The victim of an early morning robbery Thursday, September 3, in Cruz Bay was severely wounded by three men who armed themselves with weapons found in the victim’s apartment — and after waiting for officers to show up for nearly 45 minutes, he walked to the police station to find no one there.
Mon Phon, the chef at Morgan’s Mango, wanted to set the record straight regarding an article entitled “Victims Injured During Early Morning Knife and Machete Robber,” that was published in the previous issue of St. John Tradewinds that contained statements made by a V.I. Police Department official he claims are incorrect.
Phon said he and a friend were attacked in his apartment, located behind Morgan’s Mango, by three black men with black t-shirts wrapped around their faces who appeared to be in their early 20s and in good physical condition.
Contrary to a VIPD press release which stated three suspects armed with knives and a machete entered the victim’s apartment, demanded money and a fight began between the victims and the suspects, Phon said the men were not initially armed and a fight broke out before any money was demanded.
“The three guys were originally without weapons,” Phon said. “All the weapons they got were from my room — except the rock, which they got outside. So after they left, yeah, they were armed.”
Phon and two of his friends were in his apartment playing hockey on PlayStation 3 and doing a fantasy football draft around 1:30 a.m., according to the chef.
About 15 to 20 minutes after one of his two friends left to go home, two men entered the front door, which was left unlocked, and immediately threw a rock at Phon’s other friend’s face.
“Then I got up from the sofa, grabbed my sushi knife from the wall and got really close to the guy’s stomach, but I hesitated for half a second and someone, who had crawled in through the window, hit me with a rainstick (a percussion instrument made from a dried cactus branch that is hollowed out, filled with small pebbles, and capped at both ends) from behind,” Phon said.
Phon said the attackers hit him with a rainstick and then cracked his head open with a glass vase. He owned both items, which left him with head injuries that required 10 staples and 18 stitches.
“Then I threw a bottle of sesame oil at one of the attackers,” Phon said. “We were slipping and sliding on the oil, trying to get the knife that one of the guys knocked out of my hand when he hit me with the rainstick.”
One of the attackers grabbed the knife and held it to Phon’s throat.
“And I stopped struggling after that,” Phon said.
Phon said the three attackers then sat he and his friend, who were both injured and bleeding, down near the couch and demanded money.
“He put the knife between my eyes and I told them I didn’t have any money because I don’t get paid until Friday and we explained it’s been really slow,” Phon said. “Then he went to my friend and asked for his wallet, and he gave him his wallet which only had $30 in it.”
The three men then proceeded to rob the apartment.
“Then they started going through the room and taking what they could — our PlayStation 3, our laptops, our games and movies, and both of our cell phones,” Phon said.
Once the robbers left, Phon said he and his friend discussed their next steps.
“We were all bloody, but the first thing we did was lock the door,” Phon said. “They took our cell phones, so I decided to come down to Morgan’s Mango and set the alarm off.”
Phon returned to his apartment and waited for 15 minutes for police to respond to the sounding alarm.
“We waited and waited and nobody came,” he said. “So then we waited in front of Morgan’s Mango and sat there bleeding with my head basically cracked open for another half hour. And nobody showed up. And the alarm was going off the whole time.”
After the alarm had been sounding between 35 and 45 minutes, Phon said he finally convinced his friend they had to go to the police station for help.
“So we were walking down to the police station and I was bloody from head to toe,” Phon said. “And by the time we got there, there was no one at the police station either.”
Phon said they waited inside the police station for five or six minutes, yelling for help the whole time but no one came.
VIPD’s public information officer Melody Rames said two police officers were at the front desk of the station and saw the two gentlemen come in that night.
“According to Deputy Chief Darren Foy, the gentlemen did not try to initiate any contact with police and then they left,” she said.
“There were officers right there, and I would suggest, if there is a discrepancy, that they take it to VIPD’s internal affairs which investigates all complaints against police officers in an unbiased investigation.”
Phon said after leaving the station, the two noticed The Quiet Mon bar was still open, some time between 2:15 and 2:30 a.m., so they went there for help and a patron at the bar called 911.
Phon said it took police between 10 to 12 minutes to show up at The Quiet Mon after the call.
“And then they finally called St. John Rescue and that is when I started fading and needed to lie down,” Phon said.
A St. John Rescue member stabilized Phon until the paramedics got there and took him to Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center.
Phon’s injuries included a deep cut in his head, a broken and bloody nose, and cuts in his wrists, right thumb and lower knee that required stitches. His friend sustained a broken jaw from the rock that was thrown at his face.
“I want people to know that this could happen to anyone,” Phon said. “It is fun going out, but this time of year, during slow season, try not to walk alone after you have been drinking.”
“And always check to see if your door and windows are locked,” he added.
Rames said police response time to the sounding alarm and the 911 call are still under investigation.