August 16, 2005 – The afternoon was quiet and serene. Clouds hung low in the sky. Peacocks walked aimlessly on the Country Day School campus grounds, occasionally pecking for insects. A family of joggers ran laps around the dewy soccer field. It was hard to imagine that only hours before a man nearly lost his life after being riddled with four gunshot wounds to his body.
Around 7:30 a.m., a CDS maintenance man in his mid-20s arrived on campus to begin his daily tasks. Two masked gunmen brandishing a weapon jumped out of the bushes and opened fire. The maintenance man sustained four gunshot wounds to his body and was rushed to the Juan F. Luis Hospital, where he underwent life-saving surgery. He is presently in critical but stable condition, according to James Sadler, St. Croix Country Day School headmaster.
"Our school is a community. We teach our children to respect everyone. It's tragic when that feeling is wrenched away by an act of violence," Sadler said Monday afternoon as he talked about the early-morning shooting on his campus.
Sadler said the man had been employed at CDS since 2002. Although he declined to reveal the victim's name, he did say the victim was "a family man with a wife and a child." Sadler also suggested that the victim might not have been involved in any criminal activity, rather, that he may have had evidence against others that put him in danger.
"This was not a robbery or a random act," Sadler said.
Sadler said the incident is a reflection of the society we live in today. "Our school community is aware this was not an attack against the school; it represents the tragic violence of young men shooting young men all over," Sadler said. "We are outraged that it happens anywhere and are outraged that it happened here."
Sadler said he hopes this tragedy will spur the community to take a stand against violence.
CDS, a multi-cultural college preparatory school founded in 1964 on St. Croix, will begin its new school year August 28. Four hundred and ninety students are enrolled for the new school year. Sadler said the school will activate its crisis-management plan to deal with any problems the staff or students may have when they get back to school. "We need to make sure people's emotions are dealt with," Sadler said, adding that the school has protocols in place to address crisis situations.
According to Sgt. Thomas Hannah, police spokesperson, the investigation is ongoing. As usual, the police are appealing to anyone who has information on this crime to contact the Criminal Investigation Bureau at 778-2211 extension 6031 or 6033, the crime hotline at 778-4956 or 911.
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