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Saturday, June 22, 2024
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Bordeaux Killing Ends with Suspect's Death

The search for a missing man on the west end of St. Thomas ended up leading police on a search for his killer, who died Saturday afternoon after confronting the officers who had tracked him down.

The story started around 6 p.m. Friday, when police were called out to investigate a fire in the Bordeaux Farms area. Residents also reported having heard shots being fired a couple hours before the blaze erupted, and said that a man, later identified as 40-year-old James Richard Hodge, had gone missing.

While Fire Services personnel put the fire out, police — accompanied by a K-9 unit — began the search for Hodge, but as night set in and the terrain became more difficult, they suspended their efforts until the next morning, according to a V.I. Police Department release.

That same day, an arrest warrant was issued for the still unidentified suspect thought to be involved in Hodge’s death. The charges included unauthorized possession of an unlicensed firearm, brandishing of a deadly weapon, and possession of a machine gun for an unrelated incident.

When police returned Saturday morning, they were told by residents in the community that the man allegedly involved in Hodge’s disappearance had returned to the area, and was seen carrying a machine gun before he took off into the bush.

Police found Hodge’s body around 11:20 a.m. Saturday. There was "visible injury to Mr. Hodge," the VIPD release said, but an exact cause of death will be determined by the territory’s medical examiner.

Police clad in flak jackets went door to door in the Fortuna area, telling neighbors that the suspect was in the area, armed with a machine gun, and urging them to call 911 if they saw or heard anything in the least suspicious.

The suspected killer was seen by police around 3:35 p.m. Saturday walking on the road leading out of Bordeaux Farms. Police surrounded the area and ordered the man to stop, but ended up shooting him at least once after he reached for his firearm and dashed down the hill, the release said.

Emergency medical technicians were called to the scene while police ran after the man, who was later found. The suspect died of his injuries at the scene. He was found with a machine gun, according to the police.

The victim, James Hodge, was a well known member of the Bordeaux area farmers cooperative and was voted the farmer of the year at the 2009 Bordeaux Farmers Rastafari Agricultural and Cultural Food Fair. Known as “Kyie” to his fellow growers, he was married and the father of two young children.

He was a well known fixture at farmers markets, selling with papaya. bananas, avacados, and more. He came to St. Thomas from New York, where he lived with his mother, who was a St. Thomas native. Visits to the island inspired him to learn to grow food, he told a Source reporter when he received the honor.

One distraught member of the Bordeaux community who talked to the Source Saturday on condition of anonymity, said, “At least we gave him that honor and he knew how much we all loved him.”

As is the department’s policy, officers involved in the shooting have been put on administrative leave with pay by Assistant Police Commissioner Raymond L. Hyndman pending the outcome of an investigation being conducted by Major Crimes detectives and Internal Affairs Agents.

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