3 armed men rob St. Croix credit union in broad daylight

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ST. CROIX - Police are investigating an armed robbery that took place early Friday morning at a credit union in Castle Coakley in which the robbers struck an employee and robbed another employee and a customer before fleeing without any money from the business.

It was the fourth daytime armed robbery of a business on the island this year.

Police are searching for three armed men who entered into the Mid Island Credit Union just after 9 a.m. Friday and demanded money, V.I. Police spokeswoman Melody Rames said. The men were unable to get any cash from the establishment and instead robbed one employee and a patron of their cash and a cellphone, she said.

Someone in or near the business called the 911 Emergency Dispatch Center at 9:11 a.m. to report the robbery, Rames said.

Witnesses told police that three armed men with shirts covering their faces entered the business and demanded money and asked the employees to open the safe, according to Rames.

The employees replied by saying that the business did not have a safe and that no money was kept at the location, she said.

The gunmen forced their way into the teller area of the office where they searched unsuccessfully for cash, and at that time, one of the men struck a female employee in the head with his gun.

The suspects then robbed another employee and a customer of cash and a cellphone before leaving the area in a red sedan, according to Rames.

Already this year, armed men have staged three other daytime robberies:

- On July 17, three masked gunmen robbed the racino at Randall "Doc" James Racetrack of thousands of dollars just after 9 a.m. Police still are searching for the robbers

- On June 21, just before 4 p.m., two armed men were seen by police fleeing the Quality Food store in Castle Coakley, and police shot one of the men, who they said pointed a gun at them. Daniel Ramos, 39, of Clifton Hill, was caught and arrested a few days after the robbery; Edigbierto Diaz, 45, of Estate Profit, was arrested this week after recovering from his gunshot wounds.

- On March 21, an armed 16-year-old boy robbed the Banco Popular in Orange Grove about 11:20 a.m. and fled, dropping the money bag when a dye-marker inside exploded. Police apprehended the boy less than a mile away from the bank about 10 minutes after the robbery.

Deputy Police Chief Arthur Hector Sr. condemned Friday's brazen robbery in a busy commercial area. While the credit union is located off Queen Mary Highway, it is surrounded in close proximity by a party supply store, diner, beauty salon, offices and a laundry.

Hector asked residents in the community to come forward with whatever information they may have about the robbery or the persons responsible. He said anyone with information can call detectives at 712-6031, 712-6024 or 911 or call the anonymous tip line at Crime Stoppers USVI at 1-800-222-8477.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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