Jury finds Providence man guilty of assault with a dangerous weapon

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced today that a Providence man has been found guilty in Providence County Superior Court for shooting and seriously injuring 42-year-old Junior Rafael Pena Soto following an altercation at an Elmwood Avenue restaurant in Providence.

On July 2, 2024, following the conclusion of an 11-day jury trial before Superior Court Justice Robert D. Krause, the jury found Alex “Bemba” Perez (age 42) guilty of one count of assault with a dangerous weapon resulting in serious bodily injury, one count of discharging a firearm resulting in permanent incapacity, one count of carrying a firearm without a license, and one count of possession of a firearm by a person previously convicted of a crime of violence. The defendant is a known member of the Trinitarios street gang.

The defendant is currently being held without bail at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) pending his sentencing hearing to be held at a later date.

“Criminals previously convicted of violent crime are barred from owning weapons in Rhode Island, and this case is a perfect example of why,” said Attorney General Neronha. “Because a gun was readily available to this defendant, a career criminal, Junior Rafael Pena Soto nearly lost his life. I am grateful for the jury’s verdict here, which will certainly result in a well-deserved sentence for the defendant. And I want to thank the Providence Police, as well as the prosecutors from my office, for their outstanding work.”

During the trial, the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that on February 27, 2021, defendant shot Junior Rafael Pena Soto at Montecristo Bar & Restaurant on Elmwood Avenue following an altercation between the two men.

The defendant first visited the establishment at 5:20 p.m. asking the owner for money, and when he refused to give money to the defendant, the defendant told the owner he would return later in the evening to collect. Later that evening, the defendant returned while the restaurant was hosting a birthday celebration for one of the restaurant’s regular customers. Again, the defendant asked the restaurant manager for money. When the manager walked away from the defendant, the defendant followed him. The victim, who had been standing close to the manager and the defendant, stepped in and pushed the defendant. The defendant then pulled a gun from his waistband and fired a shot into the victim’s abdomen before fleeing out of the front entrance of the restaurant.

Through video surveillance footage and stills, investigators identified the defendant as the shooter and took him into custody.

“Gun violence will not be tolerated in our community and individuals who continue to engage in crimes involving a firearm will be held accountable,” said Providence Police Colonel Oscar L. Perez Jr. “I believe that justice has been served in this case, and I am thankful to our detectives and the Attorney General’s Office for their hard work on this case.

Special Assistant Attorneys General Alison Bittl and David Bonzagni of the Office of the Attorney General and Detective David Harrington, and BCI Detectives Anthony Doucette and James Clift of the Providence Police Department led the investigation and prosecution of the case.