Aug. 23, 2006 — A 33-year-old Chicago man, allegedly attacked Aug. 10 by a shovel-wielding youth during a visit to St. John for a friend's wedding, has vowed to take his case to the national media if the police don't find the perpetrators.
Don Calloway said Wednesday that he wants to warn tourists not to visit St. John because it isn't safe.
"If tourism is a money-making machine, why aren't you [V.I. officials] protecting it with everything you've got," Calloway said. However, he added, "I'm not going to contact the national media until I see how this unfolds," he said by phone.
He said he also hopes "natives" will come forward with some information if he tells his story to the local media.
Steve Bornn, marketing director at the Tourism Department, said the incident is a police matter that is currently under investigation. "We are sorry," he said.
When asked if he was concerned about the possible impact on the territory's tourism image, Bornn said it doesn't take an unfortunate crime for him to be concerned about the image.
Calloway said he has already contacted a variety of local media outlets, written to numerous public officials and complained in writing to the Westin Resort and Villas, where he was a guest.
St. John Administrator Julien Harley said that he didn't care if it was a tourist or resident that was attacked, it shouldn't happen. "But I'm sorry the guy was attacked," he said.
Calloway said he hasn't received a reply from Police Commissioner Elton Lewis. However, Police Department spokeswoman Shawna Richards faxed a copy of the Aug. 21 letter from Lewis to Calloway.
In his reply, Lewis notes that St. John police officers brought a man matching the alleged attacker's description to the police station shortly after the incident, but said Calloway claimed the person wasn't the youth who beat him with a shovel.
Richards read the same account from the police report.
"That's not true at all," Calloway said, adding that the police didn't bring any suspects in for him to see.
According to Calloway, he had taken a taxi from the Westin to Cruz Bay at around 12:30 a.m. for drinks at the Quiet Mon Pub. He said that when he was ready to leave, he went to look for a taxi. Finding none around, he said he asked the bartender what to do. He said he was told taxis didn't run that late, but he should start walking toward the Westin because a taxi would probably come along.
Calloway, who owns a commercial and residential real estate financing company, said he was very surprised to find that no taxis were available in the early morning hours.
"They should notify people that public transportation is not available," he said, adding that since he lives in Chicago, he's used to easy availability of taxis.
He said he then started walking toward the Westin. When he got just beyond the Texaco gas station, he said he heard footsteps rapidly approaching behind him. Calloway said a youth about 14 to 16 years old came at him with a shovel, while another youth stood 10 to 20 feet behind. He said he saw other youths ages about nine to 12 in the distance.
He said he grabbed the shovel on the first swing and was able to deflect the second swing with his arm; but the third swing got him squarely in the head.
Calloway said the attacker continued to hit him with the shovel, knocking him down on the ground. He said he finally was able to escape and ran back to the police station.
He said he doesn't understand why he was attacked. He said he threw his watch at the youth, and asked him if he wanted his wallet.
"It's disturbing because robbery doesn't seem to be the motive," he said, adding that he sees no way he could have provoked the attack.
Calloway said he thinks he was attacked because he was white. However, he said that he called the FBI to claim the attack was a hate crime, but said the FBI told him they weren't sure the attack would qualify.
According to Richards, the police report indicates Calloway arrived at the police station at 2:15 a.m.
"There was strong odor of alcohol and he appeared to be intoxicated," she said.
Calloway agreed that he had had some drinks.
Richards said he suffered three lacerations to the left side of his head and bruises on his knees and feet. An ambulance transported him to Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center for treatment.
Calloway said the ambulance bill ran $1,000, which he found "ridiculous." He said the $500 charged by Keating Smith for his treatment seemed a fair price.
Richards said that when Calloway returned home to Chicago, he contacted the Tourism Department's Chicago region manager, Kay Milliner, and subsequently launched his letter-writing campaign.
In his letter to Calloway, Lewis apologized for the alleged attack.
"There is nothing in the initial report to indicated that this was anything other than an unfortunate, but random and isolated incident," Lewis wrote.
He wrote that a detective was assigned to the case, and sent him the phone number of his special assistant for St. John, Kim Lyons, to be a point of contact. Lewis also gave him the number of Leslye Webb, the VIPD's victim witness advocate.
Calloway said he was considering joining forces with a friend to develop a piece of land on St. John, but that proposal is now on hold.
"I do have a degree of fear, and I would just as soon give tourism dollars to another place," he said.
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