Two men arrested in killing of 12-year-old

Aynis Vargas

Providence police arrested two men Wednesday in a shooting that killed a 12-year-old girl and injured three women.

Twenty-one-year-old Branden Castro and 20-year-old Ricardo Vasquez, both of Providence, appeared in court to face murder, conspiracy and other charges in the killing of 12-year-old Aynis Vargas a month ago.{} They were ordered held without bail.

A woman was led from the courtroom when she cried out, "It wasn't him," apparently referring to Vasquez.

Aynis was gunned down at a graduation party on Hartford Avenue on June 15. She was standing outside a home with a group of women when someone came up and started shooting.

"Anyone who randomly shoots into a group of people is a coward and now they will feel the full brunt of the justice system," Police Chief Hugh Clements said.

At a news conference, Clements, Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, and state Attorney General Peter Kilmartin praised the work of the police department in catching the suspects.

"The senseless death of Aynis Vargas is something that has struck at the core of our humanity and 12-year-olds are not supposed to die. They're not supposed to die in Providence. They're not supposed to die in Rhode Island, nor anywhere in the world," Taveras said.

Officials said that the shooting is the result of a feud between two neighborhoods, the Hartford Avenue neighborhood and the Harriet Street neighborhood, where the two suspects are from.

Police said the girl and the three women weren't specifically targeted and that the target was the neighborhood in general.

"When somebody innocently dies, particularly one of our children, it touches everyone including the men and women in Providence police and in our fire services," Pare said.

The victim's father thanked police for their efforts.