86.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, June 12, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesSt. John Man Dies of Heart Attack Following Assault

St. John Man Dies of Heart Attack Following Assault

A 52-year-old St. John man died of a heart attack complicated by previous medical conditions, not the result of an assault that happened the day before in Cruz Bay, Police Department spokesman Melody Rames said Wednesday.

Rames declined to name the deceased, but St. John Administrator Leona Smith, who is a cousin, identified him as Austin “Butchie” Smith.

Rames said he was involved in an altercation with another man related to Smith at 4:15 p.m. on Dec. 15, as he was sitting in a chair at the entrance to Love City Beach Shop on Veste Gade in Cruz Bay.

“He said he was minding his own business when the suspect approached. He pushed him and caused him to fall off his chair,” Rames said.

The suspect allegedly punched him in the head several times before he took off running to board a boat headed to St. Thomas, Rames said.

Rames said the two men had an ongoing problem.

Smith suffered an abrasion to his knee, a swollen bottom lip, and complained of pain to his neck and head. Rames said he was treated at Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center before being released.

He was seen sitting along the road at 7:15 p.m., later that same day. The man who saw him took him home. Rames said the man also checked on him a half-hour later and he was asleep and breathing. Early the next day, he died.

Rames said the case is still under investigation, and no one has been arrested in connection with the assault.

It took six days for the Police Department to release information because it had to wait for the autopsy to be completed, Rames said.

Love City Beach Shop owner Kristin Cox said Smith was a happy person who liked to joke a lot.

“And he liked to talk a lot,” she said.

She said that when he got into an argument, it was because he felt strongly about something.

While Smith may have died of a heart attack, and a history of other underlying medical issues, the area where he was assaulted was recently the scene of a stabbing: a 27-year-old man was stabbed at the convenience store on Veste Gade on Nov. 28.

Veste Gade is the one-block-long street that runs from the side of the post office to the intersection where First Bank sits, and the recent trouble could possibly be linked to other problems.

Cox said the street has developed an unsavory atmosphere. She said people hang out because there is nowhere for them to go and they use her fence as a dinner table. She blames the police in part for not keeping a lid on it, but said trimming the trees would help with visibility.

She also said an unknown person is spreading rumors that the street is dangerous in what appears to be an attempt to divert cruise ship passengers in particular to a Cruz Bay shopping center.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.