Two security guards were shot – one critically – and a money transfer stolen Tuesday, but the V.I. Police Department was able to apprehend the suspect within hours of the crime, police reported.
Richard Antonio Hodge, 23, was arrested Tuesday afternoon and charged with first-degree assault, first-degree robbery and first-degree reckless endangerment in the incident that began with gunfire at the Kmart in Lockhart Gardens.
According to police, two security guards from Ranger American were making a cash pickup from Kmart. When they left the building with the cash, police said, Hodge opened fire on them.
The police did not release the names of the two guards in line with a policy of not identifying nonfatal crime victims. One guard was shot in the upper body and was hospitalized at the Roy Schneider Medical Center in critical but stable condition. The other was shot in the legs and was listed as stable.
An off-duty V.I. Police officer happened to be on the scene when the incident took place. He saw the suspect escape into the Oswald Harris Court housing community. By that time 911 had been called and police officers and other law enforcement agents descended on the scene, surrounding the housing community.
VIPD Public Information Officer Melody Rames said police receive "great cooperation" from Oswald Harris Court residents, who helped police locate the area in which the suspect was hiding, a wooded area behind the housing community.
Police called in a K9 unit and with the dog’s help scoured the area, discovering the suspect lying in the brush.
The 911 call was dispatched to officers at 2:15 p.m. Hodge was being booked at the police station before 6 p.m.
St. Thomas/St. John Police Chief Darrin Foy praised the work of his officers, especially the off-duty officer, whose reaction he said was critical to the quick resolution of the case, and the other law enforcement officers who pitched in to find the suspect. Foy also expressed sympathy to the two injured security guards and support for their families.