U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island
October 22, 2009
Providence man admits to gun offense;
Arrested near the scene of a shooting
Jonathan Rodriguez, 21, of Providence, pleaded guilty today to being a felon in possession of a firearm. Providence Police arrested Rodriguez last November after hearing gun shots and seeing Rodriguez running, holding a silver handgun. At about the same time, a man had been shot nearby, but later did not identify the shooter.
United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha announced the guilty plea, which Rodriguez entered before U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith in U.S. District Court, Providence.
At the plea hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard W. Rose said the government could prove that, at about 11:00 PM on November 12, 2008, officers heard several gunshots fired near the basketball courts on Salmon Street, in the Manton Avenue housing projects. An officer then saw Rodriguez running and saw a silver handgun in his right hand. Rodriguez tossed the handgun before officers caught and handcuffed him, but officers retrieved the gun, a .380 semi-automatic pistol that was loaded with two rounds.
At about the same time, officers came upon an individual being treated by Fire Department EMTs for a gunshot wound to his right leg. He had been shot on Salmon Street at about the time officers had heard the gunshots. Officers recovered two .380 caliber shell casings at the scene. They also recovered a damaged bullet from the floor of a nearby apartment, where the tenant said the bullet had come through a window a short while earlier.
The shooting victim declined to cooperate with police and failed to identify Rodriguez as the shooter. Rodriguez claimed to have found the gun just before running into the police officers. However, as a previously convicted felon, Rodriguez is prohibited by federal law from possessing a firearm.
Rodriguez is detained pending sentencing, which is scheduled for February 19. The statutory maximum penalty for being a felon in possession of a firearm is 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
Providence Police and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms investigated the case as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a Department of Justice initiative against gun crimes. Under Project Safe Neighborhoods, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, working with Providence Police, ATF, the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office, Rhode Island State Police, and other agencies, aggressively prosecutes federal firearms offenses in an effort to incarcerate those responsible for gun violence and deter others from committing gun crimes. Since 2001, federal gun offenders have been sentenced to a total of more than 900 years in federal prison.