PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — In the wake of an hours-long standoff in Providence that ended with a hail of gunfire and one man dead, questions are being raised about the suspect’s access to weapons.
Records show Providence police had visited the two-family home where Scott MacLean lived 16 times since 2015, most recently for a “keep the peace” call last week.
While he had no criminal past, police said MacLean had been treated for mental health issues, though it’s unknown if those would have prevented him from possessing weapons. His children told authorities there were 15 guns inside the house.
Both state and federal laws have safeguards in place meant to keep guns out of the hands of people who could be dangerous. Among those laws is the so-called “red flag” law, which was enacted in Rhode Island in 2018.
R.I. Superior Court data obtained and reviewed by 12 News shows police departments across the state have used the law 111 times between August of 2018 and Jan. 31, 2022.
Police departments can petition the courts to grant them “extreme risk protection orders” or ERPO’s. Those ERPO’s allow police to seize weapons from people who are deemed an imminent danger to themselves or others.
The orders initially last 14 days, but with a hearing process, a judge can extend them for up to one year.
Since the law went into effect, records show Cranston police have used it a total of 42 times, the most of any single jurisdiction. Cumberland has utilized it 12 times, while Johnston has used it nine times and Coventry has six times. Providence has invoked it five times.
12 News asked Providence police if they attempted to use the law in the case of MacLean; a spokeswoman said they would be providing more information on the case next week as the investigation continues.
There remain multiple unanswered questions about the Thursday morning incident on Denison Street, including how MacLean died, what started the fire in his home and how he had access to the guns inside.