Police charge 4 suspects in Providence gun battle; more arrests anticipated


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Four of the nine people hurt when rival groups opened fire on each other in a Providence neighborhood last week are now facing charges, and police say more arrests are likely forthcoming.

Jordanny Britto, 20, Ricardo Cosme Tejada, 20, and Reynaldo Rivera, 19, were arraigned Monday morning, while George Rios, 18, remains in critical condition at the hospital, according to Providence Police Chief Hugh Clements.

In court, Special Assistant Attorney General Edward Mullaney called the shooting a “coordinated gang attack.”

Police allege the four men pulled up in front of a Carolina Avenue home Thursday night, got out of the vehicle and started shooting at several people gathered on the front porch. The group on the porch then returned fire.

Clements suggested the ambush may have stemmed from an ongoing dispute, another recent shooting, or even comments made on social media.

“It is typically the case with these groups and gangs that target each other. They try to sneak up and catch the others, in their terms, ‘slipping,’ where they’re not paying attention to what may come,” he said. “But as we saw here, that other group had firearms readily accessible.”

Eight people were shot in all, according to police, while a ninth person was injured by broken glass. Clements said the remaining four victims are all in their early twenties and everyone is expected to recover.

According to the chief, investigators have accounted for everyone involved and he anticipates more arrests will be made.

“There will be more charges, we’re confident, and we’ll announce those as we’re formally ready to,” he said.

Clements said police have a history with the address where the shooting took place and some of the suspects involved. In 2017, they executed a search warrant at the home and seized five rifles and five semiautomatic pistols.

On Thursday, police recovered eight more guns, which Clements said were also illegal and “just as potent and powerful.”

“There lies our daunting challenge: there are so many firearms out there, and powerful ones,” he said. “The firepower that we’re encountering out there is staggering.”

Over the weekend, Clements said another known member of one of the groups involved was arrested in Olneyville and police seized two more illegal firearms.

Clements stressed that getting these illegal guns off the streets is the most important thing, noting how his officers have already seized 86 so far this year — which is more than double their total from this time last year.

“At this pace, we will set a record that we don’t want to set,” Clements added.

“The number of guns that are being seized, and the kinds of guns that are being seized, it’s just scary,” said Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza.

Elorza said a “significant amount” of the money the city receives from the American Rescue Plan will go toward resources to help address gun violence through mentorship programs, summer jobs for teenagers, and nonviolence and de-escalation training, all of which have been requested by members of the community.

“This is not a community that has thrown in the towel and said, ‘things are too far gone.’ In fact, it’s the opposite,” Elorza added. “It’s a community that continues to say, ‘this is not us and we’re not going to allow it,’ and they want to be part of the solution.”

All four suspects arrested in Thursday’s shooting were charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, discharging a firearm while committing a crime of violence, firing in a compact area, possession of a firearm without a license, conspiracy to carry a firearm without a license, and three counts of conspiracy to commit assault with a deadly weapon.

Clements said Rivera posted bail following his arraignment, while Britto and Cosme Tejada were taken to the ACI. At the time of his arrest, Cosme Tejada was out on bail for a ghost gun charge from R.I. State Police, according to the chief, so he was held as a violator.

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