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HomeNewsLocal newsMan Charged With DUI Child Abuse, Two Others With Illegal Guns

Man Charged With DUI Child Abuse, Two Others With Illegal Guns

A man who allegedly drunkenly drove into an oncoming boat trailer was charged with child abuse because his children were in the car at the time. (Shutterstock)

Police on St. Croix charged two men with illegal gun possession and another with child abuse for allegedly driving with his two small children while too drunk to walk straight.

Around 4:40 Wednesday afternoon, Derrick R. Harris was driving eastbound on Queen Mary Highway when his 2021 Toyota Tacoma veered into the right lane and struck the boat trailer and boat of a truck headed in the opposite direction, according to court records filed Thursday.

Virgin Islands Police Officers on the scene said Harris smelled strongly of alcohol.

“He kept repeating to me that he was from New York and he was making a left turn to go home. He was not listening to any of my verbal commands. I observed Mr. Derrick R. Harris staggering as he exited his vehicle, and he was unable to maintain his balance. I also observed that Mr. Derrick R. Harris’ eyes were red and watery looking. I asked him if he was drinking and Mr. Derrick R. Harris responded, “I had one cocktail to drink at the beach,” police said in their charging documents filed with the Superior Court.

Harris failed three field sobriety tests and refused a breathalyzer, police said.

Harris’ two children were in his vehicle with him — one six years old and the other one year, seven months.

Police charged Harris with driving under the influence of intoxicants, neglectful driving, and child abuse.

The Virgin Islands Code defines Child Abuse as such: “Any person who abuses a child, or who knowingly or recklessly causes a child to suffer physical, mental or emotional injury, or who knowingly or recklessly causes a child to be placed in a situation where it is reasonably foreseeable that a child may suffer physical, mental or emotional injury or be deprived of any of the basic necessities of life, shall be punished by a fine of not less than $500, or by imprisonment of not more than 20 years, or both.”

Police said Harris had a previous DUI conviction.

About an hour after Harris’s arrest, police were summoned to a fight in Martha’s Bar. Amongst the shouting men who allegedly threatened each other with firearms was Richard Pagan Sr.

Pagan allegedly showed the handgun in his waistband to police and acknowledged he did not have a local permit but did have a Florida gun license. Pagan also said he’d got the Springfield Armory XDS .45 Caliber handgun from his son, a Superior Court marshal, according to police, who explained territorial gun laws did not allow for unregistered transfers of weapons.

Pagan Sr. was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Also on Wednesday, a Superior Court judge issued an arrest warrant for Joannes Francois for alleged unauthorized use of a vehicle. Police said they found Francois in a Croixville apartment in possession of a handgun and at least 62 rounds of live ammunition. He was charged with unlawfully carrying a firearm and unlawfully possessing a firearm and ammunition. Francois has prior felony convictions for rape in 2012, assault in 2014, burglary related to domestic violence in 2015, and possession of an unlicensed firearm in 2016, according to court records.

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