PROVIDENCE — A man from Portland, Maine, was killed and a man from Cambridge was wounded in a double shooting early Sunday in the city’s first homicide of the year.
Biniam Tsegai, 35, died and Merhawi Berhe, 28, was wounded, shortly after they left an after-hours “sip joint” in the Elmwood neighborhood around 3 a.m., said Providence police Major David Lapatin.
Both men had spent time in federal prison. Tsegai, nicknamed “Icy,” had been released in June 2020 and was out on supervised release for his role in a violent crack cocaine trafficking ring that moved the drug from Boston to Maine, according to court records. Berhe had served time for possessing a firearm that was later used by one of the Boston Marathon bombers, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, to murder MIT police Officer Sean Collier.
It’s not clear why the two men from out of state were hanging out together in the basement of a building at 384 Elmwood Ave., in an illegal bar that hadn’t attracted attention from police, Lapatin said.
When the pair left, they ran into four men outside the house. The sudden encounter became deadly almost immediately when one of the other men pulled out a gun and fired. “It started right away,” Lapatin said.
There were no descriptions of the assailants, and no apparent motive. Lapatin said Berhe underwent surgery at Rhode Island Hospital, but Tsegai succumbed to his injuries.
The shooting followed one of the deadliest years in the city in more than a decade.