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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, July 22, 2024


May 13, 2002 – Police Commissioner Franz Christian called on churches, parents and educators on Monday to cooperate with authorities and to work with young boys in an effort to stop the violence that has left 12 people dead on St. Thomas so far this year — three times the number at this time last year.
Christian's comments were sparked by a spree of violence late Sunday that left three people dead and three others wounded in three separate shooting incidents.
"This lawlessness has gone way beyond our levels of tolerance," Christian said at a hastily called press conference Monday afternoon. "This community will not be held hostage by the acts of a few."
There have been 17 homicides so far this year territorywide, up from 10 a year ago. Most of the 12 killings on St. Thomas appear to have been attacks and retaliations among small gangs in various neighborhoods around the island, Christian said Monday.
Irad Frett Jr., 20, died about 5:30 p.m. Sunday after he was shot in the back near a cockfighting pit along Brookman Road. Police said on Monday they believe Frett was shot during an argument about one of the cockfights.
About two hours later, Dariel Wheatley, 41, was shot in the chest as she sat outside Forde's Laundromat on Garden Street, an area which has been the scene of two other homicides in the last year. Police described Wheatley as an innocent bystander. She died several hours later at Roy L. Schneider Hospital.
Police said they believe Wheatley was shot when an armed assailant in a gray Honda Accord opened fire on two men standing near her. According to Deputy Police Chief Theodore Carty, the shooting appeared to be in retaliation for the killing of Frett earlier in the day.
About 10:40 p.m. Sunday, Kintay Charles, 19, was fatally shot and three other youths were wounded when gunmen sprayed about 20 shots at them as they were playing dominoes on the front porch of a residence at the eastern end of St. Thomas.
Wendell Greene, 18, Peter Toussaint, 19, and Shalom Francis, 17, were wounded by the gunfire, police said.
Carty said this shooting was in apparent retaliation for the stabbing death of 17-year-old Alliston Francis two weeks ago near the Children's Village on the last night of V.I. Carnival
Sunday's violence came as the Police Department was into the second day of observing National Police Week with a series of activities and festivities throughout the territory.
Christian said investigations into all three of Sunday's homicides were moving forward, and that detectives were tracking down some strong leads, although no arrests had been made. He urged people who know something about the attacks — including the parents of the young men who were involved — to come forward with information.
As he has done in the past, Christian said that high crime rates in the Virgin Islands reflect social problems that must be addressed by churches, schools, parents and civic groups.
The Police Department will try to broaden the role of its school security unit so as to get a better handle on problems that could erupt into violence, Christian said.

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