2 dead, including suspect, in shooting at Rhode Island assisted living apartment complex

Shooting at Rhode Island senior housing complex; 2 dead, 2 injured

WESTERLY, R.I. — A 66-year-old man shot three people, one fatally, before apparently turning the gun on himself Thursday at an affordable housing complex geared toward seniors in Rhode Island, according to authorities.

Police said they responded around 10:30 a.m. to a call about a shooting at Babcock Village Apartments in Westerly. They found a 47-year-old woman who worked at the complex dead near the main entrance and two other women, identified as a 38-year-old employee and a 66-year-old resident, injured, police Chief Shawn Lacey said at a news conference.

One of the complex’s residents, Deborah Diehl, told The New York Times she left her apartment after hearing a “commotion” in the lobby. She said she saw another woman who lives at the complex on the ground, covered in blood.

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“There is yellow tape everywhere,” she told the Times.

Lacey said police found a potential suspect in the shooting during a review of the complex’s surveillance camera footage. The suspect was identified as a 66-year-old man who lived at the complex. Lacey said police previously had dealings with the man, though he declined to elaborate.

Authorities said they sent a robot equipped with video cameras into the suspect's apartment after identifying him. He was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, Rhode Island police Col. James Manni said.

The motive for Thursday's shooting was not immediately clear. Police said they recovered a handgun from the scene and that they were searching for any connections between the suspect and the victims Thursday afternoon. It was not immediately clear whether the victims were targeted or if the shooting was at random.

"It's a shock to the community," Lacey said, noting that while police have been called to Babcock Village Apartments before, they've never had to respond to a serious crime at the complex.

The three-story Babcock Village Apartments complex provides affordable housing for elderly and disabled people, according to the complex’s website. It’s comprised of 151 apartment units and owned by Property Advisory Group, Inc.

In a statement obtained by WJAR, officials with the company said they were “shocked and saddened” by Thursday’s shooting.

"Our priority, as always, is the safety of our residents and staff," the statement said. "We are working with law enforcement to address this situation."

Authorities continue to investigate.

Rhode Island State Police walk across the street in front of the Babcock Village apartments, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Westerly, R.I., where a shooting at the affordable housing complex for elderly and disabled left at least one person dead and two others injured.
Rhode Island State Police walk across the street in front of the Babcock Village apartments, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Westerly, R.I., where a shooting at the affordable housing complex for elderly and disabled left at least one person dead and two others injured. (Harold Hanka/The Sun/AP)