NORTH SMITHFIELD, R. I. — Two men described as best friends and former classmates were charged Friday in a string of sniper attacks on isolated homes last winter, and relieved residents said they do not expect to spend another Christmas behind closed curtains.
Five people were injured, two of them seriously, in 11 shootings from Dec. 8, 1986, to Jan. 8. Until Thursday, authorities had been baffled by the crimes, for which no motive has been determined.
Rhode Island authorities charged Peter T. Trepanier, 24, with five counts of assault to commit murder and Russell J. Ducharme II, 23, with six counts of assault to commit murder. Both also were charged with numerous weapons violations.
They also face charges in Bellingham, Mass., where two of the shootings occurred.
Trepanier turned himself in to Woonsocket police Thursday and later implicated Ducharme, state police Capt. Michael J. Urso said.
Both confessed, Asst. Atty. Gen. Eva-Marie Mancuso said Friday. Defense attorneys declined to comment, other than to say that as far as they knew neither had spoken to a lawyer before the alleged confessions.
The news of the arrests was welcome in this rural community, where residents huddled behind drawn drapes during the month-long series of attacks last year.