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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, December 4, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesPsychiatrist Calls Daylight Shootings "Para-Terrorism"

Psychiatrist Calls Daylight Shootings "Para-Terrorism"

When you shoot a person, you kill one man, a Chinese proverb says, but you frighten a thousand. That’s the message Dr. Olaf Hendricks said was delivered Tuesday by a broad daylight shooting at the Tutu Park Mall parking lot that killed one man and left another injured.
Hendricks, a psychiatrist who works at Juan F. Luis Hospital and the Golden Grove Correctional Facility, said the incident this week, coupled with a similar public-place shooting in May on St. Croix, sends a chilling message to the territory.
“I call this para-terrorism,” he said. “The obvious take-home point is the message … ‘I can do whatever I want.’”
“You’ve seen us creep up that mountain of resistance, Hendricks said. "We didn’t have many shootings, then we’ve gone to shooting someone at 3 in the morning in the bushes. Now we’re doing it out in daylight in front of anybody.”
According to Hendricks, the “battlefield,” if you will, has gone from strictly the gang-related sites to anywhere.
“That’s a big message,” Hendricks said. “I’m coming on your turf.”
Hendricks said he doesn’t know details of either event, but noted similarities in both cases – Tuesday’s St. Thomas shooting and a shooting at the D.C. Canegata Ballpark May 22 on St. Croix that left three innocent bystanders injured.
In both cases the suspects were 17-year-olds who apparently saw someone they had grudges against and opened fire without any consideration for their location or who else might be there. In the St. Croix case, the suspect was supposedly under house arrest on St. Thomas for another violent crime when he allegedly fired at a rival on St. Croix.
“There is a rumor going around that some of these young people are trying to impress the older guys, the older gang members, doing these things in the open,” Hendricks said.
It’s hard to understand the behavior, he said. Even if you consider a suspect a sociopath, one who doesn’t recognize other people as having feelings or rights that need to be considered, taking the violent acts into broad daylight where anyone can see makes no sense. Even a sociopath cares for one person – himself – and ought to have some sense of self-preservation. Committing these brazen acts of violence in public, in broad daylight, only increases the likelihood of being caught.
“I can’t make sense out of that,” Hendricks said. “Something overrides that inhibition, that thing that says, ‘Don’t do it, you’ll get caught.”
And all the time, areas the community uses for recreation and commerce, areas where the public feels safe, become more and more proscribed. There are places – beaches and parks and streets – where people may still congregate during the day but stay away from at other times. There are fewer places where people can feel safe.
There are lots of smaller signs as well, and perhaps starting with those smaller steps is one way of getting a handle on the problem, he said. Because it’s not going to go away on its own.
The saturation patrols the police have been running are helpful, but there needs to be more, Hendricks said. Police should be pulling over every car with heavily tinted windows, for one small example. They are often used by gang members to hide their activities. And more to the point, they’re illegal in and of themselves. Cracking down on those heavily tinted windows would be one way to push back at gangs.
Community meetings are important as well, he said. Not for finger-pointing or finding someone to blame, but for community members to come together and find solutions.

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