnerving. You clutch your family a little tighter that night.”
Elorza urged victims to work with the police to bring perpetrators to justice.
In the past, the two particular groups involved in Thursday’s shooting have not cooperated with police, Clements said, adding, “we’ll see tonight.”
“This has to stop,” Elorza said. “The young people involved believing that the way to solve their disputes is with a handgun. That can’t be the way.”
Follow Mark Reynolds on Twitter: @mrkrynlds
Contributing: Amy Russo, Providence Journal; The Associated Press