Police: Tiverton homicide suspect previously convicted of manslaughter

TIVERTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Police say an elderly man who shot and killed another elderly man before being shot dead by police was out on parole, serving a life sentence for first degree sexual assault. He was also previously convicted in a man’s killing.

During a news conference Tuesday, police identified the victim as John Cloud, 81, of Kingston, Mass., and the suspect as Edward Acquisto, 80, of State Avenue in Tiverton.

Tiverton Police Chief Thomas Blakey says the two met at the Pocasset Hill Cemetery in Tiverton around 7 p.m. Monday when Acquisto shot and killed Cloud. Police declined to comment on how the two knew each other or why they were meeting, though Chief Blakey says Acquisto was apparently known to frequent the cemetery to read the bible.

Witness reports helped police begin chasing the suspect, later identified as Acquisto, in a black car. The short chase crossed over into Fall River before crossing back into Tiverton and stopping on Ford Farm Road. Police say Acquisto fired at police first, and police shot back. Acquisto was killed in the driveway of a house on that road.

Police said two Fall River officers and one Tiverton officer fired their weapons. Police are not yet identifying the officers nor specifying which officer fired the fatal shot.

“Boy, this is a shock,” said Jean Medeiros, Acquisto’s next-door neighbor. She was incredulous at the thought of the elderly man committing murder. “He’s very fragile, very delicate, I mean he just about can walk, let’s put it that way. There was no weight to him.”

A woman who was inside Acquisto’s State Avenue home Tuesday afternoon declined to open the door or speak to reporters.

Rhode Island State Police is investigating the officer-involved shooting and is jointly investigating the homicide with Tiverton police.

Edward Acquisto mugshot from the late 1970s (Courtesy: Woonsocket Police)
Edward Acquisto mugshot from the late 1970s (Courtesy: Woonsocket Police)

“Because a death is involved, our practice has been to present this matter to a grand jury,” Assistant Attorney General Gerald Coyne said. The grand jury would determine if the officers were justified in shooting Acquisto.

According to the Attorney General’s office, Acquisto was sentenced to life in prison in 1981 after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting an ex-girlfriend in her Woonsocket apartment.

While serving that sentence, Acquisto pleaded no contest to a manslaughter charge in 1982 for beating a mean to death in Woonsocket four years prior. Acquisto was sentenced to 10 years to serve, 10 years suspended, and 10 years probation, which would run concurrent to the life sentence he was already serving.

He was paroled in 2003.

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