SHATTERED WINDOW
Joe Giblin  /  AP
A shattered third floor window is seen in the Providence Public Safety Complex where suspect Estenban Carpio jumped after shooting and killing Providence Police Detective James L. Allen Sunday, April 17, 2005, in Providence, R.I, Police Chief Dean Esserman said. (AP Photo/Joe Giblin)
updated 4/17/2005 9:52:58 PM ET 2005-04-18T01:52:58

A Providence detective was killed with his own gun at police headquarters Sunday by a suspect who was not handcuffed and managed to get hold of the weapon, the police chief said.

The killing of James Allen, a 27-year veteran, comes after a series of attacks that have raised concerns about the security of those who work in the criminal justice system.

Allen, 50, was shot in the detective conference room while questioning Esteban Carpio about the stabbing of an 84-year-old woman who survived the attack, Chief Dean Esserman said. Carpio was not under arrest and had been taken out of handcuffs, he said.

Carpio, 26, allegedly grabbed the officer’s gun, shot him, broke a third floor window in an adjacent office and jumped onto a service road, Esserman said at a news conference. He was captured after a struggle a few blocks away and charged with murder on Sunday night.

The chief would not say how Carpio managed to get Allen’s weapon, and would not discuss other details leading up to the shooting, including whether there were witnesses.

“The investigation has begun and we will find answers, but not here this morning,” he said.

Esserman also would not discuss the protocols for carrying weapons inside police headquarters or for interviewing potential suspects.

Allen, who was married and had two daughters, was pronounced dead at a hospital shortly after the shooting.

‘He died a hero’
Deputy Police Chief Paul Kennedy said Allen was an experienced investigator, one of the department’s longest-serving detectives. His father is a retired police captain.

“Jimmy Allen passed in the noblest way possible. He gave his life trying to make our lives safer,” said Mayor David Cicilline. “He died a hero.”

Security in government buildings has been a greater concern since March, when a man in the middle of a rape retrial in Atlanta allegedly overpowered a court deputy and took her gun, then killed the judge presiding over his case, a court reporter, a deputy outside the courthouse and a federal customs agent.

Just weeks before, the husband and mother of a Chicago federal judge were slain in her home.

Visitors to the Providence police building must pass through a metal detector since last fall, when a man walked into the lobby with a loaded gun and told an officer he might hurt himself or someone else. Officers disarmed him and no one was hurt.

Michael Brady, an expert in police procedures who teaches at Salve Regina University in Newport, said every police station has areas called “weapons secure,” where guns are banned. These generally include cell blocks and interrogation rooms, he said, but not areas such as detective conference rooms.

But if Allen wanted to question Carpio, Brady said, it would not have been unusual for him to do so in a nonsecure area with his gun in his holster.

“This officer was not doing something very different than what police officers throughout the nation do every single day,” he said.

Brady said while all uniformed police officers use specialized security holsters to make it difficult for a suspect to remove the gun, most plainclothes officers use simpler holsters designed to conceal, rather than secure the gun.

Injured in jump
Police said Carpio was injured in his jump from the window, and was treated at a hospital for injuries to his leg, arm and head.

Esserman’s voice wavered as he briefed reporters.

“It is little consolation that a suspect has been apprehended,” Esserman said. “We’ve lost a remarkable man today, and this city is the worse for it.”

The last time a Providence police officer was killed was in January 2000, when Sgt. Cornel Young Jr., off duty and in civilian clothes, was killed by fellow officers who mistook him for a suspect when he ran to their aid.

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