It’s 10 p.m. and outside your window you hear the blades from military helicopters scraping the tops of the trees outside your home as machine gun rounds echo in the distance. Then, there’s a loud boom.
That’s the nightmare scenario some Rhode Islanders awoke to Friday night, but don’t worry, Providence and Newport weren’t being attacked, they were the site of an urban warfare training exercise by the U.S. Army.
The Army was in Rhode Island conducting training exercises from June 5 to 11 and issued a statement telling residents that they might hear sounds of military weapons and aircraft as the Army works “to enhance their soldier skills by operating in various environments and settings.”
“Citizens in close proximity to the areas where the training will take place will be notified in person by police and/or military representatives prior to the training,” the Army said in a statement to the Providence Journal.
But it seems warnings didn’t reach some residents, who ran from their homes looking for answers amidst Friday night’s drill.
A video captured by RI Future shows a group of disgruntled Providence residents confronting an Army official after waking up to the sound of warfare.
Requests for comment to the Army’s press office were not immediately answered Monday.
“Listen, guys, can you talk to me? What’s the concern here?” An Army official who identifies himself only as “Mike” says to the group of concerned residents.
“We thought we were dying,” a woman yells.
Mike asks the residents if they were given notice — they weren’t, they say on the video.
“I loaded my shotgun and was getting ready to blow somebody’s head off,” a man on camera can be heard saying. “I look out my window and I see a helicopter in my front yard with people with machine guns running around grenades going off, what are you going to think?”
“I would have been upset by that too,” Mike says.
Other than the scare, residents had genuine concern for people suffering from mental health issues that might not have been prepared for the noise of the drill
“So stupid. And so insensitive to vets with PTSD, refugees who recently fled war-torn countries, and family pets. If you need to play war games, do it in a remote, sparsely populated area,” Russ Smith of Tiverton wrote on Facebook.