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Howell Thanks Medical Staff, Details Shooting and Injuries

Chief Christopher Howell details the Saturday shooting that left him and Officer Elsworth Jones hospitalized (Photo courtesy of the V.I. Police Department).When he was shot in the line of duty Saturday night, St. Croix Police Chief Christopher Howell’s wounds were more serious than the public was led to believe. In fact, he could have lost his life, he said Wednesday at a press conference at the V.I. Police Department Rainbow Command Complex.

Howell told reporters his injuries had been life-threatening, but thanks to what he called outstanding work by the medical staff at Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital he expects to make a full recovery. During the incident, a tourniquet was applied to Chief Howell’s arm to prevent him from bleeding to death, he said.

Joining the chief at the press conference was Officer Elsworth Jones, who was also shot in the ambush after responding to an armed robbery at a Cane Bay restaurant Saturday.

At the press conference, the chief recounted the events of Saturday night’s shooting. He and Jones responded to a report of a robbery in progress, he said, and while en route they saw what they believed to be a suspect vehicle fleeing the scene at high speed. They pursued the car and saw it veer off the main road leading toward Mon Bijou.

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The officers retraced their path, but found themselves under fire from gunmen who were lying in wait off the side of the road. Several rounds pierced the vehicle, eventually rendering it powerless to drive, and both policemen were struck by bullets.

Howell put the police cruiser in neutral and coasted down the hill to escape the line of fire, he said. Jones, wounded in the face, got out of the car, pulled his weapon and protected the chief until backup arrived, Howell said.

“There is a misconception that this event may have weakened the VIPD, and I am here to tell you that it has not—it has actually empowered us. We’re still here and we’re not going anywhere,” Howell said.

He thanked the doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians and other hospital employees, not just for the expert care, but what he called the hard work they do every day.

Deputy Chief of Police James Parris was also at the press conference.

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