V.I. Police Department officers were slow to respond to a Sunday night, November 6 armed robbery at Island Blues Restaurant in Coral Bay because no officers were stationed at the nearby substation.
Island Blues was robbed by two masked gunmen around 11:30 p.m. on Sunday night and calls to the V.I.P.D. Coral Bay substation were unanswered.
The bar was about three-quarters full when two black men, one carrying a shotgun and the other a 9-millimeter handgun, came into the bar after apprehending a pedestrian outside, holding a gun to his head and firing a shot into the air.
Witnesses at the scene think the bullet may have been a blank because there was no shell casing found.
Customers around the bar dropped to the ground as the two men in long-sleeves, gloves and ski masks entered and demanded money from the register.
The two men, described as taller than 58 and thin, took an undisclosed amount of cash from the register behind the bar and fled in a grey or silver Nissan Pathfinder with a black covered spare tire on the back, according to witnesses who did not get a license plate number.
A third person may have been involved because the two men left immediately in the vehicle, according to witnesses.
I ran after them and someone must have been in the car waiting because they left immediately, said one witness.
Calls to the VIPD Coral Bay substation, which opened to great fanfare in late October about 200 yards away in the Coccoloba retail complex, went unanswered because no officers were in the area.
VIPD officers came from Cruz Bay and arrived at the scene about 30 minutes later, well after the perpetrators had fled, according to witnesses.
There was no police response, said one witness. The substation is located practically across the street and no one was there.
In response to escalating crime in the Coral Bay area, including at least one violent home invasions, armed robberies, burglaries and a reported kidnapping and rape, VIPD Commissioner Elton Lewis made staffing the substation a top priority.
There will be a permanent police presence in Coral Bay effective today, said Commis-sioner Lewis at the opening of the Coral Bay substation on October 20.
However, that permanent police presence was not felt at Island Blues on the night of November 6.
The commissioner promised there would be 24-hour police presence in Coral Bay and it seems that he lied, said a resident in the area.
Repeated St. John Tradewinds phone calls to VIPD officials for comment on the armed robbery were not returned.