PAWTUCKET — Officers with the Pawtucket Police Department fatally shot a 28-year-old man Friday after he assaulted them with a gun, the police chief said.
The man, DeShawn Cole of Pawcatucket, died after he was taken to Rhode Island Hospital. Police Chief Tina Goncalves said three officers have been placed on administrative leave while the shooting is investigated.
Goncalves said officers responded to a report of a man with a gun at about 6:15 a.m. She said that when officers confronted the suspect he assaulted them with the gun, but she did not say if the man fired the gun.
One witness reported hearing six or seven shots, and Cole’s brother, Darvon, told The Providence Journal that a detective told him he had been shot eight times. “If he did get all those shots, I want to know why,” he said.
The Times of Pawtucket reported that a resident of the area, Mary Surkont, was asleep in her when she was startled by a noise.
“It was like a ‘ping-ping,’” Surkont said Friday afternoon. “I thought it was someone hitting an aluminum pipe. But then I heard ‘ping-ping-ping’ again and I thought ‘Oh my god, that sounds like gunshots.’ I thought ‘No, it couldn’t be. Not on this street.’”
Goncalves said that the initial call was for a man with a firearm, as one was allegedly noticed in Cole’s waistband, The Times reported. She said the officers went to the scene, at Newport Avenue and Slade Street, and noticed a man matching the description of the gunman. A confrontation ensued and the result was a “felony assault on an officer” with a firearm located on scene, the police chief said.
At a news conference at City Hall, Goncalves did not say whether all three officers fired shots. While officials said the incident appeared isolated, a “strong police presence” will be maintained in the area, she said. Goncalves declined to name the officers but said they would be identified soon, The Times reported. “We’ve checked in on the officers. Obviously, it’s a tragedy.”
Public Safety Director James Vartanian said the local police are working with the Rhode Island State Police and the Attorney General’s Office on the “officer-involved” shooting.
“I saw my neighbor say there were bullet holes in her door and hall. I saw an EMT give the guy CPR before he was taken away,” Surkont recalled. “It was crazy. My tenant upstairs said she came from the other side (of Pawtucket) and was used to it, but not here.”
The Journal reported that Cole had four previous gun possession charges in Massachusetts, the latest in 2009.
— AP and Sun staff