Guard shot in armored truck robbery chased suspect despite leg wounds


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ST. THOMAS - After being shot through both legs during an armed robbery Tuesday afternoon in Lockhart Gardens Shopping Center, one of the security guards chased after his shooter.

The guard pursued the shooter with the help of an off-duty officer, only to loose sight of the shooter. However, only minutes later, another off-duty officer spotted a man hiding - which led to the suspect's arrest.

The suspect, identified as 29-year-old Richard Hodge, Jr., appeared in V.I. Superior Court on Wednesday and faced a list of charges including attempted first-degree murder, using an unlicensed firearm during a crime of violence, first-degree robbery, first-degree assault and reckless endangerment, according to the probable cause fact sheet written by Detective Sehkera Tyson.

Hodge is being accused of shooting both guards, employees of Ranger American Security Services, and of stealing $33,550 that was in a black money bag.

The incident occurred at 2:47 p.m. Tuesday, according to reports from the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency.

The money has not yet been located, according to V.I. Police spokeswoman Melody Rames.

The guards had arrived about 15 to 20 minutes before the incident, according to the probable cause fact sheet.

One of them went into Kmart to retrieve the money, and the other went to get Chinese food. It is unclear if they arrived together.

When the first guard came out, the other watched to make sure everything was alright.

The two guards were talking just before the incident occurred outside of Furniture Inn, located next to Kmart in the shopping center.

The guard who was carrying the money was shot four times in the upper body, according to V.I. Assistant Attorney General Brenda Scales.

The guard was in critical but stable condition Tuesday evening, though Rames declined to release his current condition Wednesday, as did Schneider Hospital.

The other guard, who was shot through one leg and into the other, was in stable condition Tuesday evening. Despite his wounds, the guard chased after the robber with the help of an off-duty officer who had been driving a taxi with several tourists on-board.

The officer had just parked near the armored truck in front of Kmart.

Moments before the shooting, the officer saw a man, later identified as Hodge, running toward Kmart. Hodge had a black cloth over his mouth and wore a black hat, she said.

The officer then heard shots and saw the suspect grab the bag of money from the guard who was falling to the ground.

The off-duty officer and the second guard, the one who had been shot in the legs, gave chase but lost sight of him after he ran behind the Oswald Harris Court housing community.

A second off-duty officer - who lives in the complex - spotted the suspect hiding in bushes near the complex and alerted 911 dispatchers. V.I. police then surrounded the complex and arrested him, Rames said.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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