Federal investigators worked through Wednesday afternoon to gather the facts surrounding an armed assault on an armored car parked near a St. Thomas bank. One Ranger American security guard was shot and wounded in the incident.
Authorities say that around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, an emergency call from 911 alerted the Virgin Islands Police Department. Sirens were heard racing through Charlotte Amalie, heading west towards Scotia Bank in Altona about an hour later. By mid-morning, the bank’s parking lot and street level stairway to the entrance had crime scene tape strung across them.
The bank closed shortly afterward. Signs posted in the walk-in entrance told customers to come back tomorrow.
”We advise this branch has just been involved in an attempted robbery/emergency situation. We will be closed today for the completion of police investigation,” the sign said.
Those who could not wait entered the bank lobby to use the automatic teller machines, assisted by a Ranger American security guard.
Leon George, emerging from completing his automated banking chore, said he was surprised to see the bank had closed because of alleged foul play.
“I didn’t really believe they were doing armed robbery – attempted armed robbery – on St. Thomas these days,” George said.
The condition of the shooting victim was not disclosed by Schneider Regional Medical Center officials. Chief Executive Officer Bernard Wheatley said the victim arrived by late morning and was being medically stabilized hours later.
“The patient was a male patient, a shooting victim was brought in. The shooting victim is still here with us,” Wheatley said.
Around the same time, according to police spokesman Glen Dratte, detectives sat down with agents of the FBI. Because an alleged attempted robbery of an armored car could be prosecuted under the Hobbs Act – a federal crime – federal authorities would take the lead.
“This incident is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the VIPD’s Criminal Investigations Bureau. This is an ongoing investigation,” Dratte said.
Wednesday’s incident was the latest in assaults on armored cars. On Dec. 3, 2013, two Ranger American guards were shot and injured at Lockhart Gardens Shopping Center. One guard was shot while collecting deposits from Kmart and other retail stores at the shopping center.
The other guard was wounded while giving chase to a masked suspect who fled across the roadway into Oswald Harris Court Housing Community. Richard Antonio Hodge was arrested, tried and convicted in connection with the crime in 2015.
He is now serving a 60 year prison sentence.