NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Firefighters had to use heavy metal-cutting equipment to extricate a man from a car in front of 159 Urban Ave. Wednesday night after a bizarre incident that neighbors said began when he flew into a rage over someone taking his parking spot.
Before the incident was over, the man smashed his vehicle into at least four parked cars and, according to neighbors, tried to run them over and used a crow bar to smash a kitchen window. It ended when, in the process of hitting another car, his own vehicle tipped over, trapping him inside.
Battalion Chief Gerald Capaldi said the man, who was not immediately identified, was unconscious when rescuers arrived at the scene around 9:15 p.m. He said the man appeared to be the only one injured in the car smashing spree, which ended with his being transported to the trauma unit at Rhode Island Hospital.
Nicole Hopp, who lives at 159 Urban Ave., said she became aware when she moved into the neighborhood in January that there was a man living in half of the two-car garage next to her house. She said she did not know his name but that everyone referred to him as “Metal Mike.”
Wednesday afternoon, things began to get tense when “Mike” returned to the street and began racing his car up and down. Hopp said the man became upset because someone had cut the garage’s electricity and because her boyfriend, who has several cars, left a car with a flat tire in what he viewed as his spot in front of the garage.
She said he proceeded to ram his car into one of the cars belonging to her boyfriend, Ryan Fuller, and when people came out of the house to see what was going on he drove his car straight onto the lawn in an apparent attempt to run them over. “I thought he was going to ram the house,” she said.
Instead, she said, he pulled out a crowbar, using it to smash her kitchen window as well as her front door.
Then, she said, he got back into his car, using his vehicle to smash other cars belonging to her boyfriend, pushing one of the vehicles into the garage door and damaging a car inside In the process, the man’s own car tipped over.
Mayor Charles Lombardi, who was at the scene, said it was apparent that the man had set the garage up with all the comforts of home, and that he would asked the town’s building official to inspect the set-up to determine whether it was legal.