Child shot and killed in Warwick

Police detectives investigate killing, confirm alleged gunman took his own life



Everyone remained on edge at the hardware store across the street following Thursday morning’s horrific shooting in Warwick.

“Can we help you?” the cashier asked each new entrant to the store.

It was freezing outside and the crowd of onlookers was thick. Television cameras lined the curb. A car parked in the road outside Salk’s Ace Hardware & Marine.

One worker inside the store shared the news he learned just a few minutes earlier. Customers were coming in and dropping off bits of information. Everyone in the store hoped it wasn’t as bad as they were hearing.

Shortly before 11 a.m., Warwick Police Chief Col. Bradford E. Connor approved a press release. The rumors were pretty much true. But police confirmation somehow made the news worse; harder to stomach.

A child was shot and killed. And then, according to police, the gunman turned the gun on himself.

Warwick Mayor Frank Picozzi summed up the news: “It’s a very sad day in our city.”

Around 8:24 a.m., Thursday, March 21, Warwick Police responded to 71 Frawley St. for a reported domestic disturbance.

“Prior to arrival they received information that a child had been shot and the alleged assailant was still inside the home with a firearm,” according to a WPD press release. “Officers gained entry into the home and discovered the deceased body of a small child as well as an adult male who was also deceased; having suffered from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

At the scene off West Shore Road, across the street from Spring Grove Avenue, police tape flapped in the steady gusts of late winter wind. It suddenly felt like winter again.

Warwick patrol officers paced the parking lot of Electronic Alarm Systems, Inc., scanning the macadam for possible evidence. They walked with their heads bowed, eyes focused on the ground.

Other officers patrolled the alley with assault weapons drawn and ready. A huddle of law enforcement crowded around possible witnesses (maybe family) — all of their grief was apparent.

Two schools —Lippitt Elementary and Warwick Veterans Memorial Middle — were placed on lockdown as police assessed the situation.

“I’m sure that most of you have seen or heard of the large police presence in the Warwick Vets area,” Picozzi posted on social media at 9:53 a.m. “I can’t give any details at this time but I can say that there is no longer a threat to public safety. This is an ongoing investigation and the police will release details later.”

On Friday afternoon, Warwick Police identified the shooter, his young victim and the terrified mother who called police for help — 33-year-old Warwick woman Estefania Dempsey.

“She stated that her husband, 33-year-old Seamus Dempsey, shot their son with a handgun,” according to Warwick Police. The little boy was four years old. His name was Liam Dempsey.

“Estefania also advised Officers that her 79-year-old mother-in-law, Ellen Dempsey, was still in the home,” according to police. “Officers on-scene were able to communicate with Ellen and assist her with exiting the home successfully and without injury.”

Police confirmed the four-year-old victim was the “biological son” of the woman who called police and the alleged shooter, Seamus Dempsey.

The WPD press release asked for patience and offered condolences: “While detectives continue to gather evidence and piece together the events leading up to this horrific crime, the members of the Warwick Police Department continue to send our deepest condolences to the family members affected by this senseless and unimaginable act as well as the countless others in our community who have been impacted. As a community, we are saddened by the events that occurred (last Thursday).”


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