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Gunshots In Contant Rattle Minors Playing Steelpan In Church; Two Men Sustain Multiple Gunshot Wounds

Crime / News / Virgin Islands / July 28, 2017

ST. THOMAS — Two videos are circulating in the territory showing children peacefully playing steelpan in a Weslyan church in Contant Thursday evening, when suddenly the loud sound of gunshots rattle the kids, sending them — as well as adults in the building — ducking for cover, confused as to what was happening.

The incident, which occurred at about 6:45 p.m. in Contant according to V.I.P.D. Public Information Officer Glen Dratte, left two male victims with multiple gunshot wounds, with one being kept for medical treatment while the other was treated and released.

The V.I.P.D. gave little info as to how the incident occurred, but the force said it was investigating the matter.

The escalation in violence — four people, all young men, have died through gun violence in St. Thomas in the past week — represents the first trial for Winsbut McFarland, who was appointed territorial chief of police by Governor Kenneth Mapp on Monday.

The move by Mr. Mapp is part of the administration’s initiative to clamp down on crime, and Chief McFarland’s efforts have proven effective on St. Croix.

But whether the lauded chief will find success in St. Thomas — where he is lesser known and where the dynamics are different, will take months — if not well over a year — to determine.

The V.I.P.D. will be investing in license plate readers as well as facial recognition systems to better fight crime, Mr. Mapp revealed on Monday. The announcement is part of the V.I.P.D. and the New York Police Department’s budding partnership, which Mr. Mapp hopes to extend.

In August, the governor will host the N.Y.P.D. commissioner, where the relationship between the two departments will be formally explained to residents of the territory. Mr. Mapp and the N.Y.P.D. commissioner will discuss initiatives between the departments, how the N.Y.P.D. will continue in its role of mentoring the V.I.P.D. in terms of strengthening its capacity and ensuring that training and professional development continue, which Mr. Mapp says is part of the V.I.P.D.’s strategy to exit the consent decree. The end goal, Mr. Mapp said, is to have a “full fledged modern police department.”

The V.I.P.D. is asking anyone with information on Thursday’s shooting to call 340-774-2211, or send your anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers USVI here.

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Letter To The Editor | Tourism: An Entire Economy, Wiped Out In Ten Minutes

For the past century, and perhaps more, tourism has helped the Caribbean build impressive economies. The industry has allowed...

July 28, 2017