PROVIDENCE – A chaotic police chase that began in Burrillville and involved a highway shooting in North Smithfield ended Friday night, police say, near Women & Infants Hospital with two city police officers shooting at the suspect’s car, killing him and wounding his minor passenger.
At a Saturday news conference attended by city and state law enforcement officials, Providence Police Chief Oscar L. Perez Jr. identified the deceased man as Michael Pinto, 40, of Glocester.
Also injured was Providence police Lt. Eugene Chin, who the chief said had reached into Pinto’s car to try to get him to stop while he was stuck in traffic around the hospital, and a nurse who was struck by a vehicle, perhaps Pinto’s, as the suspect ignored officers’ orders to stop.
Burrillville Police Chief Stephen J. Lynch said his officers first encountered Pinto, who is known to local authorities, on Thursday when they tried to stop him on a motor vehicle violation. Pinto fled, Lynch said, and a brief chase ensued before officers broke off the pursuit.
Burrillville police saw him again Friday just after 7:30 p.m., and another pursuit began on the Burrillville/Glocester line. The chase went briefly into Uxbridge, Massachusetts, before it swung onto Route 146, stacked up with traffic.
Burrillville officers attempted “to box him in with their vehicles and arrest him,” Lynch said. Two officers got out of their vehicles and approached Pinto in front of his car. “Pinto then drove his vehicle” at one of the officers, said Lynch. Another officer fired two rounds into Pinto’s vehicle before it took off again, Lynch said, striking another Burrillville cruiser as he went. Burrillville police then lost sight of him.
Perez gave the following account of what happened next:
Perez said an initial intercity police broadcast, sometime around 8 p.m. Friday, went out that Pinto had shot at a pursuing Burrillville police officer. A short time later a corrected version was broadcast that a Burrillville officer had shot at Pinto’s car – two shots – after Pinto tried to ram an officer with his car while stuck in traffic on Route 146 South. Perez said Pinto also struck another cruiser with his car before taking off.
Soon after, the Burrillville officers lost sight of the car.
A Providence police officer later saw the car coming off Route 10 and onto Dean Street, said Perez.
Officers attempted to stop the car, but Pinto drove over a sidewalk and continued on in a “reckless manner.”
Providence police pursued him, and at the intersection of Eddy and Dudley streets he was caught in traffic.
Chin attempted to get Pinto out of the vehicle. Pinto put the car in reverse and hit the unmarked vehicle of Sgt. Matthew Rampone, who was directly behind the car. Chin had to let go of Pinto to avoid injury.
Pinto then drove over the sidewalk to flee from officers. He drove onto Gay Street by the emergency entrance at Women & Infants Hospital and again got caught in traffic. He mounted the sidewalk again, this time striking a nurse standing outside, who was later taken to the hospital with injuries.
Two officers, Rampone and Sgt. Joseph Lopes, then approached Pinto’s car, one from the front, the other from the rear. Pinto put the car in reverse, with Rampone and the nurse behind his car.
“It is at this time that both Sgt. Rampone and Sgt. Lopes discharged their duty weapons,” said Perez.
The officers removed Pinto from the car. It was then, Perez said, that police realized a second person was in the car, a teenage passenger, who had been wounded in the leg. Pinto later died at Rhode Island Hospital.
The two Providence police officers and the Burrillville officer are on administrative leave, common protocol in such police shootings, as state police and the attorney general’s office investigate both shooting incidents, the police chiefs said.
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