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Suspect in St. Croix Shooting Case Voluntarily Surrenders, Faces Attempted Murder Charges

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The Virgin Islands Police Department Releases Image of Valatina Sanchez Following Her Arrest

In a significant development on St. Croix, the Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD) disclosed that Valatina Sanchez, a 30-year-old woman implicated in a serious shooting incident, has voluntarily turned herself into authorities. Sanchez, now facing charges including attempted murder, presented herself to law enforcement, demonstrating her willingness to engage with the legal process.

Upon receiving a tip through the 911 Emergency Call Center about Sanchez’s intentions to surrender, officers swiftly located her in the Estate Princesse area of St. Croix. Her apprehension led to several serious charges being levied against her, encompassing first-degree attempted murder, assault, reckless endangerment, and firearms offenses, marking a critical juncture in this case.

Sanchez, who refrained from commenting during her arrest, has been unable to post the $100,000 bail, resulting in her confinement at the John Bell Correctional Facility. A key proceeding, her advice of rights hearing, is set for February 8 at the Superior Court of St. Croix, which could provide further insights into this case.

This arrest stems from a distressing event on January 31, reported via multiple calls to the 911 Emergency Call Center about a male victim with gunshot wounds near Catherine’s Rest on Queen Mary Highway. Initially believed to have taken place in Questa Verde, the incident necessitated urgent medical attention for the victim at Juan F. Luis Hospital.

Investigators, guided by witness accounts, pinpointed Sanchez as the alleged assailant, accusing her of multiple gunshots towards the victim. An exhaustive search ensued across the island, culminating in Sanchez’s decision to surrender, a move that has propelled the investigation forward.

As the case unfolds, with ongoing investigations, the legal system is prepared to reveal additional details, ensuring that justice is pursued meticulously.

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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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