08/18/2003

High-tech PepperBall gun helps police subdue suspect

Providence Journal-Bulletin (Rhode Island)

Police, using a new high-tech, nonlethal weapon, subdued an armed Warren man late Tuesday night in a domestic hostage dispute that required the assistance of Barrington and Bristol police.

Police responded to a call at 19 Croade St. shortly before 10 p.m. to investigate a reported argument between a husband and wife. Upon arriving at the front door, the two officers heard and saw the married couple yelling at each other through the front window, said Warren Police Chief Thomas D. Gordon.

The man, armed with knives, reportedly threatened his wife and the police. The police then stormed the house, using a PepperBall gun for the first time to restrain a suspect. Randy L. Parker, 34, was seated at the kitchen table with his wife. On the table were two "very large knives, each well over one-and-a-half-feet long," Gordon said. During the couple''s argument, the officers heard Parker say that he would attack the first police officer who entered the residence, Gordon said. Parker also reportedly told his wife that he would not go back to jail and that the police were going to have to kill him, Gordon said.

After seeing Parker make threatening gestures with the knives, the two officers called for backup. Three more Warren police officers then arrived, as well as two from Barrington and one from Bristol. The officers, after situating themselves around the duplex, stormed the front door, shooting Parker with the OC PepperBall Launching system. The attack led to the easy arrest as Parker, dressed only in his underwear, was escorted from the house coughing and choking, the police said.

The OC PepperBall Launching system consists of a PepperBall launcher and PepperBall projectiles. The launcher, a semiautomatic, high-pressure gun, shoots PepperBall projectiles, hard plastic spheres filled with enough pepper derivatives to irritate one''s eyes, nose and throat, built to burst on impact, according to the manufacturer''s statement.

Currently used by more than 1,800 agencies worldwide, it is also used by police in Central Falls, East Providence and Providence and by the Rhode Island Department of Corrections, Rhode Island Sheriff''s Department, and at the Wyatt Detention Center, said Michael Ray, public relations manager in charge of PepperBall, in an e-mail.

The PepperBall system, deployed Aug. 6 and used for the first time in the Parker hostage crisis, was highly effective, Chief Gordon said. "Based on the threatening nature of Parker''s comments... all indications were that Parker would not be easily subdued. Without [PepperBall], this arrest would have incurred more injuries."

In Warren police custody by 10:35 p.m., Parker was charged with domestic disorderly conduct, assault on a uniformed police officer and resisting arrest. He was held overnight and released on a $1,000 surety bail in District Court, Providence. Parker was also issued a no-contact order regarding his wife.

This is Parker''s third arrest. He previously pleaded guilty to simple domestic assault in 1999, and no contest to domestic vandalism/malicious injury to property and domestic refusal to relinquish the telephone in 2002.

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