VIPD Arrest Three in Connection With Weekend Shooting Spree

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V.I. Police Department officials arrested two St. John men and a teenager allegedly involved in a series of related shootings on the weekend of April 7 through April 9.

The weekend gunfights began on Friday, April 7, when a 16-year-old boy was shot in the hand. On the following night, Saturday, April 8, an 18-year-old Gift Hill man was shot in the back in a drive-by shooting in front of Meada’s Plaza in Cruz Bay. The gunshots continued on Sunday evening, April 9, when three men sustained minor injuries from a drive-by shooting in Coral Bay.

Denzil Stevens, Mekel Blash Arrested
Denzil Stevens, 22, of Estate Carolina, was arrested on Saturday, April 15, and charged with first-degree assault, mayhem, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and possession of a dangerous weapon in the commission of a crime of violence stemming from the April 8 drive-by shooting in Cruz Bay.

Mekel Blash, 18, of Estate Rendezvous, was also arrested on April 15 in relation to the same April 8 shooting. Blash was charged with conspiracy to commit a first-degree assault, aiding and abetting, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and being an accessory after the fact.

Flight Risk, Danger to Community
Both men were advised of their rights on Tuesday, April 18, where Superior Court Judge Leon Kendall found probable cause to uphold the charges.

Kendall set bail for Stevens and Blash on Wednesday, April 19. He ruled Stevens, a St. Kitts-native, a flight risk and set a $100,000 surety bond and electronic monitoring for his release. Kendall ruled Blash a danger to the community and set a $75,000 surety bond and electronic monitoring for his release.

The men will be arraigned on Thursday, May 4, at 9 a.m.

16-year-old Hard Labor Boy Arrested
A 16-year-old Estate Hard Labor youth was also arrested on April 15. He was charged with conspiracy to commit a first-degree assault, mayhem, misprison of a felony, as a principle in connection with the assault, and being an accessory after the fact, in relation to the April 8 shooting. The teenager is being held at the Youth Rehabilitation Center on St. Croix and his case will go to Family Court.

The weekend gunfights began on Friday, April 7, when an 18-year-old Gift Hill man approached a 16-year-old who was sitting with a group of people in Estate Enighed, according to VIPD officials. The 18-year-old, whose name police are not releasing at this time, shot the 16-year-old in the hand.

Retaliation Shootings
The youth was treated for a gunshot wound to his finger at Schneider Regional Medical Center. He was not involved in the following two drive-by shootings which occurred later in the weekend which police believe to be retaliation for the April 7 shooting, according to VIPD officials.

On Saturday night, April 8, the 18-year-old Gift Hill man—who was involved in the Friday night shooting—was himself shot around 11:30 p.m. outside of Meada’s Plaza in Cruz Bay. He was treated at Schneider Regional Medical Center for a gunshot wound to his back that damaged his kidney and lower intestine, according to a published report.

The Gift Hill man—who said a man fired a shotgun at him from a van—identified Stevens as the shooter, Blash as a passenger in the vehicle and the 16-year-old Hard Labor boy as the driver, according to VIPD officials.

Accessory Tried as Perpetrator
The VIPD is bringing serious charges against the 16-year-old boy arrested along with Stevens and Blash who is accused of driving the vehicle involved in the drive-by shooting.

“The individual had full knowledge that a crime was about to be committed and did nothing to prevent it,” said VIPD

spokesperson Sgt. Thomas Hannah. “He knew that the crime occurred and did not report it. As principle, he is being charged as if he actually did the shooting.”

All three individuals are currently being charged with first degree assault, but the charges could be raised to attempted murder, according to Hannah.

“Right now they are charged with first-degree assault,” he said. “Once the cases are reviewed by the Attorney General’s Office, they can lift the charges to attempted murder. But we’ll have to wait and see.”

Coral Bay Shooting Related?
At 11 p.m. on Sunday, April 9, another drive-by shooting occur-red, this time in Coral Bay. Some-one drove up to a shanty in the Spring Garden section of Coral Bay and fired a shotgun loaded with buckshot at three men inside the one-room home.

All three men sustained pellet wounds in the attack, which police believe was a possible retaliation for the April 8 shooting, Hannah explained.

“The Sunday night shooting might be related, but we haven’t put all of the pieces together yet,” he said. “At the present time there is an active investigation and we are proceeding with the assumption that all of the shootings are related in some way.”

VIPD officials continue to investigate the shootings, and ask for the public’s assistance. Anyone with information should call the Leander Jurgen Command at 693-8880. Any information will be held in the strictest of confidence, according to VIPD Commissioner Elton Lewis.