Gun, drugs seized from SUV at Johnston gas station

Christian Johnson and Christine Taveira

JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Two people were arrested in Johnston Thursday after police seized drugs and a gun from the vehicle they were sitting in.

Johnston police said they received a call at about 8 p.m. from an eyewitness who said he saw a man loading a firearm inside an SUV parked at the Valero gas station on Putnam Pike.

Upon arrival, police saw a man and a woman sitting in the SUV and ordered them out of the vehicle. The woman, an employee of the gas station identified as Christine Taveira, told police “she had an argument with a customer and the whole thing was a misunderstanding.”

Police searched the vehicle and found a small baggy filled with a white, powdery substance later confirmed to be cocaine, a plastic container of marijuana, and a black Chiappa M9-22 pistol with an empty magazine and four .22-caliber bullets. The officers also noticed the smell of burnt marijuana, according to police.

Taveira, 24, of Pawtucket and the male suspect, identified as Christian Johnson, 24, of Braintree, were taken into custody. They were held overnight and arraigned Friday on charges of controlled substance conspiracy, possession of cocaine and possession of marijuana, the first two being felonies.

Johnson was also charged with carrying a pistol without a license and possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a crime of violence, both of which are felonies. Police said he was previously arrested for breaking and entering and taking a vehicle without consent.

“Him being in possession of a gun in a public place with other customers was very troubling,” said Deputy Chief Daniel Parrillo of the Johnston Police Department. “Whether his intentions were to hurt someone there or whether to do a drive by shooting, we don’t know what his intentions were.”

“This very easily could’ve been a horrific crime.”

Neighbor Sharon King has lived in the area for 15 years, and she hopes the police can handle this situation.

“I hope that they can solve this problem because we do have little kids here,” she said.

Johnson was held on $10,000 surety bail, while Taveira was released on $5,000 personal recognizance.

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