Florida man named as suspect in East Providence shooting, chase

Police identify Pavao, who faces several firearm, motor vehicle charges

By Mike Rego
Posted 12/2/23

EAST PROVIDENCE — The East Providence Police identified the suspect and announced charges he faces from a harrowing chase he led officers through Friday afternoon, Dec. 1.

Joshua D. Pavao, …

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Florida man named as suspect in East Providence shooting, chase

Police identify Pavao, who faces several firearm, motor vehicle charges


EAST PROVIDENCE — The East Providence Police identified the suspect and announced charges he faces from a harrowing chase he led officers through Friday afternoon, Dec. 1.

Joshua D. Pavao, 43 and with a last known address in Kissimmee, Fla., was taken into custody after a pursuit led police from the scene of a shooting in the Riverside section of the city to an accident at the intersection of Taunton Avenue and Pawtucket Avenue. Pavao is the person who discharged firearms and was the target of the chase.

He faces the following charges:

  • 106 counts of Possessing a Large Capacity Feeding Device
  • 2 counts License or Permit Required for Carrying a Pistol
  • Discharge of a Firearm from a Motor Vehicle
    Firing in a Compact Area
  • Eluding an Officer with a Motor Vehicle in a High-Speed Pursuit
  • Duty to Stop for an Accident Resulting in Injury
  • Duty to Stop for an Accident with Occupied Vehicle
  • Vandalism
  • Obstructing and Officer in Execution of Duty
The entire incident is still under investigation, according to police, including the suspect's motive.
Pavao's relationship, if any, to the owners of the Estrelle Drive residence where the shooting took place and the chase eminated remains unknown. Detectives continue to question  all potential witnesses.

“This was an extremely volatile situation involving a dangerous and unpredictable suspect who put so many of our residents and police officers in harms way. My officers and dispatchers handled this very serious situation with great professionalism and restraint," said EPPD Chief Christopher Francesconi.

He continued, "This investigation remains very active as we try to understand the motive and intentions of the suspect. We have been working with other law enforcement agencies to further the investigation. I would also like to thank the Seekonk Police Department for their assistance during the immediate aftermath of this incident.”

The day after the events, the EPPD released a detailed account of the incident, which began Friday at 2:20 p.m. upon receiving an emergency call reporting shots fired at an Estrelle Drive residence in what, the words of the police, "appears to be a targeted attack."

Dispatchers broadcast the suspect vehicle description, a black Nissan Armada with an unknown Florida registration plate. The first officer arrived on scene in less than two minutes, and it was quickly confirmed that at least one shot struck a vehicle at the home, shattering its rear window. The suspect vehicle was last observed fleeing toward Willett Avenue.

The report continued, minutes later EPPD Detective Michael Sullivan observed the suspect vehicle on Pawtucket Avenue and it took an abrupt turn on to Crown Avenue. Sullivan lost sight of the vehicle briefly, but once again located it in the vicinity of Silver Spring Avenue and Dodge Street.

Sullivan attempted to conduct a motor vehicle stop, but the driver did not acquiese, continuing on the streets in the Kent Heights area.

Less than three minutes later, the vehicle was observed on Vincent Avenue, driving toward Pawtucket Avenue. Officers again lost sight of the vehicle but were directed down Cushman Avenue by a City of East Providence Water Department employee who was stopped on the side of the road. Several area residents then directed officers where they last saw the suspect vehicle.

At approximately 2:32 p.m. officers again located the vehicle and reengaged in the pursuit.

The suspect vehicle fled on Cushman Avenue and began traveling north on Pawtucket Avenue at a high rate of speed. As it traveled north, a long gun magazine was either discarded or fell from the vehicle.

The vehicle continued north through the Warren Avenue intersection, toward Waterman Avenue. The suspect vehicle struck another vehicle at the intersection with Waterman Avenue, then continued north on Pawtucket Avenue at a high rate of speed. At 2:35 p.m. the suspect vehicle proceeded through the red light at the Taunton Avenue intersection striking multiple vehicles, rendering his vehicle inoperable on Pawtucket Avenue between Chase Bank and the Davenport’s Restaurant parking lot.

Pavao exited his vehicle and fled on foot toward Davenport’s with several officers chasing him. Officers were able to take the suspect into custody in the parking area toward the rear of the restaurant.

The suspect vehicle struck three other vehicles at the intersection of Taunton Avenue. Two of those vehicles were significantly damaged with the third sustaining very minor damage. The occupants of the vehicles that sustained significant damage had minor injuries. They were transported to area hospitals by the East Providence Fire Department.

As a result of the crash, numerous loaded long gun magazines were ejected from the vehicle and found scattered throughout the crash area. Hundreds of rounds of long gun ammunition were also strewn throughout the area. Located inside the suspect vehicle were thousands of rounds of ammunition in three duffle bags and a significant number of lose rounds throughout the interior of the vehicle. No firearms were located inside the vehicle, on the suspect’s person nor in the large crash scene.

Officers began the task of clearing the roadway, securing the scene and painstakingly searching the area for all of the ammunition and other potential evidence that was ejected from the vehicle.

Numerous officers began searching the locations in which the suspect vehicle previously traveled in an effort to locate weapons. A short time later, a civilian contacted police reporting a suspicious backpack in a leaf covered area just off of Boyd Avenue. Officers immediately responded and located a backpack. Near the back were three loaded Glock handguns and a pellet style rifle. A bullet proof vest was also located by the back pack.

Clarifying a previously noted part of the event, the report states the only shot apparently fired by Pavao was on Estrelle Drive. No shots were fired by officers throughout the duration of this incident.

During the search and pursuit of the suspect vehicle, two of our officers were involved in a motor vehicle crash in the vicinity of Dover Avenue and Gardiner Street, causing a police vehicle to come into contact with a house. The home sustained minor damage and one of the officers was transported to the hospital with minor injuries. He was treated and later released.

“I am extremely proud of the men and women of the East Providence Police and Fire Departments for their swift action during yesterday’s emergency incident,” Mayor Bob DaSilva said. “Thanks to their training and professionalism, the members of the East Providence Police Department were quickly able to apprehend the suspect and locate the guns and ammunition without any threat to our community. I commend them on their actions during Friday’s incident.”

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Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.