WOONSOCKET – An investigation by the Woonsocket Police Department continues after three males were stabbed, one seriously, in a public housing project Sunday in the aftermath of an altercation that began at a nightclub in Providence.
A fourth man was responsible for the stabbings but it's unlikely he'll be charged with any offense since he appears to have acted in self defense after the other three attacked him, leaving him with multiple injuries, according to Deputy Police Chief Michael Lemoine.
Lemoine said all of the stabbing victims are uncooperative and do not want to press charges, but one of them has been charged with disorderly conduct for being involved in a fight that transformed a corner of the Morin Heights Boulevard Family Housing Development into a scene of chaos.
“These are three people who came up, found this person, assaulted him and they ended up getting stabbed in the process,” said Deputy Police Chief Michael Lemoine. “They are uncooperative and they don't want to press charges.”
The one suspect presently facing charges is identified as Jose Hernandez Aquino, 24, of 102 Ontario St., Providence. He was taken into custody from Landmark Medical Center, where he was treated for minor stab wounds.
According to police reports, the episode began unfolding about 2 a.m. near 710 Morin Heights Blvd., which was the second time officers investigated a report of a disturbance in the area the same night. A short time earlier, police found nothing amiss, but after being dispatched to the complex a second time they located an adult male in his 20s inside the apartment with blood and cuts on his hands, face and legs.
After the victim was transported to Landmark Medical Center, police learned the man's injuries included a broken eye socket, Lemoine said.
There was no sign of the trio who allegedly attacked the man when investigators arrived at the housing complex, but while the police were at the scene they received a call from Landmark saying three males, including Aquino, had come to the hospital seeking treatment for stab wounds.
One of the other males was 17 years old and had suffered a minor shoulder wound, Lemoine said, and another was in his early 20s. Lemoine said the latter victim was transferred to Rhode Island Hospital, where he was admitted with eight stab wounds, including one that punctured his lung. It's unknown if the man is still a patient at the facility but Patrol Officer Nicholas Maglio's report says he was in stable condition hours after he was admitted.
As police tended to the male who was attacked outside 710 Morin Heights Blvd., they found themselves in the midst of a small throng of highly agitated individuals, including relatives of the victim and neighbors who were awakened by the commotion of the brawl.
“Family and neighbors were all outside screaming and then we get a call from Landmark that three individuals were there with stab wounds,” said Lemoine. “It was definitely a chaotic scene for the police officers who had to assist and follow up.”
Police found witnesses who said they saw three men, armed with “bats and sticks,” attacking another individual on an outdoor table near the apartment where police located him.
Police are still unsure of the motive for the attack, but investigators learned from witnesses that the incident may be gang-related.
“There were several witnesses on scene who did not wish to be identified that stated the involved participants were involved in gang activity,” Maglio's report says.
A girlfriend of the assault victim told police that earlier in the evening, one of the men had gotten into some sort of altercation with him at a Providence nightclub, and that Aquino tracked him down at home to fight him.
Police learned little more when they attempted to question the stabbing victims.
“They wouldn't even tell us the name of the nightclub where this happened,” said Lemoine. “I'm sure the Providence police would be interested in that.”
The Morin Heights victim didn't deny stabbing his alleged attackers in self defense, but he told police he didn't remember anything after getting hit in the head with a bottle.
But Lemoine said the lack of cooperation from the victims has police worried that they're more interested in taking matters into their own hands than seeking justice through lawful channels. Police have run into the same situation many times.
“The mentality is they'll take care of it on their own and people get hurt,” Lemoine said. “We don't want people getting hurt. Obviously we prefer the victims cooperate with us so we can charge the individual accordingly. We're always concerned about that retaliatory mentality.”
Follow Russ Olivo on Twitter @russolivo