Preliminary investigation suggests 80-year-old Rhode Island man set fire to home before committing suicide



Colonel Michael Winquist, Chief of the Cranston Police Department, announces that a joint investigation is underway into a suspected arson and an apparent suicide after being called to a house fire Monday night. The investigation is being conducted by members of the Cranston Police Detective Division, the State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Cranston Fire Prevention Unit, and the Medical Examiner’s Office.

At approximately 11:30 p.m., several calls were received for a house fire at 326 Beckwith Street, described as a single-family residence with a detached garage. While enroute, a neighbor called and recounted hearing what sounded like a single gunshot before smelling the smoke and learning the adjacent residence was on fire.

Upon arrival, Officers located an eighty-year-old man inside the garage suffering from a single gunshot wound with a firearm nearby. The man was transported to Rhode Island Hospital and was pronounced dead a short time later. Once the fire was extinguished, investigators discovered the home had been barricaded, and there were multiple points of origin where the fire started. A search of the property failed to reveal anyone else inside. Information was received that the man had been living alone in the house.

Based on the evidence from a preliminary investigation, it is believed that the man intentionally started the fire before responding to the garage to take his own life. The manner and cause of death will be determined by the State Medical Examiner, who will perform an autopsy.

No other persons were injured or any adjacent properties damaged.

The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24/7 for anyone experiencing an urgent behavioral health crisis by dialing or texting 988. The call will be answered by a trained counselor, who will listen, provide support, and connect the person to resources if necessary.

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