The Police Log is a digest of reports filed by the Johnston Police. Chief Richard S. Tamburini or Deputy Chief David DeCesare has reviewed all reports.
An admitted member of the MS-13 street gang of Providence was arrested in Johnston on April 21 after police responded to an assault at the Panaderia El Paisano restaurant at 930 Plainfield St. Patrolman Matthew Leveillee was among five units that responded to the scene and reported finding a man lying on the ground in the parking lot who was semi-conscious and had injuries to his face. Johnston Rescue arrived and took the man to Rhode Island Hospital for evaluation while police at the scene interviewed witnesses. He said there were several men and he noticed that one of them had the letters “M” and “S” tattooed on his forearms, which police recognize as insignia for the MS-13 street gang in Providence and other cities.
Sgt. Joseph Salvadore asked the man if he was a member and he replied, “Yeah, officer, I ain’t gonna lie, I been bangin’ since I was 15, MS-13 for life.” Salvadore said a second man said, “Yeah, officer, 13 for life,” and the two men started to “throw” gang signs with their fingers. Salvadore called Providence Police and requested that any available Gang Unit officers come to assist the investigation. A sergeant and several other Gang Unit officers responded. Providence confirmed that the men were gang members and that one of them, Francisco A. Bonilla, 33, who told Salvadore he had been “bangin’” since he was 15, was the leader of the gang. Bonilla denied any involvement in the incident and said he was just at the restaurant to have a few beers and watch a soccer game, but he was detained while the investigation continued, as were three other men with him.
One of those men, the one who was “throwing” gang signs with Bonilla, was very nervous while being questioned and repeatedly put his hands in his pockets after being told not to. He was patted down for weapons. Leveillee said he didn’t find a weapon but he did find a Newport cigarette box with a baggie of what turned out to be marijuana and another baggie containing what later tested as cocaine in his pocket. Carlos Alberto Chamorro, 20, of 582 Plainfield St., Providence, was charged with possession of marijuana and cocaine and later transported to the ACI as a probation violator.
Police eventually surmised that the victim, who appeared to be intoxicated, had some confrontation with the other men in the restaurant that led to his assault but could not find witnesses or other evidence to charge any of them. Sgt. Michael Babbitt reported that he spoke with the victim at the hospital and he said he remembered nothing except walking in the parking lot and being hit from behind by someone he never saw. The other gang members were later released without being charged.
Johnston Firefighters were dispatched to two fires on April 22, and police suspect that arson was involved. Patrolman Matthew Leveillee reported he was dispatched to 2 Day St. around 8:10 p.m., where Johnston Firefighters told him they found the back door to the vacant single-family home open and entered that way to put out fire in the center and rear of the house. BCI was summoned to process the scene and the report was forwarded to detectives.
Patrolman Derek Parascandolo reported he was dispatched to an apartment house fire about 300 yards from the earlier fire. That fire started in a baby stroller that had been kept outside a young mother’s ground level apartment. Johnston Firefighters arrived after a neighbor had extinguished the fire but the baby stroller, which had been left outside for almost five months, had no accidental reason for bursting into flames. Parascandolo said the stroller was burned down to its aluminum frame and the frame of the sliding door to the woman’s apartment was charred and the wall blackened from the smoke. No suspects or witnesses.
NOT HIS DAY
Sgt. Matthew Benson reported he was flagged down by a motorist who alerted him to a disabled car in the intersection of Hartford and Atwood Avenues around 11:15 a.m. on April 22. Benson said he went there and found that the owner was there, pouring gas into the car, and explained that he ran out of gas. Benson said he noticed that the temporary plate on the car had expired on April 4 and the man explained that there had been a delay with the title. Benson said he said he showed him the paperwork and a summons from the Rhode Island State Police for driving an unregistered vehicle issued on April 20. Benson said he checked and found it was still not registered, and he also learned that there was a warrant out of East Greenwich for “Fraud-Insufficient Funds Check.” East Greenwich confirmed that the warrant was active and the DMV confirmed that his license had expired. Thomas B. Karneeb, 45, of 175 Federal Way, Johnston, was arrested and taken to headquarters, where he was issued tickets for driving an unregistered vehicle and driving on an expired license and then turned over to East Greenwich Police. The car was towed and held pending the resolution of registration and ownership issues.
GOT A JUMP ON IT
Patrolman Adam Parkinson reported a larceny from a shopper at the Burlington Coat Factory on Atwood Avenue on April 22. A 17-year-old Johnston girl told Parkinson she was shopping in the store from 11:30 a.m. to 12:25 p.m. and noticed that something was wrong when she went outside and her car would not start. She said she opened the hood to check the battery and saw that it was missing. She told Parkinson the car was always unsecured because none of the locks were working. There were no witnesses and no surveillance of the area, but Parkinson said a security guard told him that a tall black man with a thick, possibly African accent asked him if he had any jumper cables around 12:15. He said he told the man he did not and the man and two companions left the area. Parkinson said a family member arrived while he was there with a new battery that cost $98.43. The girl said she would press charges if the people who took her battery were caught.