A decades-long business dispute erupted in violence when barge company owner Llewellyn T. Sewer punched out a front window of the St. John Tradewinds Newspaper business office at approximately 9:30 a.m. on Friday morning, October 14.
Sewer, an owner of Republic Barge Service, punched through the glass of a front window moments after the attorney for the newspaper, A.J. Weiss of St. Thomas, had photographed Sewer directing the cleanup of abandoned vehicles and oil barrels behind the Tradewinds building, according to witnesses.
Sewer is one of five heirs of the late St. John businessman Llewellyn Adrian Sewer, who died in 1994, and executor of his fathers estate.
The Estate of Llewllyn A. Sewer is the majority stockholder in Sewer Enterprises LTD. which owns the Tradewinds building and a 100-year lease on surrounding property, including the Tamarind Inn. The property is owned by the Estate of Hulda Sewer, mother of Llewellyn A. Sewer, who died in 1996.
The other stockholder in the corporation is part-time St. John resident Joan C. Oat. Oat, 79, is seeking the dissolution of the corporation and sale of its assets in a five-year U.S. District Court action. The Oat family, which also owns the newspaper, is represented in the action by Atty. Weiss.
I heard something hit the window in my back office, which prompted me to look out the window, said Tradewinds publisher, MaLinda Nelson. When I looked out the window, I saw Lew Sewer who appeared to be angry and disturbed. I then saw him charge to the front of the building, Nelson continued, adding she immediately went to the front of the office to lock the door. I locked the door and saw Lew through the front windows come toward the front of the office, and I immediately started to pull the shades down. As Nelson pulled the second shade down, she said Sewer threw his arm back and punched through the window. He punched at me through the window, breaking the glass, said Nelson. I was very startled and frightened and told one of my employees to call 911.
After V.I.P.D. Officers Call-wood and Vincent arrived at the scene, they took a statement from an employee who witnessed the incident and escorted Nelson to Leander Jurgen Command.
While Nelson was still at Leander Jurgen Command with the investigating officer, Sewer was released and returned to the scene, according to the all-female staff of the newspaper.
The reporters said they saw Sewer peering in the broken window with a neighboring business owner, taking pictures of the broken glass with a disposable camera and stating that the window must have been broken from inside of the office, not the outside.
The three employees said they became frightened, called the police to come to the scene and left the building to take refuge next door at the Tamarind Inn until police arrived.
There was no record of the second phone call requesting police assistance on the St. John police stations blotter. When VIPD Off. Callwood returned to Tradewinds with Off. Kent Hodge and Sgt. Felix-Penn a short time later, they refused to take statements from the employees and chastised them for sweeping up broken glass and tampering with evidence.
Dont tell me how to do my job, VIPD Officer Hodge told Tradewinds Attorney Weiss who had returned to the scene. Off. Hodge and Sgt. Felix-Penn both said the glass could have been broken from the inside. A forensic officer arrived a short time later to collect evidence and took four pictures.
The VIPD officers were discourteous to the victims, according to the those at the scene.
It is particularly troubling that our police would be uninterested in eyewitness statements, said Atty. Weiss. This type of criminal activity should not be tolerated.
VIPD Deputy Chief Angelo Hill refused to make a statement regarding the incident. I will not make a statement if you want to, you can call Sgt. Hannah, Hill told St. John Tradewinds Newspaper. VIPD public information officer Sgt. Thomas Hannah did not return calls from St. John Tradewinds Newspaper.