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Licensed Gun Owner Charged With Murder

A St. Thomas man is being held on a quarter-million dollars bail after he allegedly shot and killed the elderly relative of his female companion with a licensed firearm. The defendant made his initial appearance in Superior Court Magistrate’s Division on Monday, following his arrest over the weekend.

Information found in documents filed by police with the court says 50-year-old Richard Dangleben Jr. drew a firearm and shot Keith Alfonso Jennings, 68. Investigators said the wounded Jennings was discovered by a female relative who had warned him to stay away from her boyfriend.

The boyfriend she warned him about, according to police, was Dangleben. A call was placed to the 911 emergency call center about shots fired in the area of Hospital Ground on Friday afternoon. “Central Dispatch relayed that the male victim was transported to Schneider Regional Medical Center via private vehicle where he subsequently succumbed from his injuries,” said Detective Shenika Simon.

Police made contact with the alleged assailant, and found him standing near a green-colored vehicle, stained with blood. Dangleben was taken to the Richard Callwood Police Command on Veterans Drive for an interview. Investigators also canvassed the area and spoke to a number of witnesses who said they heard gunshots.

One of the witnesses was a female relative who told authorities that she saw the victim in the area, caring for some dogs. When they saw each other, the witness told police that Jennings said he was going to find Dangleben and tell him to leave her alone.

But the witness told him not to. “Leave him alone. He is ignorant,” she said.

At the police station, the accused gunman said he was working when a man he didn’t know approached him with a rock in his hand. “I’m going to kill you for my sister,” Dangleben told investigators the stranger said to him.

After warning Jennings to leave, the accused said he drew his licensed firearm and shot the victim. When the interview was done, authorities arrested Dangleben and charged him with first- and second-degree murder, assault, voluntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, and use of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.

St. Thomas-St. John District Police Chief Steven Phillip said having a licensed gun does not give citizens an automatic license to kill. “No, of course not,” Phillip said. “If you have a firearm, you have to be justified in what you’re doing.”

If a licensed gun owner finds themselves in a situation where they can retreat or if there is no immediate threat of life-threatening harm, they face consequences for firing a weapon, the chief said.

At an Advice of Rights hearing held Monday, Superior Court Magistrate Paula Norkadis upheld all of the charges and set bail for Dangleben at $250,000 cash. At that hearing, the defendant’s rap sheet for previous assaults came up.

Dangleben is scheduled to appear at an arraignment hearing on March 17.

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