WOONSOCKET – The man who allegedly fired a gun at two people in a car, causing the summer's most dramatic bit of mayhem in the process, surrendered Wednesday morning after a weeks-long game of cat-and-mouse with the police.
Justin Menard, 25, whose last known address was on Fifth Avenue, had been on the lam since the July 14 incident on Robinson Street.
One of multiple rounds Menard allegedly fired passed through the windshield of the other vehicle and struck the driver, who crashed through a nearby house in attempts to escape the fusillade.
Menard was ordered held in lieu of bail at the ACI on two counts of assault with intent to commit a felony during an initial appearance in District Court, Providence, after turning himself in at police headquarters.
“We had been actively searching for him since July 15, even in out-of-state locations because we had an extraditable warrant,” said Detective Lt. Eugene Jalette, the police spokesman. Although the police didn't find him, “We came close a couple of times,” Jalette said.
Police still don't know where Menard was hiding. He was accompanied by his lawyer, Scott Lutes, when he surrendered and didn't make any statements, said Jalette.
On the night of the shooting, police said Alvin Huggins, 27, was driving with his girlfriend, Yanira Flores, 24, when they crossed paths with Menard in another vehicle. The two men stopped and exchanged words before Menard exited his vehicle and began shooting at Huggins and Flores.
Traveling in reverse, Huggins' car violently jumped a curb and smashed through 597 Robinson St., where Sandy and Brad Gagnon were home with their two children, eight and 13 years old. Though stunned by the sudden crash-landing of a BMW sedan in their basement, none of the Gagnons was injured in the ordeal.
When police arrived, friends of Huggins had already taken him to Landmark Medical Center, where he was treated for a gunshot wound on his shoulder and later released, said Jalette. Flores was uninjured.
There's no evidence the shooting had anything to do with drugs or gangs, according to the police. Jalette said the investigation suggests the encounter was a case of bad blood that simmered for days before finally boiling over.
“There had been an argument a few days earlier,” said Jalette. “It was really an argument about nothing.”
Though Menard has a police record that dates back to 2004, it consists mostly of minor infractions. His most serious scrape with the law came in November 2008, when he pleaded no contest to a Woonsocket police charge of attempted breaking and entering.
A Superior Court judge sentenced him to 36 months, with five to serve and the balance suspended, with probation.