Community Tips, Police Manhunt, Yields Suspected Shooter on St. Croix

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Police on St. Croix said it took a team of detectives and special operations police officers to capture a shooting suspect in Estate Whim on Tuesday. A spokesperson for the V.I. Police Department said the person being sought was wanted in connection with a February incident, wounding a minor who was in their home at the time.

Police spokesperson Glen Dratte said 39-year-old Rusiel Encarnacion was evading authorities after the arrest of his female companion on March 5. Alba Lopez Osario, 38, was taken into custody after police appeared at her home, searching for Encarnacion, and allegedly came across a number of illegal firearms.

Dratte credits tips from residents for helping members of the V.I. Police Department’s Criminal Investigations and Special Operations Bureaus take the suspect into custody. “He’s captured now. We had tips from the community about where he was,” Dratte said.

Investigators say there were two shootings in one night in Whim, and that they were able to link Encarnacion to the incident where a minor was wounded. “This started in February. There were two shootings in Whim where a minor was shot in the leg. This guy was identified as the guy who shot the person in the leg,” Dratte said.

There were no injuries reported in the second shooting, and Dratte said it is unclear if Encarnacion had anything to do with it. “The investigation is still underway,” he said.

The incident that led to Encarnacion’s arrest took place about a month after a similar incident in the area of Castle Coakley and Peter’s Rest took the life of Stacey Schjang on Jan. 27.

Encarnacion is now charged with attempted murder, unauthorized possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, discharging and aiming a firearm, and reckless endangerment. He made an initial appearance in St. Croix Superior Court’s Magistrate Division Wednesday. Magistrate Ernest Morris Jr. found probable cause to uphold the charges, as well as $500,000 bail that was set at the time of arrest, according to an administrator in the court clerk’s office.

No trial date was specified after Wednesday’s hearing, but a discovery conference is scheduled for Sept. 21. The case has been assigned to Superior Court Judge Douglas Brady.