A St. John businessman who was assaulted at the Red Hook barge dock on Monday morning, June 19, said he was appalled at the V.I. Port Authority security guards reaction and questioned the safety of residents who use the barge between St. Thomas and St. John.
Charlie Rock Frischkorn, who runs an air conditioning and refrigeration business, said he was assaulted inside his truck after nearly running over a man who walked behind his vehicle while Frischkorn was attempting to back onto a waiting barge.
I think they should have security guards with legal authority at the dock at all times, said Frischkorn, who was involved in an early morning altercation while waiting to board the barge to travel to St. John. The tendency for violence among the many people waiting for loading and unloading at these docks is very much there. Its there all the time.
Accounts of Incident Differ
The incident started because he accused me of trying to run him over, said Frischkorn. I told him I did not see him and apologized, and he proceeded to jump inside the drivers door of my vehicle and assault me with a closed fist, at which point he damaged my left ear.
Frischkorns account of the incident differs from eyewitness accounts, which state Frischkorn did hit the man with his truck and then shut the mans arm in his truck door.
Although accounts of the incident differ, there is no dispute that a violent confrontation occurred at Red Hook that morning.
Frischkorn spent nearly three hours at the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center after the incident, where he paid $240 to have his ear stitched up, he said.
He hit me 10 to 15 times, but I blocked most of the punches, said Frischkorn. He got my ear a couple times and did a lot of damage.
The female VIPA security guard watched the incident with her jaw dropped in astonishment before she finally asked the man in the altercation with Frisch-korn to leave the dock area, according to Frischkorn.
No Info Obtained by VIPA
After someone pulled the man off me, the security guard got him to go back to his car and got him to leave, said Frischkorn. She didnt ask him his name, didnt ask him anything just got him to leave.
Frischkorn blames inefficient operations at the docks for tensions between drivers waiting to board the barges, he said.
People spend hours and hours waiting to get loaded on to the barges or ferry boats, and sometimes the captains let their buddies on and cut people off who have been waiting there an hour or two, said Frischkorn. There is no outlet for anything that happens on the boat docks. I think its just a bad deal.
When contacted after Frisch-korn reported the incident to St. John Tradewinds, VIPA spokes-person Carol Henneman said she was not sure how much authority VIPA security guards have and said she would look into the matter.
If its a security officer, yes, I would think they have the authority to arrest someone, she said.
Subsequent phone calls to Henneman were not returned.
Lives Are at Stake
Frischkorn, who travels the barge often because of his business, said he hopes to file charges, but in the meantime, he must continue to use the barges.
If I have the opportunity, I will press charges, he said. Theres nothing else I can do. I have to continue on the way I have been, and hopefully I have no more confrontations with this gentleman.
Frischkorns incident was not an isolated one, he said.
I have heard of many people having fights, battles and accidents at the barge docks, he said. Ive heard this over and over. Something needs to be done.
Somebody needs to bring some type of legal authority to oversee the loading and unloading of these vessels, because things are happening here, and sooner or later someones going to get shot, Frischkorn continued. I dont want to be the one shooting or getting shot at. Peoples lives are at stake.