The Providence Police Department identified the victim of Wednesday’s shooting outside Providence Career and Technical Academy as William Parsons, a 15-year-old student at Central High School. Parsons was an “innocent bystander” in a dispute between two other teenagers, police said during a press conference Thursday.
“He was standing nearby, and we believe he was shot and killed and was not the target,” said Providence Commissioner of Public Safety Steven Paré .
A second teenager, who is a person of interest in the original shooting, accidentally shot himself in the leg while attempting to elude Providence Police, Colonel of Providence Police Hugh Clements, Jr. announced Thursday. He was transported to Hasbro Children’s Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Police confirmed Thursday that he is a juvenile enrolled in the Providence school system. His name has not been released at this time.
Clements announced that the person of interest was to be released from the hospital yesterday. Upon his release, he will be charged with murder, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin confirmed during Thursday’s press conference.
“In conjunction with the school department and the state, we are providing additional behavioral health, social and emotional counseling for kids throughout the day and continuing in the following days,” Mayor of Providence Jorge Elorza said at the press conference, adding that there will be expanded police presence at Providence Career and Technical Academy, Central High School and Classical High School until Friday.
Police seized a handgun Wednesday afternoon. The weapon never entered a school building. “It is unlawful for a minor under the age of 18 to possess and use any firearm or ammunition, unless he has a firearm permit and is at an approved rifle range or camp and is in the presence of a qualified adult,” according to the National Rifle Association.
Parents of local high school students gathered in front of the Providence Career and Technical Academy sign Thursday, where candles and flowers lined the school’s cement sign, which was still visibly stained with blood.
Howard Washington, a parent to two students at Central High School, is frustrated that his children were expected to return to school less than 24 hours after the tragedy.
“My question to the mayor of Providence and to the governor is ‘why did you open school today?’ It’s a school shooting, it’s a tragedy. All of our children are crying and mourning. They should be counseled at home first, Friday as well as today, and let them go into next week,” Washington told The Herald.
Director of Communications for Providence Public Schools Laura Hart said schools opened after a discussion involving the Providence School Department, police and other educational experts that determined “it is important for students to have access to resources as soon as possible.”
Parsons is Providence’s eighth homicide victim this year, according to the Providence Journal.