PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Providence’s Washington Park neighborhood was left rattled Thursday evening after nine people were injured in what could possibly be the largest shooting in the city’s history, according to Providence Police Chief Hugh Clements.
The shooting occurred just before 7 p.m. on Carolina Avenue. Clements said at least three of the victims are in serious, possibly critical, condition at Rhode Island Hospital.
The victims, who have not been identified by name, include eight men and one woman, all between the ages of 19 and 25. No arrests have been made, however, Clements said the shooting was not random and stemmed from a feud between two groups.
“We have a good handle on everyone that is involved in this incident,” he said. “The assailant group pulled up in a car, and the other group was at a home … They’re well known to Providence Police.”
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Clements said only one of the victims was transported by ambulance to Rhode Island Hospital. The others transported themselves.
More than a dozen police cruisers swarmed Rhode Island Hospital soon after the incident, and officers were seen guarding the entrance to the emergency room. Clements said the response was necessary, especially because the victims and suspects “might be one and the same.”
Clements believes this may be the largest shooting in the city’s history, and said this classifies as a mass shooting by federal standards. He also called the situation “very disappointing.”
“We have taken a lot of guns off the streets this year,” Clements said. “We don’t shy away from the fact that we have a gun issue in this city. It’s unfortunate that young men in this community have no regard for life at times.”
Mayor Jorge Elorza said he spoke to several neighbors as officers continued their investigation.
“Everyone is shaken,” he said. “I’ve lived through it as well with shootings outside my house and it’s unnerving. You clutch your family a little bit tighter that night.”
Samantha Neves lives nearby and said the incident has left her and her neighbors terrified.
“I couldn’t even believe it,” Neves said. “I’ve never seen anything like this. I’ve been living here now for close to five years. One of the reasons me and my husband moved here is because it’s a quieter part [of the city].”
Elorza said in response to the incident, Providence Police will be stepping up patrols in the neighborhood.
“They shouldn’t have anything to worry about and we’ll do everything we can to make sure they’re not only safe, but also feel safe,” he said.
Elorza also addressed the ongoing gun violence in the city. Prior to this incident, Clements said there have been 19 gunshot victims and seven shooting deaths this year alone.
“This has to stop,” he said. “The young people involved, believing the way to solve their disputes is with a handgun – that just can’t be the way.”
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Clements estimates those involved fired several dozen rounds from at least five guns. Elorza said this proves their efforts to remove guns from the city’s streets are far from over.
“It’s just too easy to access these guns, and we have to do something about that,” Elorza said.
Elorza urged anyone with information regarding the incident to come forward.