One of two armed men who robbed an illegal high-stakes card game on government-owned property in Estate Enighed just after midnight early Friday morning, December 28, was arrested after being released from Schneider Regional Medical Center.
Michael Stanislas, 27, of Estate Nadir, 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 being released from the St. Thomas hospital on Sunday evening, December, 30, where he was treated for gunshot wounds.
V.I. Superior Court Judge Michael Dunston found probable cause for the charges at a preliminary hearing on Monday, December 31, and set bail at $250,000, according to published reports. Arraignment is scheduled for January 10 and a detention hearing on January 11.
A suspected accomplice has not been caught and V.I. Police Department officials have not released any information regarding the second assailant.
Illegal Gambling Game
Five men were playing cards at an illegal business on Circle Road when two men “dressed in black pants, white t-shirts and black rags over their faces stormed the game and ordered the men to hand over the cash,” according to a V.I. Police Department press release.
“After getting the cash, the suspects grabbed a gold chain from one of the victims’ neck before opening gunfire on one of the victims,” according to the VIPD’s press release. “The injured victim suffered gunshot wounds to the head, back and right side of the body. Additionally one of the robbery victims drew his licensed firearm and returned fire striking one of the suspects in the buttocks, groin and chest.”
VIPD officials did not release the name of the man who used his licensed firearm, or that of the injured card player. Both gunshot victims were transported to Schneider Regional Medical Center.
While the site of the robbery has been referred to as “Peter’s Place” and “Spotlight Bar and Restaurant” in published reports, there is no government-issued lease for the property nor a business license.
No Lease or License
Despite the lack of any license, the blue and white building located next to A&J Meat Market and down the street from St. Ursula’s Church, is regularly the scene of late-night card games and other illegal activities, according to neighbors in the area.
“Card games there don’t even start until 11 p.m. or midnight and they go late, late, late,” said a business owner in the area. “There is no real business there. All they do is gamble and smoke weed.”
Shots and Screams
A quick succession of three or four shots rang out at first around 12:09 a.m. early Friday morning, according to Estate Enighed neighbors.
After a delay of about three seconds, four or five more shots were fired followed by hysterical screaming, neighbors added.
“It makes me so mad,” said one neighbor. “I was in bed and my son was sleeping. First when I heard the shots and the screaming I thought maybe someone was just screwing around because it was almost New Year’s.”
After waiting to hear police vehicles arrive, the neighbor went outside to see what had transpired, but was not prepared to see blood stains on her front steps.
“I went outside and someone who had been shot had climbed up our steps and dripped blood all over the steps and the rug outside my room,” said the neighbor. “I was a little shaken, and more than that I am angry about the whole gun situation on this island.”
Although VIPD officers asked the woman a few questions before requesting that she return to her room, they were obviously looking for something nearby.
“According to one of the rescue personnel, the cops took three guys away in handcuffs but only had two guns and were looking for a third gun,” the neighbor said. “I didn’t go to my room, but suggested places they could look where someone might stash something.”
VIPD St. John Deputy Chief Darren Foy did not return St. John Tradewinds calls requesting comment on a third suspect and a third gun.
Not a Word from Forensics
“They didn’t recover anything and told me that forensics would be out the next morning,” the neighbor continued. “I had to tape off my steps and there was blood everywhere.”
Forensics did arrive the next morning, but did not converse with the woman.
“They didn’t ask me any questions and left without even telling me they were leaving,” said the resident. “Once I realized they were gone, I washed the blood off the steps.”
The site of the shoot-out is located close to a small inn, whose guests routinely walk past the abandoned building.
“There is no legal business where this happened,” said the inn owner, about the blue and white building where the shoot-out occurred. “I have guests who walk by there all the time and could have easily been hurt in that incident.”
The armed robbery and shoot-out came just a few weeks after St. John Administrator Leona Smith toured several government-owned properties checking business licenses in the area of the Cruz Bay Creek.
Although the administrator has not toured the Enighed area yet, it is now on her list of priorities.
Property and Procurement Coming
“That is government land there and there is no lease agreement,” said Smith. “If it is illegal and they have people there, they need to get out. We can’t encourage illegal activities on government property.”
“If that person doesn’t have a legal lease, they need to vacate,” Smith continued. “We will take a closer look at this. Property and Procurement is coming over to look into this matter and conduct a walk-through.”
An investigation is being pursued by the VIPD’s Criminal Investigation Bureau and anyone with information is asked to contact
Detective Kent Hodge on St. John at Leander Jurgen Command by calling 693-8880.