PROVIDENCE — A young Providence man was killed and four men were taken into custody after a deadly melee inside Providence Place mall on Thursday.
Police Chief Hugh T. Clements Jr. said that a 19-year-old man was fatally stabbed in a fight that broke out near the food court around 11:30 a.m.
He said the fight involved young men who know each other from previous incidents – and who were also familiar to the police. “They know these young men who are prone to commit violence,” Clements said.
What started the fight is still unknown. The chief said there was some “verbal dispute” when they ran into each other at the food court. That sparked the fight that led to the stabbing, he said.
“Like most of the violence we have, we say this all the time, people on both sides of the weapon know each other," Clements said. "It stems from earlier disputes, we’re sure.”
A woman working in a shop nearby heard a man yell for help for his friend. Another woman in a shop next to the food court said she saw a group of teens run by, and then two customers came in and told her some had been stabbed. She quickly locked up the store.
The men ran “a full-fledged sprint” through the mall, scattering to get away, Clements said, but officers who rushed to the scene gave chase and caught four of them. The men are considered “persons of interest,” and the chief said he was confident that one of them was the assailant.
This is the city’s 11th homicide of 2020 – and the first one at the mall. “It’s a terrible, tragic incident,” Clements said.
Violent crime has been fairly rare at the mall, which was built in the heart of downtown in 1999. The first shooting inside the mall was in January 2018, when a young man was wounded during a fight between rival groups. Stores were looted during a violent protest outside the mall on June 1.
Thursday afternoon, police and mall security shut down the third floor, where shops, the food court, and the cinemas are located, as detectives examined the crime scene.
On the lower floors and at the outdoor restaurants, business went on as usual. People continued shopping and visiting restaurants, as security moved yellow barricades across the escalators to the third floor and locked the third-floor doors to the parking garage.