Pare: Fatal Providence shooting not connected to stolen police cruiser; Suspect at large

Providence police shot two people, one fatally, in a pickup truck on the ramp from Memorial Boulevard to Interstate 95 north, Thursday, Nov. 9. 2017. (Courtesy Steve McLaughlin)

Authorities said Thursday that a shooting in Providence that left one man dead and a woman critically wounded was not connected to the earlier theft of a Rhode Island State Police cruiser on Route 146.

“The individual that was shot and killed by police officers is not the person that stole the trooper car,” Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare, who also added that the shooting, however, was not a mistake, as the driver was driving aggressively.

Police said both people who were wounded were in a pickup truck that was being chased, but was eventually stopped at the end of the Memorial Boulevard on-ramp to Interstate 95 at about 10:45 a.m.

While the truck was riddled with bullets, no police officers were injured. A source told NBC 10 News that a gun was not found in the truck.

Pare said authorities have not positively identified the man who was killed. The woman was taken to Rhode Island Hospital, where she underwent surgery. Her condition was not immediately available.

Commuters who were stuck in the mid-morning traffic, including Charles Laurie and Susan Lusignan, described the shootings.

"(It) almost sounded like fireworks at first,” Lusignan said. “You just hear the ‘pop, pop, pop.’"

They quickly realized shots were being fired and pulled safely to the side of Promenade Street, which is behind Providence Place mall, where Laurie witnessed the confrontation on the road above.

“(Police) were firing at that white pickup truck up there,” Laurie said, pointing, as well as noting that “it was a pretty large volley of shots."

Fear quickly set in.

"I thought we were going to get shot,” Lusignan said, adding that the ordeal was “nerve-wracking.”

Providence police said officers used deadly force because the driver was causing a public safety threat, even though he wasn't the original suspect. Authorities noted that they truck was ramming other vehicles, as well as revving the tires, causing a large plume of smoke.

“We are investigating why this person did not stop and why police had to use deadly force,” Pare said.

Juan Carlos Ardaya, who took a video at the scene, told NBC 10 through a translator that the truck rammed other cars before he started recording. He added that his footage shows the second time police fired.

Meanwhile, authorities said a man named Donald Morgan stole the cruiser while a trooper was transporting the handcuffed suspect as the trooper was stopped at an accident scene in Providence. Morgan somehow got into the driver's seat of cruiser and took off.

The cruiser was later found abandoned on Vineyard Street in South Providence.

Pare told NBC 10 that police had information that the suspect in the cruiser later fled in a white pickup truck. While Cranston police tried to stop the truck, it left the scene, which led to the shooting.

However, police later learned that the people in the truck were not related to the stolen cruiser.

Police immediately began looking throughout the neighborhood and were seen searching house-to-house with rifles and dogs.

Traffic on I-95 was slowly moving by the scene, while access to four Providence school was restricted for a short time.

As they hunt for Morgan, authorities are also reviewing their body cameras. They also said they expect to identify the people who were shot by Friday.

Col. Ann Assumpico of the Rhode Island State Police said the incidents remain under investigation. She also asked anyone who has information about Morgan’s whereabouts to contact police at 401-444-1000.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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