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RI CRIME

Two dead in Johnston, R.I., shooting; suspect killed by police

Rhode Island investigators placing an evidence marker next to the car driven by the alleged suspect, James Harrison, who was fatally shot Wednesday by police at the Cranston/Johnson border after a chase from his residence on Ligian Court in Johnston, R.I.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

The latest on the Johnston shooting: James Harrison allegedly shot and killed his mother and neighbor and injured his neighbor’s daughter, before he was fatally shot by police. Authorities tried to issue him a trespass notice before the shooting.

JOHNSTON, R.I. — A man fatally shot two adults, and injured a teenage girl Wednesday before fleeing and ultimately being shot dead by police during a standoff at an Interstate 295 interchange, authorities said.

Police pursued the suspect, James Harrison, 52, of 4 Ligian Court, and fatally shot him during a standoff at Plainfield Pike and Interstate 295, on the Cranston line.

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Around 7:30 a.m., Johnston police responded to the Ligian Court area after the department received two 911 calls reporting shots fired, Police Chief Mark Vieira said in a briefing to the media.

Rhode Island investigators removing evidence from the homes at 2 and 4 Ligian Court in Johnston, R.I. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Police found three shooting victims, Vieira said: One adult was deceased, a resident of 2 Ligian Court. Another adult was found deceased, a resident of 4 Ligian Court, which is also Harrison’s residence, Vieira said. The third victim, a 15-year-old girl, sustained non-life-threatening injuries. She is a resident of 2 Ligian Court, Vieira said.

“The suspect in this case was a neighbor of one of the shooting victims next door,” Vieira said. Police were called to Ligian Court at midnight for a dispute between Harrison and his neighbors. However, the nature of the incident has not been released by authorities.

An investigation is underway involving all departments that responded, as well as the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office, and the Rhode Island State Police, said Colonel Michael Winquist, who is the Cranston police chief.

Goldstein said the Attorney General’s review protocol has been invoked in this case because of the shooting by police.

“We are leading and involved in this investigation together with the state police with cooperation with the Providence police, Cranston police, and Johnston police. The investigation is going to be thorough. We have multiple prosecutors involved in it already and on scene.”

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Winquist said an off-duty dispatcher saw Harrison’s vehicle and reported it to Cranston police, prompting officers to respond.

Winquist described the suspect’s erratic driving before he was fatally shot by police. He had been driving at a high rate of speed, at times on the wrong side of Plainfield Pike.

“He swerved at several police vehicles, striking a Cranston police vehicle,” Winquist said.

The vehicle jumped the center median, and lost control and struck a rock, and the vehicle became disabled, he said.

Cranston police officers and a Providence detective then ordered the suspect out of the vehicle.

Within minutes, “the suspect eventually did exit [the] vehicle,” Winquist said, “brandishing a firearm, a handgun, which he pointed at the officers.”

“At that point the officers fired, killing the suspect,” Winquist said, identifying him as Harrison.

Evidence markers on Plainfield Pike at the Cranston/Johnson line, where James Harrison, 52, of Johnston, was fatally shot by police Wednesday, after, police say, he brandished a handgun and pointed it at officers.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Winquist declined to name the officers who shot Harrison.

“I can tell you officers from the Cranston Police Department, several officers, as well as the Providence Police Department, are believed to have fired rounds at the suspect,” he said.

Winquist said the incident was recorded by police body-worn cameras, as well as bystander video.

Winquist said to his knowledge there were no apparent injuries to law enforcement officers, however several officers were sent to the hospital “just to be evaluated.”

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“As you can imagine, it’s a traumatic incident,” he said.

This story has been updated with comments from Cranston Police Chief Michael Winquist, and Deputy Attorney General Adi Goldstein. Carlos Munoz of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.


maria caporizzo can be reached at maria.caporizzo@globe.com. Follow her @mariacap.