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HomeNewsArchivesPOLICE BELIEVE MAN'S ASSAILANT IS MENTALLY ILL

POLICE BELIEVE MAN'S ASSAILANT IS MENTALLY ILL

July 15, 2002 – John Bentick, a Christiansted shop owner, died Monday in Juan F. Luis Hospital after being assaulted Friday night by a man described by police as homeless and apparently mentally ill.
Police said the assailant, Selvin "Shamba" Durant, entered Bentick's Liquor, a neighborhood store, and got into an argument with the clerk. When the owner, John Bentick, who was in the back of the shop, heard the altercation and came out to investigate, Durant struck him on the head, they said.
Witnesses said that Durant, 31, entered the store on the corner of King and Prince Streets around midnight Friday. Bentick was struck on the head by Durant and fell, the witnesses said.
Bentick was on life support early Monday when Lt. Gregory Bennerson described his condition as "very critical." He died at about 10:35 a.m., police later said.
Bennerson said on Monday morning that it had not been determined whether the severity of the man's head injuries was from being struck or from the fall.
Durant was arrested on Saturday afternoon and charged with first-degree assault, Bennerson said. Bail was set at $75,000 and he was remanded to the Golden Grove Correctional Facility. Bennerson said Durant would undergo psychiatric testing.
As a result of Bentick's death, Deputy Police Chief Angel Santos said Monday afternoon, "We are continuing our investigation, and it is expected that the charges will be upgraded."
Crimes caused by mentally unstable residents are of critical concern, Bennerson said. There is no residential mental facility in the Virgin Islands.
In May, Human Services Commissioner Sedonie Halbert asked the Senate Finance Committee for about $1.25 million in supplemental funding to pay for residential housing off island for 18 V.I. residents she described as severely disabled, both mentally and physically. The government has contracted a Texas institution to provide the patients residential, medical/psychiatric, clinical/social, education, vocational and other services plus clothing and personal hygiene items at a cost per day of $168 for adults, $277 for children and $357 for long-term adolescents.
In the territory, Bennerson said, without a treatment center, mental health services are like a revolving door; the mentally ill who are taken into custody are soon back out strolling the streets. In his opinion, "quite a few people" in the territory who are mentally ill and homeless are out on the streets.

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