PROVIDENCE, RI. (WPRI) — “Terrible” is how Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza on Friday described the previous 24 hours in the capital city.
On Thursday, a 19-year-old man was stabbed to death inside the Providence Place mall, another man walked into Rhode Island Hospital with a gunshot wound to the head, and police responded to reports of gunshots in the mayor’s own neighborhood.
“It’s nerve-wracking,” Elorza said. “It literally hits close to home.”
Much of the violence appears to be fueled by an ongoing battle among city gangs, according to Elorza. Police said they’re investigating all three incidents and whether any are gang-related.
Despite the apparent uptick in violence, Elorza insisted that crime in Providence is down compared to 10 years ago.
“There were over 100 shootings a year in the city of Providence,” he said, referring to a decade ago. “Last year, we had 35 shootings.”
But even that is too many, he said, so that’s why Providence is teaming up with Central Falls on an aggressive gun buyback program.
On October 17, anyone can drop off unwanted firearms at designated locations.
The initiative comes after 85 guns reportedly vanished from a Providence home, the owner of which was later charged with illegally selling them.
“Every gun that we take off the street is going to make us all safer. It’s going to make sure that more of our kids can stay alive,” Elorza added.
Elorza also made a plea to the community, saying it’s going to take everyone to stop the violence, and asked anyone with information on the recent violence to speak up and contact Providence police.