A tourist from Chicago who asked to be referred to only by his first name, Don, arrived for his first visit to St. John on August 5 for a friends wedding. Five days later, when he was attacked by a shovel-wielding teenager and his friends, Don knew this would be his last visit to St. John.
Don, who was staying at the Westin Resort, left the Quiet Mon Pub at approximately 1:30 a.m. on Thursday, August 10, unaware that taxis had stopped running, he said.
I walked down the steps, looked for a cab for a few minutes, then went back up to the Quiet Mon and spoke to the bartender, said Don. I asked him to call me a cab, and he relayed to me that was something he couldnt do, because the taxis had pretty much shut down at that time. He told me my best bet was to walk toward the Westin and I may catch a taxi heading there.
Approached by Teenagers
Don began walking on foot toward the Westin. As he approached the Texaco intersection, he heard footsteps behind him.
I heard footsteps approaching, which obviously drew my attention, said Don. I turned around, and there was a kid, about 15 years old, with a shovel fully engaged and ready to smack me. There were two or three of his friends with him, watching him.
Don was able to deflect the first few strikes in the unprovoked attack with his arms before the suspect struck him in the head.
The first couple strikes I took in the arm and hand, trying to catch the shovel and block it, and I fractured my knuckle, he said. On the third attempt, he cracked me directly on the skull, which knocked me to my knees. I got up, took a couple steps, and he hit me again.
Robbery did not appear to be the motive in the attack, said Don, who offered his expensive watch and wallet to his attacker.
I took off my watch and threw it to them, and I asked them what they wanted, said Don. I said, take my wallet, but they never said a word. Clearly it wasnt a robbery.
Dons watch was later recovered at the scene by police, who returned the valuable item to him.
Don eventually was able to escape his attackers and make his way to the Leander Jurgen Command just down the street.
Im a pretty decent-sized guy in pretty good shape, and after multiple strikes, by the grace of God, or adrenaline, or a combination of a bunch of things, I was able to run away and ended up at the police station, he said.
No Police Report of Incident
There was no report of the incident on the public police record at the V.I. Police Department Leander Jurgen Command in Cruz Bay.
Don was taken to Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center, where his wounds were cleaned, and four lacerations ranging from three to seven inches were closed up with stitches, he said.
The lacerations were all on the crown of my head, he said.
Despite the brutal beating he suffered, Don decided to stay on St. John for the remainder of his vacation.
The next day was the rehearsal dinner, and the following day was the wedding, he said. The last thing I wanted to do was try to recoordinate my trip and incur additional expenses. I figured, whats one more day, but obviously I really wanted to come home.
Don sent a letter on Thursday, August 17, to Department of Tourism Commissioner Pamela Richards, St. John Deputy Police Chief Angelo Hill, St. John Administrator Julien Harley and V.I. Governor Charles Turnbull, in an attempt to seek a resolution.
The Virgin Islands really was my favorite place to go, but after what happened to me, and the fact that the police are charging it as a third-degree assault is not acceptable to me, said Don. I want tourists to be aware, and I want transportation to be available. If youre going to have the bars and restaurants open late, you should have public transportation available.
I think there is way too much cover up of this racial tension that occurs on St. John, added Don, who said his attackers were black.
Local teenagers are known to loiter in the same area Don was attacked, and nearly two years ago, a white male was brutally attacked in the same area.
This is such a level of violence that Ive never experienced, said Don. Love City you call it?
This is the first reported violent assault of a tourist on St. John this year. In late May, a tourist couple was met by two armed suspects upon returning to their villa, where they were tied up and robbed at gun point. The couple was not physically harmed.
V.I. Police Department spokesperson Shawna Richards did not return repeated calls for comment on Dons case.
See August 21-September, 2006 “Letters to the Editor” for Dons letter to Commissioner of Tourism Pamela Richards regarding this incident.