Firefighters and other first-responders from around Rhode Island came out to Warren and Bristol on Wednesday to pay their respects to Brian Remy, a longtime volunteer firefighter who was shot and killed in Warren last week.
Dozens of engines, ladder trucks and rescues started lining up at the Highland Charter School on Market Street even as Remy’s wake down the street was still going on. Then just after 8:30 p.m., they left for a route that would take them around Warren, where Remy was born and raised, and neighboring Bristol.
Remy was at the Italo-American Club in Warren when, police say, the president of the club shot and killed him. Michael Ouellette, 37, also shot and injured 41-year-old Jason Furtado before fleeing. Ouellette opened fire on Bristol police, who returned fire, according to Bristol police. Oullette was later found dead. A video posted online shows a man shooting himself.
Few official details about the shooting have been released, including the name of the Bristol officer who opened fire on Ouellette — the Bristol police said they’re deferring all questions to the state authorities who are investigating the police shooting — and what led up to the fatal shooting at the Italo-American Club.
Remy, 66, was a longtime assistant chief in the Warren Fire Department, which is made up of volunteers. At the Smith funeral home off Market Street, his fellow Warren firefighters lingered around the trucks waiting in the parking lot, but seemed to gravitate toward one in particular: Massasoit Hook and Ladder. That’s the company Remy, like his father before him, had been involved with.
Remy remained active in volunteer firefighting, often attending clambakes and clam boils. He also owned a plumbing company and sold a type of hot dog called the “RemDog,” known locally as a bucky. Friends recalled him as someone who always had a guy, a guy to fix something or a guy to do something for you. Often he was that guy.
He was that guy when a few fire officials needed a ride out to Block Island for a meeting a few years ago. They decided to take his boat, dubbed the “Royal Flush” in homage to his plumbing job. Of course about halfway out there the boat broke down, so they had to head back to the mainland and catch the ferry out to the island, Fire Chief James Sousa recalled with a laugh.
Volunteer firefighting is a dying breed. These days, Warren firefighters have about 400 people on their list, but during a major incident, about 100 people would show up.
“He took care of people,” said Deputy Fire Chief Norman Blank, standing in the parking lot of the funeral home with the tie of his dress uniform untucked. “Anyone who needed anything, anyone who couldn’t afford food, he’d get it for them. There were fundraisers for everyone. It’s going to be a huge loss to the town.”