Providence Shootout Not Related to Theft of State Police Vehicle
PROVIDENCE, RI — A confusing day out of Providence ends with one man dead and a criminal still at large.
Despite reports to the contrary earlier in the day, authorities say a man who stole a state police cruiser and abandoned it in Providence is not the same man driving a white pickup truck who got into a shootout with police on a busy stretch of Interstate 95 less than two hours later.
One man was killed and a woman was injured in the shootout, which took place around 10:45 a.m. Police have not released their identities.
Rhode Island State Police Col. Ann Assumpico says authorities are still searching for 35-year-old Donald Morgan of Providence, who is wanted for stealing a state police cruiser around 9 a.m. Thursday. Assumpico says Morgan was arrested Wednesday on charges of obstruction and possession of a stolen motor vehicle. She says Morgan was handcuffed Thursday morning when a trooper taking him to court in the car stepped out to check on an accident.
Assumpico says the trooper left the handcuffed suspect alone in the vehicle while checking on the accident on Route 146 Thursday morning. She says when troopers come upon an accident on a highway, they have a duty to check on it. She says while still cuffed, Morgan climbed into the front seat and fled the scene in the vehicle.
The cruiser was found within an hour ditched in Providence, but Morgan was nowhere to be found.
Meanwhile, the white truck involved in the shooting came under suspicion after a report across police radio channels requesting officers be on the lookout for a white Ford 150 with something hanging out the back, which led to suspicions that Morgan was hiding in the bed of the truck. A Cranston Police officer attempted to stop the truck after it was seen driving erratically, but after initially pulling over, the truck then fled and committed numerous traffic infractions while attempting to evade police.
That led to a shootout on a busy stretch of I-95 near the Providence Place Mall between police and the man who had been driving the truck. It is now believed Morgan had no connection to the truck or the driver.
"One has nothing to do with the other. There was a theft of a trooper car, and then there was this chase by the police officers and then deadly force was used," Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré told reporters. "We're investigating ... why this individual did not stop, and why police officers had to use deadly force."
Juan Carlos Ardaya was driving on I-95 and happened to be right next to the white truck as police opened fire on the vehicle. He told WBSM News he believes the police shot at the driver because he was attempting to back over them in the truck.
"I can't see in the window, it was a dark window, and the police said 'come out, come out,' but the person didn't come out," Ardaya said. "The police shot two times. The first time, I put my head down and I didn't see anything. I started recording with my cell phone when I heard shots the second time, because the truck was moving again. It was going in reverse, and hard."
State Police and Providence Police were involved in the shooting, and no troopers or officers were injured. The woman who had been riding in the truck was critically injured and transported to Rhode Island Hospital. Her condition is not known at this time. The man's body has been turned over to the state medical examiner.
Several of the officers involved in the shooting were wearing body cameras, and that footage is being examined by authorities.