PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Unsuspecting people waiting at bus stops, exiting stores and even riding bicycles in Providence are getting splattered with a rainbow of paintballs, according to nearly a dozen recent police reports.
“We’ve had an increase … the last couple weeks,” police Major David Lapatin said. Several arrests have been made, he added, and the culprits tend to be teenagers or young adults.
The recent paintball shootings have come with injuries: a teenager had to have stitches last week after being hit between his eyes, according to police.
The boy was walking from Burger King to the Juanita Sanchez Educational Complex last Thursday when a silver pickup truck drove by, its occupants firing paintball guns, according to a police report. The victim was hit with a green paintball in the face and went to be treated at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.
Multiple police reports obtained by WPRI 12 show a silver pickup truck driving around firing paintballs last week.
Also on Thursday, five hours after the teen was hit with green paintballs, another person called police to say he’d been hit by pink paintballs in the shoulder and back outside an Eddy Street market. The victim said he believed they came from a silver pickup truck.
Around the same time, a female victim told report she was “hit several times with paintballs” while riding a bicycle on Broad Street. She said the passenger in a grey pickup rolled down his window and shot her several times. Her clothes were covered in pink paint and she had a red mark on her leg, according to the report.
About an hour later, another victim went to the police department to report he was shot by pink paintballs while standing by a bus stop on Broad Street. He suffered a “minor laceration and slight swelling,” according to the report, and said the paintballs were fired from a dark SUV or pickup truck.
Police pulled over a silver Dodge pickup with a Maine registration shortly afterwards, seizing three paintball guns, a box of paintballs, a gorilla mask and a clown mask. Police arrested Ramon Silverio, who had an outstanding warrant on an unrelated charge, along with two other suspects whose names are redacted from the police report. It’s unclear if they have been charged.
The arrests did not stop the paintball shootings. On Saturday at 4 a.m., a victim reported being shot by three paintballs in the arm and one in the chest outside a laundromat on Smith Street. The suspects were also seen firing at the 7-Eleven on Smith Street, where police viewed surveillance video of paintballs being shot out of a Honda Pilot.
Officers caught up with two suspects, Devonte Flynn and a juvenile whose name was not released. Flynn, 18, is facing charges of felony assault and obstructing police.
Five people were also arrested on Oct. 15, according to police. Griffin Garcia, 23, Perrion Towns, 19, Kyron Lopes, 21, Alexander Cardelli, 19 and Angel Henriquez, 20, were all charged with firing across a highway and disorderly conduct.
According to a report, police seized three paintball guns, three masks and “several hundred rounds of paintballs” in the course of the arrests.
The most recent reported paintball shooting was on Douglas Avenue on Sunday, when someone called police to report paintballs breaking the window of a restaurant.
“We’ve been looking into a few reasons why” there’s been an uptick, Lapatin said, without going into detail. He said detectives are looking into whether there are more paintballs and guns for sale locally.