Five on STJ Face Robbery, Gun Charges

David Cannonier,  assistant police chief for St. John.
David Cannonier, assistant police chief for St. John.

Two minor males and three adult males were arrested in Cruz Bay late Monday night, October 22, on charges relating to a robbery and gun possession.

Some of those arrested were part of a group of young men that regularly hang out in Cruz Bay and have been the subject of complaints from community members over the past several months.

“We keep an eye on them,” said David Cannonier, assistant police chief for St. John. “We got a break. We got a report of a robbery, and [the suspect] turned out to be one of them. We found a firearm and arrested all five of them when probable cause was found. They were all released on a secure bond,” he said.

One minor was charged with robbery. Bail was set at $75,000 by order of the court, and the minor was put in protective custody and transported to the Juvenile Bureau.

A second minor was charged with possession of a firearm. Bail was set at $25,000 by order of the court, and that minor was also put in protective custody and transported to the Juvenile Bureau.

The three adults, Ottany Inecia, Abkim Cuthbert Clersant, and Jarius Penn, were all charged with constructive possession of a firearm. Cannonier explained that this charge was used when suspects are found in close proximity to a gun within a limited space. All three suspects were transported to St. Thomas and remanded to the Bureau of Corrections. Bail for each was set at $25,000.

At least one of the suspects had been previously arrested – on Sept. 24 – and charged with possession of stolen property.

“My team is really trying to address the situation,” said Cannonier. “We haven’t had any issues since [Monday.] I’m really proud of the work they’re doing.”

Residents of parts of Cruz Bay have been increasing security measures in the past several months following a series of breaks-ins and then a gunpoint robbery of two female minors in June.

On Oct. 7, a group of tourists was robbed at gunpoint as they walked home after dinner in Cruz Bay to their nearby guesthouse. Two weeks earlier, a St. John resident reported that a male had pulled a gun on him.

In the past month, burglaries were reported in Pastory, Estate Carolina, Virgin Grand Estates, and John’s Folly.

Cannonier said the Criminal Investigation Bureau was investigating whether any of these crimes were related.

Since Hurricane Irma struck in September 2017, residents from the eastern parts of St. John have also expressed concern about insufficient police presence. Coral Bay is still without a police substation, but Cannonier said officers are making regular patrols.

“With our limited strength, we’re trying to make sure the community is protected as much as possible,” he said.

The police blotter listed numerous complaints against at least two St. John residents who have mental health issues. One name appeared eight times within a month. Asked why an arrest had not been made, Cannonier said, “He has his challenges. If you can’t prove criminal intent, it’s tough to proceed with an arrest. We have some mentally ill people that need to be housed. There’s no place for them to go. I have a background in psychology, so it pains me a lot.”