Christmas in Jail For St. Croix Man After “Warning Shot” From Unlicensed Gun

A Castle Coakley man thought a neighbor was breaking into his property late Christmas Eve and fired a warning shot from a weapon he was not licensed to own, police said Thursday.

Officers responded to a call of shots fired about 11:30 on Dec. 24 to find Jeremiah Stubbs, 40, standing near El Sol Bar, police said. Stubbs denied hearing the shots, police said, but they noticed a black handgun handle and black holster sticking out of Stubbs’ waistband.

Stubbs did not have a license for the firearm. He told the officers what happened as he was placed under arrest, police said.

A neighbor from a home behind his had been trying to break into his house, police said that Stubbs said, so he stepped outside and discharged one shot in the air to chase them away. A check of the area turned up one spent bullet casing in the roadway near Stubbs’ yard entrance, police said.

Stubbs was arrested and charged with carrying or using a firearm during a crime of violence. Bail was set for $100,000 and Stubbs spent Christmas in the John A. Bell Correctional Facility pending his advice of rights hearing.

The Virgin Islands Police Department and Government House have condemned shooting in the air as gravely dangerous and “terrorizing” to people nearby. So-called warning shots and celebratory gunfire send bullets in the air that have to come down somewhere.

Bullets fired randomly into the sky can be far more deadly than horizontal shootings because victims are almost always hit in the head, according to the website ShotSpotter.

A nurse died in Harris County, Texas, during 2020 New Years’ Eve celebrations when randomly fired bullets fell on her, local officials said.

Shortly after New Years’ 2021, Gov. Albert Bryan Jr issued a statement about shooting in the air: “There is nothing celebratory about firing bullets in the air and terrorizing peaceful Virgin Islanders attending church or enjoying their New Year’s Eve festivities. As governor, I will not turn a blind eye to this senseless, dangerous and illegal age-old practice and congratulate the Virgin Islands Police for a job well done on its response.”