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HomeNewsLocal governmentFederal Charging Document Revealed in July 4 Cop Killer Case

Federal Charging Document Revealed in July 4 Cop Killer Case

A defaced handgun found in a suspect’s car led to federal weapons charges after the fatal shooting of a St. Thomas police officer. (Submitted photo)

The man accused of killing a St. Thomas policeman in Hospital Ground is scheduled to appear at a hearing in federal court on July 17. Defendant Richardson Dangleben Jr. made his initial appearance in District Court on Friday.

He was arrested earlier that day, charged with first-degree murder for the death of Police Detective Delberth Phipps Jr, 42. He is also charged with having a firearm with an obliterated serial number at the time that he, Phipps, and another police officer exchanged gunfire during a confrontation in Jah Yard.

Detective Delberth Phipps Jr, of the Virgin Islands Police Department. (Submitted photo)

Phipps and Dangleben, 51, were both wounded in that incident; the suspect survived but Phipps did not. A patrol officer first encountered the defendant in the area after receiving a report from the 911 emergency call center. Court documents made public on Monday said the officer on the scene called out to Dangleben and asked if he had a weapon.

At that time the suspect told the officer, “No, no, listen, I’m good,” then he entered the vehicle and tried to flee, investigators said. Phipps and another officer also responded to the report of an armed man walking in the Jah Yard area wearing a bulletproof vest.

By the time Dangleben reached the one-way exit point, Phipps and his partner were waiting there in an unmarked car with a flashing blue light. By the time the patrol car rounded the corner, he said the suspect was out of the car and had a rifle in hand.

The detective also had a rifle and gunfire ensued, according to an affidavit filed in the case. Patrolman Shahmin Skeete exited the patrol car, drew his service weapon, and took cover.

“As Officer Skeete began firing shots at Dangleben, Dangleben fired back at Officer Skeete. Officer Skeete took cover by moving to the back of his marked police unit and fired more shots towards Dangleben,” the report said.

Then the suspect moved back towards his vehicle. A moment later, he moved away and laid down on the ground. Police moved in and captured Dangleben. The two wounded men were transported to Roy L. Schneider Hospital. Crime scene investigators moved in.

In the suspect’s car, they found a blood-stained rifle, a handgun with the serial number scratched off, and several rounds of ammunition. “That handgun had a chambered round and five live rounds in an inserted magazine; and (sic) a second .45 caliber magazine containing four live rounds,” documents said.

Authorities accused the defendant of violating United States Code Title 18, Section 922(k) for the handgun. A local charge of first-degree murder of a police officer engaged in performance of his duties was added. U.S. Magistrate Ruth Miller upheld both charges against Dangleben on Friday and ordered him to appear at a detention hearing in District Court on July 17.

He is currently being held at the Federal Detention Center in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, pending further action by the court.

The death of Delbert Phipps Jr, a 7-year veteran of the V.I. Police Department Investigations Bureau, marks the first death of an officer in the line of duty since 2012.

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