When a masked man armed with two guns attempted to rob four St. John residents around 5:30 a.m. Sunday morning, August 23, he was wrestled, held down and duck taped by the victims until police arrived at the scene to arrest him.
St. John police arrested Jamal Todman after he was detained by the males who said Todman tried to rob them, according to a V.I. Police Department press release. Two weapons, a loaded 25 caliber semi automatic pistol and a BB gun, were recovered from the suspect.
“We were inside of our jeep in the Lumberyard parking lot getting ready to go home and one masked man carrying two pistols came up to the passenger side of the car and demanded our money and phones,” said Larry Parnell, one of the four victims which also included Tony Romano, Kevin Baker and Michael Bowman. “Tony gave him money — whatever was in his pocket — but when Kevin refused, the guy started hitting him with one of the pistols in his hand.”
Parnell said he and Bowman jumped out of the jeep and pushed Todman away from the side of the car where he was hitting Baker. Todman then ran out toward the road next to Jakes Restaurant and turned around, pointed the gun at the victims and attempted to shoot at them.
“He whipped around and tried to pull the slide on the gun, pointed it at Bowman and I, and tried to shoot it but it jammed,” Parnell said. “Then Bowman and I tackled him down on the street.”
Parnell said he put Todman in a headlock while Bowman held him down and they called the police. He said it took police approximately 20 minutes to arrive because officers were at the scene of a fatal car accident on Centerline Road (see related story on page #).
“It took police about 20 minutes to get there so in the meantime we duck taped his legs together,” Parnell said. “I don’t know if we had time to be scared — we were all just like, ‘Really? This is St. John. This doesn’t happen here’.”
Parnell said they took Baker up to the clinic to treat some swelling and bruises but he is now doing better. Baker later told Parnell that Todman tried to pull the trigger and shoot him while he was hitting him with the gun.
“We are fine now — Kevin is pretty much healed up and our hands are still a little ripped up,” Parnell said. “We might have a few scars, but it could have been a lot worse.”
St. John Deputy Chief Darren Foy thanked the individuals for their assistance in detaining the suspect but cautioned the public against challenging armed suspects, according to the VIPD release. The Deputy Chief also commended the community for their increased assistance and being the eyes and ears of the police department.
Parnell said he and his friends were mad and angry at the time of the incident, but in retrospect, he has mixed feelings about the way they reacted.
“There is a thin line between bravery and stupidity and I am not sure which one we fall in,” he said.
Todman was charged with Robbery in the First Degree and his bail was set at $600,000, according to the VIPD. He was remanded to the custody of the Bureau of Corrections pending further court action.