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RIPTA Passenger Stabbed To Death on Bus

Police were seen boarding a RIPTA passenger bus early Wednesday morning on West Main Road near Carnegie Tower.

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Updated at 4:00 p.m. Wednesday

A Providence man, arrested early Wednesday morning after allegedly stabbing a Portsmouth woman on a Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) bus, was arraigned this afternoon in Second District Court.  To see the updated story, click here.

Several early commuters drove by the RIPTA bus, which was seen stopped at 6:15 a.m. on West Main Road near the overlook at Lehigh Terrace. 

"On Feb. 27, at approximately 6:15 a.m. Portsmouth police were called to the area of West Main Road near Willow Lane in regards to a reported stabbing that occurred on a RIPTA bus," according to a release issued by Portsmouth police.

"When police arrived on scene, they learned that a 46-year-old female resident of Portsmouth had been stabbed by a male passenger shortly after she boarded the bus. Immediately after the stabbing, two other male passengers brought the suspect to the ground and detained him until police arrived."

A State Police trooper was seen running onto the passenger bus at one point. A Portsmouth fire engine and ambulance were also on scene.  

"The victim was transported to the Rhode Island Hospital where she was pronounced dead shortly after arrival," according to the release. "The suspect was taken into custody and is to be arraigned on murder charges later today.

"It is important to note that this does not appear to be random act of violence, but rather a domestic related incident."

The suspect has been identified as 46-year-old Christopher R. James with a last known address of 207 Rhodes St., Providence. 

The identity of the victim is being withheld by investigators until family members can be notified. 

James has an extensive criminal history dating back to 1985, according to court records, including a 2011 charge of assault on a person over 60 in which he was remanded to the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI). He is expected to be arraigned at 2 p.m. today. 

Governor Lincoln Chafee, RIPTA chairman and Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian and Interim Executive Director of RIPTA, State Police Lt. Col. Raymond Studley, also issued this joint statement:

We first want to express our condolences to the family of the victim and our support for the passengers and driver who witnessed this troubling incident. This was an isolated event and Rhode Islanders should continue to be confident in their safety while using RIPTA. We have full confidence that the Portsmouth Police will conduct a full and thorough investigation and we will assist that investigation in any way possible.

It is unknown how many people were on board the bus at the time of the stabbing. The incident occurred on bus #60, a route which has the third-higest daily ridership in the state, according to WPRI. 

The stabbing also occurs on the same day as a community meeting on how to improve RIPTA services. The meeting is scheduled to be held tonight at the Newport Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) campus.

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