EAST GREENWICH, R.I. (WPRI) ─ A West Greenwich police officer is being praised after a photo of him comforting a child following a road rage incident began circulating on social media.
The incident occurred on New London Turnpike Sunday evening near where East Greenwich, West Greenwich and Coventry all converge.
Police said a minor accident turned violent when a man inside one of the cars got out and smashed the rear window of the other vehicle involved with a hatchet.
A woman and her two small children were inside the damaged vehicle, according to West Greenwich Police Chief Richard Ramsay, and one of them was extremely shaken up by the ordeal.
That’s when Ramsay said Officer Michael Dugan’s fatherly instincts kicked in.
“He was crying uncontrollably saying, ‘they were going to kill me, they said they were going to get a gun,’ and Officer Dugan just held him and told him he was safe,” Ramsay said.
The moment was captured in a photograph taken by Shay Mulcahey, who witnessed the aftermath of the ordeal.
“It really warmed my heart to see that he was consoling the child,” Mulcahey said. “Since I posted the picture, a lot of people have had such great things to say about [Dugan].”
Dugan has more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement, according to Ramsay.
Ramsay said Dugan stood there and hugged the 8-year-old boy for nearly 20 minutes.
“No one was physically injured, but there is going to be some emotional scarring from that incident,” Ramsay said.
The two men in the other car, later identified as Matthew Toneatti, 31, and Cody Toneatti, 29, were arrested on disorderly conduct charges. Cody was additionally charged with causing malicious damage to the woman’s vehicle.
Both men have since been released and are due in court July 12.