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Police Report Seven Arrests, Cite Community Help

Aug. 16, 2004 – The Police Department is on a roll with seven recent arrests, and officers hope to keep that momentum going to bring two more suspects to justice.
Police officials called a press conference at the Mars Hill complex on Monday morning to discuss the arrests, emphasize what part the community played in them, and get out the word on two suspects in a number of other recent crimes.
Sgt. Thomas Hannah, police public information officer, said victims and witnesses agreed in their descriptions in several crime incidents: Both subjects are black males. One is tall, maybe 6 feet 2. The other is shorter, maybe 5 feet 9. The tall suspect has a dark complexion while the shorter one is light skinned and has tattoos. Hannah asked that anyone who sees a pair matching that description and acting suspiciously call the police.
Three incidents over the weekend might be connected to the suspects, he said.
– On Sunday, a little after 9 a.m., a woman opening a restaurant on the Christiansted boardwalk was confronted by two men, one armed with a shotgun, when she came out of the storeroom. They made off with an undisclosed amount of cash. The woman was unharmed.
– On Saturday, about 10:20 p.m., a 27-year-old man reported being confronted by two men as he was leaving a restaurant in La Reine. The men stole his car.
– On Saturday morning, a 42-year-old Constitution Hill woman was taking a visitor to Tide Pool Beach in Frederiksted. They reported being confronted by two knife-wielding black men who stole their purses and jewelry, then fled in the victims' Jeep Wrangler.
Hannah said the suspects in these cases might also be tied to earlier crimes, including two robberies on Queen Street in Frederiksted.
A fourth incident over the weekend did not appear to have involved the two suspects. Victor Cruz Jr., 19, was shot near Building 8 in Harrington Court at 10:30 p.m. Sunday. Hannah said the victim was in stable condition and that a 17-year-old suspect had turned himself in to police.
The most recent arrest was Monday morning, of Charlesworth Gonsalves Jr. According to Police Commissioner Elton Lewis, Gonsalves is charged with removing a vehicle identification number and placing it on a stolen vehicle. Unable to post a $25,000 bond set by Judge Daryl Donohue, Gonsalves was remanded to Golden Grove Correctional Facility.
The other six suspects had been in jail over the weekend; the outcomes of their bond hearings were not known Monday at noon.
– David Brady, 19, and Thomas Encarnacion, 20, both of Nicasio Nico housing community, were arrested around 6 a.m. Saturday at their homes in connection with the shootings of two men, one of whom died, on Aug. 8 at the housing community in La Grande Princesse. They were charged with first-degree murder in the death of Jamal Coperman, 21, and with first-degree assault, reckless endangerment and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Hannah said the investigation did not take on steam until community members came forward with information. He said, "There are only 500 of us in the police department; there are 115,000 citizens. You have a lot more eyes than we do."
– Jonathan Soto and Miguel Ayala were arrested in a department-coordinated effort that Hannah referred to as Operation Roundup. They were charged in connection with a robbery at a car wash in Estate Glynn.
– Edith Williams, 33, of Mutual Homes housing community, was arrested and charged with perjury for allegedly giving false information to Territorial Court.
– David Mason was arrested in connection with a burglary in Estate Barren Spot.
St. Croix Deputy Policie Chief Herminio Velazquez said the arrests should send a message to criminals: "Once we get information about you, the V.I. Police Department will be on your tail."

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