PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI/AP) — Top law enforcement officials in Rhode Island addressed a troubling spike in gun deaths in Providence, saying officers are struggling to quell the violence.
Mayor Jorge Elorza says violent crime in the city is down overall, but recent shootings and stabbings have distorted the public’s perception of that.
The Providence City Council called Tuesday’s emergency meeting after a spate of fatal shootings and stabbings, including a deadly double shooting last weekend.
Two men from Massachusetts died Saturday after they were shot near a nightclub off Broad Street. Then on Sunday, three people were wounded in a shooting outside a Manton Avenue home.
The violence continued into Monday when a 42-year-old man was stabbed while walking down Cranston Street. He was transported to Rhode Island Hospital where he’s in stable condition.
That all follows two shootings last weekend, one which killed an innocent bystander and another that sent five people to the hospital, along with two stabbings, and a woman reportedly being pulled out of her vehicle and beaten during a run-in with a group of ATV and dirt bike riders.
Providence Police Chief Hugh Clements acknowledged the city has seen a rise in shootings in recent weeks.
Michael Imondi, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #3, said officers are having a hard time keeping up with the surge in violence, and the city’s ATV problem has made it even more difficult.
“We just can’t do our job the way we swore our oaths to do our job,” Imondi said. “We are not out here trying to hurt people, but these ATVs are creating a very dangerous atmosphere for the public.”
“They are tearing up property, they are riding up the center, they are doing wheelies directly at you … they are surrounding police cars,” he continued. “If they feel they can do this and get away with it, what’s stopping them from doing more?”
A vigil was also held Tuesday night to honor the lives of the victims who have been impacted by the violence.
During the vigil, Elorza said easy access to firearms and a failing education system are primarily what’s contributing to the spike in violence.
“When we talk about picking up a gun and using it in a crime of violence, let’s step back 10 steps and look at what led to that point,” he said.