Property and Procurement officials last week served an eviction notice to squatters on government-owned property in Estate Enighed which was the site of an armed robbery and shoot-out late last month.
Referred to as “Spotlight Bar” or “Peter’s Place” in published reports, the occupants have no lease and no license to operate a business out of the blue and white building on Circle Road.
Despite the lack of any license, the building was regularly the site of late-night card games and other illegal activity, according to business owners in the area. That all changed after two armed men robbed the card players just after midnight early on December 28.
At least one of the robbers shot a card player, inflicting substantial injuries, and a different card player shot back, hitting one of the assailants, which landed him in the hospital as well.
Michael Stanislas, 27, of Estate Nadir in St. Thomas was arrested and charged with first-degree robbery, first-degree assault, reckless endangerment and unauthorized possession of a firearm and ammunition during a crime after he was released from the Schneider Regional Medical Center on December 30 where he was treated for gunshot wounds.
Stanislas pleaded not guilty to all counts at an arraignment in V.I. Superior Courty on Thursday, January 17.
The suspected accomplice has not been identified or apprehended by V.I. Police Department officials.
Property and Procurement officials took an active role in removing the illegal operation on government land, explained Halvor Hart, the department’s property division deputy commissioner.
“It seems there was a confusion between the previous tenant and the person who was using the property lately — some exchange had been done,” said Hart. “So in my mind they are squatters and the law says you have to serve an eviction notice. I served them last week and they have 30 days to respond.”
“After that we’ll take them to court and have a forcible entry and detainer done,” Hart continued. “That means we get the U.S. Marshals out there and forcibly change the locks on the building.”
Property and Procurement is dedicated to eradicating illegal activity on government land, Hart added.
“That is government property with no legal lease,” he said. “Our intent is to have no illegal activity on government land. When anything illegal happens, we move right on it and try to stop it as quickly as possible.”
“We’ve been doing a good job of monitoring government property and we’ll continue to do so,” Hart said.