4 masked gunmen rob jewelry store in Sunny Isle
Published: September 13, 2013
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ST. CROIX - Chaos broke out in Sunny Isle Shopping Center just before 10 a.m. Thursday when four masked gunmen stormed the Mini World jewelry and gift store, making away with hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise and leaving the security guard seriously injured.
Store owner Ram Bansal said it was just after 9:30 a.m. when he was inside the store, and three young men ran into the store, jumping over the counter, breaking the glass showcases with a hammer and removing their contents.
Bansal said that as the men gathered the valuable gold and diamond merchandise from the cases, he was able to run out of the store for help.
St. Croix Police Chief James Parris said police are being careful with the amount and type of information that is revealed about the ongoing investigation, but he did confirm that emergency dispatchers received the call reporting the robbery at 9:45 a.m. and based on investigations, police determined that four suspects robbed the Mini World gift store.
The store's security guard was hit in his head with a blunt object, that may have been a hammer, and was treated at Luis Hospital, Parris said.
Dozens of residents from varying parts of the shopping center and the surrounding areas crowded near the store as police and emergency medical technicians responded to the call. Police vehicles and caution tape blocked access to the area along the sidewalk for about 150 feet and on the street, preventing vehicular traffic in the area, as detectives and forensic technicians conducted their investigation.
Residents expressed disbelief that such a brazen act could be carried out in the busy shopping center that early in the day.
Parris said that contrary to some reports that had been made, police found no evidence of shots fired inside or outside the business. He said the front glass door of the store was shattered, possibly as the gunmen struck it with the blunt object in an attempt to get out of the store.
Parris said police have determined that the suspects left the scene in a burgundy Ford sport utility vehicle.
He said all of the suspects were wearing masks covering their faces, but police are continuing to investigate all leads.
Bansal said security and safety is always a concern running a business. He said that because he has been robbed before, he has thought about and put security devices in place, such as a door buzzer, that he hoped would have eliminated such an incident.
Bansal said being able to run his business keeps him young and active, but he may consider closing at this point.
Parris said anyone with information about the robbery can call detectives at 712-6077 or 712-6037 or can call the Crime Stoppers USVI anonymous tip line at 1-800-222-8477.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email email@example.com.