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St. Croix Resident Arrested for Assaulting Minors and Discharging Firearm

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Mugshot of Elroy Pedro, provided by the Virgin Islands Police Department.

In a recent incident on St. Croix, Elroy Pedro, a resident of Hospital Street in Frederiksted, is now facing serious charges including felony assault. This follows his admission of discharging a firearm with the intent to intimidate two individuals trespassing on his property.

The event unfolded last Thursday, January 11, when police were called to Hospital Street due to reports of gunfire. During their investigation, Pedro approached the officers, confessing he was responsible for the shots. According to Pedro, he witnessed two young males crossing through his property from his back porch. He warned them against using his yard as a passageway, but they indicated they would return the same way. Anticipating their return, Pedro armed himself with a firearm and a 2×2 piece of wood.

As the two returned, Pedro confronted them. A physical altercation ensued when one of the individuals appeared confrontational, as described in court documents. In response, Pedro fired shots into the air and towards the ground, which led to the individuals fleeing the scene.

Police discovered evidence including a hair pick and ammunition near the area where Pedro waited. Pedro voluntarily surrendered his licensed 9mm Smith & Wesson firearm to the authorities.

Further investigation revealed that the two individuals were minors. A neighbor and her daughter witnessed Pedro aiming at one of the boys and heard a gunshot as the youth fled. The mother of the two boys, aged 14 and 12, later brought them to provide statements at the police station. The brothers described walking through Pedro’s yard, being confronted by him wielding a stick, and a subsequent altercation that escalated when Pedro retrieved a firearm.

Surveillance footage obtained by the police corroborated the minors’ account, showing Pedro striking one of the boys with the piece of wood and chasing the other while firing shots.

Pedro was initially arrested and charged with third-degree assault. Judge Harold Willocks subsequently reduced his bail from $25,000 to $7,500, allowing for his release before his first court appearance. However, at a subsequent hearing, Magistrate Ernest Morris Jr. found probable cause for additional charges, including attempted murder, child abuse, aggravated assault and battery, brandishing a weapon, and disturbing the peace. Pedro’s bail was readjusted to $75,000, with a $7,500 property bond allowed for pre-trial release.

Pedro is scheduled for arraignment on January 31, where he will face these serious allegations in court.

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Crime

Daring Nighttime Maritime Operation Foiled by CBP Agents

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In a bold effort thwarted by vigilant Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials, a man now faces charges in the Virgin Islands District Court following a thwarted human smuggling operation from Tortola to St. John.

The drama unfolded on the night of February 23, near the serene Leinster Bay in St. John. CBP Marine Interdiction Agents, during their coastal patrol, detected an unlit boat making its secretive journey from the shores of Tortola. Employing night vision technology, the agents meticulously tracked the vessel as it stealthily crossed international waters, arriving in the tranquil vicinity of Leinster Bay, near the historic Annaberg ruins, under the cloak of darkness.

The boat’s attempt to slip back to Tortola was abruptly halted when the agents, revealing their presence with activated lights and sirens, demanded the vessel to stop. Lorenzo Charles, the captain hailing from St. Vincent & the Grenadines, was apprehended, and the boat was seized and towed to St. Thomas.

The capture revealed Charles and five passengers aboard: three individuals from India, including a minor, an Argentinian, and a Dominican Republic national. It was determined that none were U.S. citizens, having entered the country without authorization.

Charles promptly acknowledged his wrongdoing upon interrogation, confessing to a Homeland Security Investigations special agent about the illicit nature of his actions. He disclosed a desperate attempt to settle a $4000 debt by performing the smuggling operation, arranged after a mysterious lender demanded repayment.

According to Charles, the operation was meticulously planned, with the embarkation from Tortola’s West End under the guidance of his creditor, who loaded the five passengers onto his vessel. Despite lacking GPS equipment, Charles was confident in his navigational skills, having observed St. John from Tortola. He admitted to previously smuggling individuals into the U.S. and hoped this operation would extinguish his remaining debt.

The passengers shared a different story, claiming payment to another for their transport from Tortola to St. John, highlighting the complex web of human smuggling operations.

A detention hearing for Charles is scheduled with U.S. Magistrate Ruth Miller. Prosecutors advocate for his detention, citing a significant flight risk, though they remain open to conditional pre-trial release given the identification of a reliable third-party custodian.

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Crime

Law Enforcement Swiftly Captures Suspect in Christiansted Robbery Spree

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Following a series of robbery incidents in Christiansted on February 20, the Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD) demonstrated remarkable efficiency by arresting 28-year-old Koi Thomas. The alarming events, reported to the emergency services in close succession at approximately 10:45 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., prompted a swift and thorough response from the VIPD’s Criminal Investigation Bureau detectives.

Eyewitness accounts from the victims were crucial in the investigation, enabling law enforcement to quickly gather surveillance footage pinpointing Thomas as the perpetrator. In a fortunate turn of events, Thomas had been apprehended earlier the same day on unrelated larceny charges in the Gallows Bay area, and was already under detention at the John Bell Correctional Facility.

Detectives visited the correctional facility on February 22, where they officially charged Thomas with two counts of third-degree robbery. Subsequently, Thomas was processed at the Wilbur H. Francis Command Police Station, with his bail determined at $25,000.

Despite Thomas’s court hearing being scheduled for the following Friday, information pertaining to his legal proceedings had yet to be disclosed publicly by Sunday. This arrest underscores the vigilance and dedication of the Virgin Islands law enforcement in maintaining public safety and swiftly addressing criminal activities.

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Crime

Tragic Shooting in St. Thomas Leaves Young Man Dead

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A tragic incident unfolded in the Bovoni Housing Community of St. Thomas late on Thursday night, claiming the life of a young resident. Omar K. Fontaine, a 20-year-old local, fell victim to a lethal shooting, succumbing to multiple gunshot wounds.

The incident was detected by the ShotSpotter Detection System, which notified the V.I. Police Department of the gunfire at precisely 11:11 p.m. Officers from the Mariel C. Newton Command swiftly responded to the alert and discovered Fontaine unresponsive. Despite the prompt arrival of emergency medical technicians, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Fontaine’s untimely death has sparked a thorough investigation by the Major Crimes Unit of the VIPD, which is determined to bring those responsible to justice. The police are appealing to the community for assistance, encouraging anyone with information to step forward. Contributions can be made directly to the Major Crimes Unit at 340-642-8449, through a call to 911, or by submitting tips anonymously via Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8476 or online through their tip form.

This devastating event underscores the urgent need for community cooperation and vigilance in combating violence and safeguarding our neighborhoods.

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