Police: Cruiser theft suspect Donald Morgan now linked to another crime

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The man charged with stealing a state police cruiser, triggering a series of events that ended in a deadly officer-involved shooting, is now being linked by police to a crime that happened two days earlier.

Donald Morgan is the prime suspect in a theft from the Macy’s at the Warwick Mall on Nov. 7, according to Col. Stephen McCartney. Police released images of a man who they say stole two women’s North Face jackets from the department store. Then, as an employee approached the suspect to keep him from exiting the store, police say he pulled out a knife and threatened the employee.

An image from security cameras at the mall released by police shows a man who bears a striking resemblance to Morgan from pictures shown following the theft of the cruiser.

“We believe that it is Donald Morgan,” McCartney said. “We are on the cusp of drawing warrants and will lodge them at the ACI.”

McCartney said Morgan will likely be charged with two counts of shoplifting and they are looking at the incident with the knife to determine if more charges will follow.

McCartney said he did speak with state police Col. Ann Assumpico to inform her they would be charging Morgan in the shoplifting case.

Morgan, 35, was arrested in Cumberland last Friday after being on the run for one day. He is accused of stealing a state police cruiser when he was being transported to court; a trooper pulled over to assist in a car accident when investigators say Morgan – still in handcuffs – slipped into the front seat and took off.

The search triggered a massive hunt for Morgan. Police were told by an eyewitness that someone matching his description jumped into the bed of white pickup truck.

Later, police gave chase to a white pickup driven by 32-year-old Joseph Santos, who police say refused to stop for a Cranston patrolman. A high-speed pursuit ended in a hail of gunfire near the Providence Place mall Thursday morning. Santos was shot and died from a gunshot wound to the neck, according to the medical examiner. His passenger Christine Demers was also shot but survived and was sent to R.I. Hospital.

McCartney said Morgan will be arraigned on the shoplifting case after he is formally charged.

Tim White ( twhite@wpri.com ) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook