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St. John’s Westin Resort Scene of Armed Robbery, Prompting Heightened Police Vigilance

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ST. JOHN — An armed robbery incident unfolded at St. John’s Westin Resort on Wednesday night, triggering concerns among locals and visitors amidst a reported rise in such brazen criminal activities on the island.

As per the Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD) report, the event transpired around 9:44 p.m. when guests were alighting from a vehicle, only to be interrupted by another vehicle blocking the road.

Emerging from the obstructing vehicle, three armed males confronted the driver and the passengers, demanding their belongings. Having accomplished their nefarious deed, the culprits vanished from the site in an unknown direction.

Reacting to this episode and a series of related crimes recently, St. Thomas/St. John’s Chief Steven Phillip conveyed a sense of urgency and assurance addressing the issue.

Chief Phillip confirmed the execution of a strategic plan aimed at curbing the ongoing robbery spree. “We’ve broadened our patrol operations to ensure enhanced visibility,” he stated, delivering a firm message to the residents: “These acts that instill fear within our community won’t be tolerated; the VIPD is dedicated to eliminating such threats posed by these criminals.”

The investigation has been assigned to the Criminal Investigation Bureau, with the VIPD earnestly soliciting any information that could aid in resolving this case. Individuals with insights or information regarding the incident are urged to reach out to 911, the Criminal Investigation Bureau at 340-693-8880 ext. 5207, or Crime Stoppers V.I. through their online portal.

In a separate incident last Friday, Coral Bay restaurant in St. John was the locale of another armed robbery, as confirmed by the V.I. Police Department. The crime reportedly occurred at 1 a.m. with two customers present.

Three armed males invaded the establishment, demanding money from the patrons. Upon receiving the cash, they swiftly exited the premises, their departure direction remaining unclear.

Fortunately, the event concluded with no reported injuries.

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Violent Encounter in St. Croix: Tenant Accused of Assaulting Maintenance Staff with Machete and Stun Gun

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A St. Croix woman, Christin Willie, faces serious legal challenges including felony assault charges after a disturbing incident involving physical attacks on maintenance staff within her apartment. The event unfolded at the David Hamilton Jackson Terrace, prompting police intervention on a Tuesday afternoon.

A senior employee of the Virgin Islands Housing Authority (VIHA) was overseeing urgent electrical repairs in Willie’s apartment following a health inspector’s warning about significant safety risks. Despite the short notice, which deviated from the usual 48-hour rule due to the urgency, Willie initially allowed the repairs.

However, the situation escalated when Willie, citing a need to pray, attempted to shut her apartment door. The VIHA supervisor, wary of being locked out, advised against it. As another maintenance worker arrived, tensions heightened; Willie pushed the supervisor out and subsequently retrieved a machete from her living room. In a violent outburst, she swung the machete, striking him with the flat side of the blade before he could disarm her.

Undeterred, Willie then grabbed a stun gun from the same table and assaulted the supervisor multiple times. Amidst her attacks, she bit his forearm, forcefully holding on until separated by his coworker who also experienced a shock from the stun gun. The altercation ended when Willie’s minor son intervened, calming his mother and allowing the workers to exit.

Upon police arrival, officers noted Willie’s distress and detected alcohol. After refusing to give a statement, she was arrested and charged with third-degree assault, simple assault and battery, and misuse of a dangerous weapon during a violent crime.

Initially unable to post the $25,000 bail, Willie was detained pending a court hearing. The subsequent day, Magistrate Ernest Morris Jr. granted her a pretrial release, though specifics remain undisclosed. Willie is set to appear in court on May 1, with a public defender assigned to her case.

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St. Thomas Resident Receives 43-Month Sentence for Fentanyl Trafficking

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A federal court in St. Thomas has handed down a 43-month prison sentence to 43-year-old Tahir Donadelle for his role in attempting to distribute fentanyl. Chief District Judge Robert Mollow delivered the sentence this past Monday, following Donadelle’s earlier admission of guilt.

United States Attorney Delia Smith highlighted the lethal nature of the opioid crisis in America, noting that fentanyl claimed over 80,000 lives in 2021. “While the Virgin Islands have been relatively shielded from the brunt of the opioid epidemic, this incident underscores our vulnerability,” Smith stated. She commended the Customs and Border Protection officers whose alertness thwarted the potential distribution of these dangerous substances.

The charges stem from an incident on September 8, 2022, when Donadelle, arriving from Atlanta at Cyril E. King Airport, was subject to a random luggage inspection by Customs and Border Protection. The search revealed 14 vacuum-sealed packages in his bags, three of which contained 964 fentanyl pills marked with an “M” on one side and “30” on the other, while the rest held marijuana.

This case is not isolated in its severity; similar sentences have been meted out recently. In 2023, Elijah Hakim received an 85-month sentence for a related conviction. That same year, the Virgin Islands Police Department linked three deaths directly to fentanyl, underscoring its deadly presence even with relatively few cases locally.

Roberto Vaquero, Director of Field Operations for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, expressed his concerns about fentanyl’s dangers. “Fentanyl is among the most lethal drug threats to our nation. Our diligent officers are crucial to preventing this toxin from penetrating our borders and harming our communities,” he said.

The successful prosecution of Donadelle, led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyle Payne, was a collaborative effort involving Homeland Security Investigations, Customs and Border Protection, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Homeland Security Investigations Assistant Special Agent in Charge Eugene Thomas emphasized the community’s gain from such vigilant enforcement efforts against drug smuggling in the territory.

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St. Croix Man Arrested Following Alleged Firearm Incident and Dispute Over Relationship

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ST. CROIX — Daniel Hernandez faces serious felony charges following an incident where he allegedly fired a weapon during a confrontation that stemmed from a romantic dispute.

Late in the evening on April 13, just before 10:30 p.m., a distress call was made to 911 by a man reporting gunfire at his home in Frederiksted. He claimed that Daniel Hernandez, whom he identified as his girlfriend’s husband, arrived at his Estate Carlton residence, leading to a physical altercation. The caller reported that after he and his girlfriend retreated inside, Hernandez fired a shot through the glass door and reached in to unlock it, subsequently forcing his wife to leave with him under threat of violence.

According to the caller, Hernandez and his wife left the scene in his vehicle. The woman contacted 911 from a hotel several hours later to report her whereabouts. Upon arriving at the hotel, officers detained Hernandez without incident and discovered ammunition in his vehicle.

During the investigation, the woman provided a different perspective, indicating she was picked up by Hernandez after work, had dinner, and then went to a hotel to make a reservation. She recounted that she went to her boyfriend’s residence to avoid her husband seeing her there, but Hernandez unexpectedly showed up, leading to the altercation.

The woman expressed her intention to not remain with her boyfriend, describing ongoing harassment and assaults from him. She returned to the apartment to preempt further conflicts, which escalated when both men confronted each other.

Police found physical evidence of the shooting at the boyfriend’s home, including a bullet hole through a door. Hernandez, however, denied possessing or firing a gun. Despite his denial and lack of a gun license, the visible injuries to all parties and the forensic evidence led to his arrest on multiple charges, including home invasion, burglary, illegal possession of a firearm, assault, property destruction, and disturbing the peace.

After appearing in court before Magistrate Yolan Brow Ross, Hernandez’s initial charges were adjusted following a motion from the prosecution to amend the complaint, which was unopposed by the defense. The judge set bail at $100,000, with a portion paid in cash and the remainder secured through a bond.

Daniel Hernandez is slated to return to court on May 1 for further proceedings in this complex case.

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