A St. Thomas man who was shot in Sub Base early on Aug. 30 has died of his injuries, the V.I. Police Department reported Tuesday. The attack is now being investigated as a homicide — the 27th one this year in the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the Source Homicide List.
The victim has been identified as Shemar Coward, 23, police said. He was taken by ambulance to Schneider Regional Medical Center after 911 was alerted to multiple shots being fired in the Sub Base area around 2:11 a.m. on Aug. 30. He died on Monday, police said.
Coward had a history of arrests, according to Superior Court records, including multiple gun charges after allegedly firing a machine gun at a police officer who was pursuing him in the area of First Avenue on St. Thomas in December 2021. Under a plea agreement he pleaded guilty to unauthorized possession of ammunition and was sentenced in December to a suspended sentence of two years in prison, and two years of probation.
However, according to Superior Court records, Coward was arrested again and was due to appear for a motions hearing on Oct. 4 on charges of possession of an unlicensed firearm and possession or sale of ammunition stemming from an incident during the St. Thomas Carnival J’ouvert celebration on April 27.
According to the probable cause fact sheet, he was smoking marijuana in public and when asked by police to stop, became angry and confrontational. When police searched his backpack, they found a black Glock 23 40-caliber handgun with one round in the chamber and a full 13-round magazine, $2,134 in cash, and a baggy containing a green leafy substance, the fact sheet stated.
Coward pleaded not guilty to the charges at his arraignment on May 12 and was on pre-trial release. In July, Superior Court Judge Kathleen Mackay denied the government’s motion to revoke his probation over his latest arrest, according to the court docket.
In June 2020, Coward faced charges of first-degree robbery, burglary, and possession of an unlicensed firearm in connection with the May 2019 gunpoint robbery of the Exquisite Barber Shop and Bar, located in Vitraco Park, but those charges were dismissed in June 2021, according to court records.
The V.I. Police Department continues to investigate Coward’s death. Anyone with information is urged to contact 911, the Criminal Investigation Bureau at 340-774-2211, ext. 5578, or Crime Stoppers V.I. at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).