Shared from the 3/26/2020 The Providence Journal eEdition

Providence police ‘continue to work,’ seize 5 guns in a few hours

Providence police seized five guns in three separate incidents and arrested men on charges ranging from domestic assault to threatening to kill a police officer over the course of just a few hours Tuesday and Wednesday.

With the coronavirus pandemic, police have had to alter some of their normal routines, but they’re still out there making arrests even in a time of social distancing and self-quarantines, the police chief said.

“That’s really good work by the Providence Police Department in these difficult times,” said Col. Hugh T. Clements Jr.

The first incident had its origins in a disturbance Sunday on Prairie Avenue. Officers went to the scene to break it up. A 19-year-old who was involved in that incident later made a video in which he went on a tirade, threatening to kill Providence police officers, Clements said. He also had what appeared to be a real firearm.

The Organized Crime and Intelligence Unit drafted a search warrant to get into the residence on Prairie Avenue and arrested Carlos Vazquez, 19, the man police said threatened to kill the officers in the video, on Tuesday afternoon. They also seized marijuana and a handgun.

Vazquez was charged with possession of a firearm while committing a controlled substance violation, possession with intent to deliver marijuana, controlled substance conspiracy and threatening a public official, Clements said.

Another man there, Jose Vargas, 19, faces weapons and drug charges, according to police.

Detectives Matt McGloin and Zachary Silbert, Sgt. Nicholas Ludovici and Patrolmen Alex Schneider and Jonathyn Pirolli were involved in that case, as were Sgt. Curt Desautels and K9 unit Thor.

In another incident, at about 6:30 p.m., members of the Violent Crime Task Force spotted Tyron Benton, 21, for whom they knew there was a warrant for domestic simple assault. They pulled him over, and the incident led back to his home on Comstock Avenue. Police seized two firearms there, and Benton now faces weapons possession charges in addition to the domestic assault charge, police said.

Officers Jonathan Smith and Robert Foley of the Violent Crime Task Force were involved in that case.

In the third incident, police went to look for Marlon McClain, who was wanted on a domestic felony assault charge, Clements said. McClain was accused of pulling a gun out on his girlfriend.

Officers went to an area where they knew McClain hung out on William Ellery Place, behind a shopping plaza on North Main Street.

When police arrived, there were a few people in a driveway who took off, including one who appeared to be holding something in his waistband, Clements said. Police arrested Gary Ruspus, 20, a friend of McClain, after a foot chase, Clements said. He had a gun, a .40-caliber Smith and Wesson, police said. Ruspus was charged with possession of a pistol without a license.

Then, early Wednesday, a security guard spotted an object on the ground behind the Petco on North Main Street — another firearm. Clements said police believe someone may have ditched it after running from the police when they were looking for McClain. Nobody has been arrested in connection with that firearm, but police seized it.

In an interview Wednesday, Clements said nobody in the Providence police has tested positive for COVID-19, sparing the department the enormous strain that other agencies are facing. More than 200 civilian and sworn members of the New York Police Department have coronavirus, the New York Post reported Tuesday

“We’re still bracing for what might come,” Clements said. “But right now we’re healthy, and certainly we’ve limited the amount and types of calls we’re responding to until we get out of the early stages of this crisis, but we continue to work.” bamaral@

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