Man injured during police shootout has troubled past

Kenneth Cunningham (Photo courtesy of California Department of Corrections)

Tim McGivener is used to hearing loud banging at his shop Twin Shellfish in Warwick, but the sound of shellfish is distinctively different than gun shots, which is what he heard Monday.

"A man with a red shirt in his hand climbed up a hill and he had a gun in his other hand. He got to the top of the hill and police yelled at him. He yelled back and they started shooting," he said.

Police said the suspect was 39-year-old Kenneth Cunningham.

A Warwick officer ran the plates on a suspicious pickup truck near Oakland Beach and discovered Cunningham was the owner and he was wanted in California for violating his parole in a murder case.

A police chase ensued. Officials say Cunningham later abandoned the truck and fled on foot before opening fire at police, who shot him at least three times. Three officers involved in the shooting were placed on leave pending investigations.

Commander Michael Babula of the Warwick Police Department said officers showed restraint.

"He was given multiple opportunities to drop the weapon and surrender and they still did not fire on him until he actually fired at them," he said.

Rhode Island State Police are investigating the shooting, and authorities wouldn't release the number of times or where he was shot. However, Babula did say a Sig Sauer handgun was recovered at the scene.

Cunningham was listed in critical but stable condition at Rhode Island Hospital.

Babula said Cunningham hasn't been arraigned because of his injuries. He's facing at least three charges related to the incident including assault with a deadly weapon.

NBC 10 learned that Cunningham opened an account on an online pen-pal website.

The PenPals Behind Bars account is six years old and uses the same number printed on a photo of a mugshot NBC 10 received from the California Department of Corrections.

The writer says he's an "all around bad boy" and that he's "tired of prison."

The account holder wrote he was incarcerated in 2000.