After a weekend that saw five shooting deaths and the grisly report of a baby-killing and the arrest of her parents, V.I. Police brass called a press conference Monday to address the community’s concerns about the escalating violence.
Summoned to Government House by Gov. John deJongh Jr. on Monday, VIPD Commissioner Novelle Francis, Assistant Commissioner Raymond Hyndman, along with VIPD district and deputy chiefs, briefed the governor and public on the weekend’s incidents and events.
“As a people and a community, we must stand up and push back against the handful of undesirables who believe they have a license to shoot, maim, kill or injure anyone that stands between them and the revenge they seek,” deJongh said in Monday’s statement.
On St. Thomas alone, five individuals died as a result of gunshot wounds, and two more remain in the hospital, one fighting for life, according to police and hospital officials. Here are brief details on the weekend’s unprecedented violence:
–around 1:35 p.m. Friday, a 23-year-old was shot twice in the upper body in Anna’s Retreat and later died at Schneider Regional Medical Center. No suspects are in custody.
–Richard Hodge, 40, of Bordeaux was found shot to death Saturday morning before noon. On Friday Police investigated a fire in the same area and were notified by residents they heard shots about two hours prior to the fire, and that Hodge was missing.
–Henry Joel “Isis” Buckmire, 49, a suspect in Hodge’s death, was then shot by police Saturday afternoon. According to VIPD authorities, Buckmire was intercepted walking on the road; when ordered to stop, Buckmire reportedly reached for his firearm and was shot to death by police.
–a 7:37 pm Sunday shootout in the vicinity of Cockpit/DANA Mart in Nadir left two dead. One died at the scene, while another was transported to Schneider Regional Medical Center, where he later died. The deceased identities’ are being withheld until family members can be notified.
The community was also shocked and saddened this weekend by news that two teenagers— Kaseem Bruno, 19, and 18-year-old Lilia Roumo—were arrested Saturday and charged in the April strangulation death of their 2-month-old child, Kailiah K. Bruno. The father, Kaseem Bruno, has been charged with first-degree murder, while the mother, Lilia Roumo, is facing involuntary manslaughter charges.
After a weekend with so many violent deaths, Francis said during Monday’s press conference that he was not very proud to be before the public. Asking judges to be more mindful when releasing individuals on bail, he noted that these accused often become victims themselves.
“I am asking our judges to consider that these individuals are better off in jail than on our streets, Francis said, adding that individuals are often stopped on firearms charges when they are out on bail.
Francis also suggested impounding vehicles that hold weapons that are being seized.
The governor is expected to announce measures to stem the tide in a press conference Tuesday.
Hyndman urged the community to contact the department with any information, no matter how small, that could help solve any of the aforementioned shooting deaths.