PROVIDENCE — Four men were charged Monday with multiple felonies for allegedly ambushing rival gang members in a brazen shootout Thursday that injured nine people.
The four suspects were also injured, when at least two of the people they targeted shot back, according to police. The gunfire between the GMF street gang, also known as “Get Money Family,” and the Lakeside gang members on the porch of 87 Carolina Ave. littered the street with 51 shell casings, Special Assistant Attorney General Edward G. Mullaney said in District Court Monday.
“The coordinated gang attack with four firearms escalated into a shootout,” Mullaney said.
This was the biggest mass shooting in Rhode Island, and Chief Hugh T. Clements Jr. said Monday afternoon that police expect to charge more people. So far, he said, there doesn’t appear to be anyone else involved beyond the nine who were injured Thursday.
Ricardo Cosme Tejada, 20, Jordanny Britto, 20, Reynaldo Rivera, 19, and George Rios, 18, were each charged with three counts of felony assault, three counts of conspiracy, using a firearm while committing a crime of violence, using a pistol without a license, and misdemeanor charge of firing in a compact area.
Britto came to District Court Monday morning with his left arm bandaged and in a sling, accompanied by his lawyer John M. Cicilline, who argued that Britto had a construction job and lived with his mother. A judge set $75,000 surety bail.
Rivera, whose left wrist was bandaged, posted $100,000 surety bail through a bondsman.
A judge set $25,000 surety bail for Tejada, who is being held as a violator of his bail from last month, when state police charged him with possession of a “ghost gun” — a firearm made using a 3-D printer and kits — and having a prohibited weapon.
Rios remains in critical condition at Rhode Island Hospital, in police custody, and will be arraigned later, Clements said.
David Carides, 23, who lives at the house where the shooting took place; Isaiah Ortiz, 19, of Central Falls; Lauren Feoa, 22, no permanent address; and Edwin Torres, 24, were also injured in the shooting, police said. William Segbeyan, 21, of Cranston, was hit with shattered glass.
The police were familiar with them: Carides was on bail on felony assault charges in North Providence last year; Ortiz was on bail on charges of carrying a stolen firearm and drug dealing in Providence last month; and Torres was on supervised release after pleading to charges in an armed home invasion in Scituate in 2018, using a stolen AR-15 rifle.
The judge ordered Rivera not to have any contact with Torres.
The shootout terrified neighbors and alarmed residents on this otherwise quiet residential street off busy Allens Avenue in Washington Park. It also previewed a deadly weekend, when a man was found shot to death in a vehicle in Olneyville Friday night, and two more people were shot and wounded in Mount Hope over the weekend.
It also marked a year when police have seized 86 firearms used in crimes — twice as many as usual — including eight seized from the house at 87 Carolina Ave. late Thursday night.
“If we continue at this pace, we will set a record we don’t want to set,” Clements said.
Police started noticing an increase in firearms seized in crimes and shots fired by mid-2020. That was happening as gun sales were skyrocketing across the nation, with buyers driven by fears of the pandemic, civil unrest, and the divisive presidential election.
Last year, Rhode Island more than doubled the number of background checks on people seeking to buy guns. The smallest state ended 2020 with the second-highest percentage increase of background checks in the nation.
Rhode Island’s congressional delegation, Governor Dan McKee, Attorney General Peter Neronha, and Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven M. Pare held a news conference Monday morning at the Nonviolence Institute about legislative action and federal resources to prevent gun violence. They talked about passing gun control legislation, which is languishing at the General Assembly and in Congress, and about putting more resources into community programs, stopping gun trafficking, and increasing enforcement against criminals using guns.
Mayor Jorge O. Elorza later said that a “significant amount” of money the city is receiving from the American Rescue Plan will go toward programs to help prevent violence, such as de-escalation training, mentorships, and summer jobs opportunities.
But there’s a sense that the tide has already turned. There are so many firearms on the streets, said Elorza. And now, the chief said, police are seeing more ghost guns.
Just in this mass shooting, the police have already determined that none of the eight guns seized from the house were legally owned. They are trying to determine how they ended up at Carolina Avenue.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is tracing the guns, and the crime lab at the University of Rhode Island is conducting ballistics tests on the shell casings and firearms, to see if they are connected with other crimes
The police are still looking for the firearms that were used by the four men who provoked the ambush — one of whom was out on bail on a gun charge.
Clements admitted he was frustrated. “There has to be swift, certain consequences. They need to be held accountable,” he said at a news conference Monday afternoon. “It’s hard enough to apprehend someone with a firearm, and once we do, we’re frustrated when these same young men hit the street. ... It’s not only law enforcement’s frustration, it’s certainly the mayor’s, the community, the moms of these victims. It’s frustrating that these young men think they can go out there in brazen style, they are emboldened to carry firearms and shoot indiscriminately.”