Police say Providence man being taken to court stole cruiser

Donald Morgan (Police photos)

Rhode Island State Police said a cruiser was stolen by a suspect who was being transported to court by a state trooper Thursday around 9 a.m.

The suspect was later identified as 35-year-old Donald Morgan.

Morgan, who has an extensive record, was arrested Wednesday for obstruction and possession of a stolen vehicle.

Col. Ann Assumpico said the trooper left Morgan alone in the vehicle when he went to check on an accident on Route 146. She said when troopers come upon an accident on a highway, they have a duty to check on it.

But Morgan, still in handcuffs, somehow got into the driver’s seat and drove away. He remains at large.

“We’re looking for him right now,” Assumpico said. “We have troopers and state police officers in the area.”

Assumpico added that Morgan has an extensive record and hopes they locate him immediately.

“We definitely want him. That’s why we’re putting out this information so people can recognize him and let us know as soon as they can,” she said.

The cruiser was found within an hour near a house on Vineyard Street, which is off Potters Avenue. Police in tactical gear scoured the surrounding neighborhood.

People who live in the area told NBC 10 News they are shocked.

“Just a little surprised that someone would steal a car -- a state officer’s car -- and crash and just run away from it,” Frantz Gabriel said.

Gov. Gina Raimondo shared similar sentiments, describing the incident as “concerning.”

“(Authorities are) trying to get to the bottom of it and figure out what happened.”

Meanwhile, Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare said a shootout that occurred on a busy stretch of Interstate 95 through downtown Providence was apparently not directly related to the theft.

Authorities told NBC 10 that police had information that the suspect who stole the cruiser was in a truck that matched the description, adding that the suspect was potentially hiding in the truck's bed.

While Cranston police tried to stop the truck on Farmington Avenue, it took off, which led to the highway scene where Providence and state police opened fire.

According to authorities, the license plate number matched the one on the truck that ended up in Providence. Still, it’s unclear why the driver fled from police.

One person was killed in the shootout, and a woman was critically injured.

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

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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