A homeless, mentally ill man known as Greenie was placed under citizens arrest on Wednesday morning, May 10, after attacking local businesswoman Brenda Woodward in Cruz Bay the previous day.
The attack happened just after 11 a.m. on the sidewalk in front of the Nazareth Lutheran Church. Woodward was on her way from First Bank to her Cruz Bay business, Every Ting, when she saw Greenie, whose real name is Fitzroy Smith, coming down the road toward her, she said.
He stepped on the sidewalk, and I stepped off the sidewalk and into the road, she said. When I was walking past him, all of a sudden his left hand came out and grabbed my neck. I ducked, and put my head down, and he scraped the whole side of my neck and face.
Walked Away Like Nothing Happened
By the time Woodward put her hands up in a defensive mode, the homeless man was walking away, she said.
He was just walking away from me like nothing happened, said Woodward.
Although Greenie often appears to be mentally ill, Woodward said she believes he knew what he was doing when he attacked her.
A lot of people that Ive talked to think that it was intentional, she said. Everybody now is coming out of the woodwork, saying theyve been attacked by him before.
Immediately after the attack, Woodward continued on to her business, where she washed her wounds.
I went immediately to Every Ting, and saw that I was bleeding, so I washed my wounds, said Woodward. I called the police, and they came to my business.
Could Have Been Worse
The attack could have been much worse, according to Woodward.
Im just thankful that he didnt have a knife, she said. He was very strong.
Woodward found a witness to the attack, enabling her to proceed with the citizens arrest.
Maybe it happened to me for a reason, because I dont back down, she said. We have to pursue this, and we have to get him off the streets. I was shocked that this can happen at 11 in the morning.
What if this happens to a child or to a tourist? she added.
Charges Are Dropped
Woodward never had a run-in with the homeless man before Tuesdays incident, she said.
I know who he is, and I know hes a vagrant, she said. I know hes weird sometimes.
Woodward appeared in court on Thursday morning, May 11, for a probable cause hearing before Judge Brenda Hollar.
I have to make the time to do this, she said.
Prosecutors dropped the assault charge because the Justice Department plans to combine the charge with another complaint filed by a woman who said Greenie attacked her and her child, according to a published report.
The homeless man was released Thursday and was later seen walking the streets of St. Thomas.
V.I. Police Department spokesperson Shawna Richards said the VIPD is aware the attack happened, but could not provide further information.