PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — An hours-long standoff and hostage situation in Providence ended Tuesday morning with the arrest of three men.
Police Chief Col. Hugh Clements said the armed suspects held a mother, father and 8-year-old child against their will inside a second-floor apartment at 22 Norwich Ave.
“Very tense, very dangeorus situation,” he told reporters after it was all over. “We haven’t seen one like this in years.”
The alleged home invasion happened around 1:15 a.m., and Clements said a 22-year-old resident of the apartment was able to jump out a window and call police.
Neighbors in the other two apartments in the triple-decker, along with next-door neighbors, said police woke them up and evacuated them from their homes. Some neighbors said they waited on a RIPTA bus parked down the street until the standoff was over.
“The police woke us up at one in the morning,” said Renner Sanchez, speaking to reporters in Spanish. Sanchez lives in the apartment above the one where the home invasion took place. “They took us out, they said for our safety. There were rumors of hostages.”
Providence Police Col. Hugh Clements said police negotiators talked to the suspects, convincing them to release the hostages one by one. Around 5:30 a.m., the mother was released, with the 8-year-old boy released a couple hours later.
Just before 9 a.m., the father was released and police were seen taking three people out of the home in handcuffs.
Police said the victims were unhurt but were taken to the hospital as a precaution.
Sanchez described the family as “very good people.” He said he was worried for the safety of his own family, which includes two young daughters and a teenage niece.
Neighbor Melvin James expressed similar concern, telling Eyewitness News he’s lived in South Providence for 61 years but wants it to be a safer place to live.
“It’s very terrifying, it’s terrifying to the neighbors and the neighborhood itself with drug activity in the neighborhood,” James said. “There’s too much going on and it needs to be cleaned up.”
Clements said drugs are a typical motivator for home invasions, though police are still investigating whether that was true in this case.
“If that is the case, if they were looking for drugs, I would anticipate they probably had the wrong house,” Clements said.
The names of the three suspects and their charges have not yet been released. Clements said the three men are from Providence and are known to police.
The suspects are expected in court Wednesday.