Gunmen rob racino at Randall James Racetrack


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ST. CROIX - Police are investigating the mid-morning armed robbery Thursday of thousands of dollars from the racino at Randall "Doc" James Racetrack on St. Croix.

According to the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management police blotter, which keeps a running log of calls made to emergency 911, emergency dispatchers received a call at 9:22 a.m. Thursday, reporting a robbery in progress at the establishment.

St. Croix Police Chief James Parris said initial reports indicate three masked gunmen stormed the racino area at the track and held up the workers at gunpoint, just as their workday was starting.

Parris said the gunmen robbed the tellers of a significant, but undisclosed amount of money before making their getaway from the area in a dark colored vehicle.

In their haste to make their getaway from the area following the robbery, the gunmen dropped some of the stolen cash on the ground as they ran, the chief said.

The racino opens at 10 a.m., so there were no patrons playing, and Parris said no one was injured in the robbery.

Parris said a V.I. Port Authority Police officer was the first officer who responded to the robbery, and that agency took the lead in the preliminary investigation and report on Thursday primarily because the track is located on property belonging to the Port Authority.

However, the officer shortly was joined by a number of V.I. Police officers, detectives, and forensic technicians who processed the scene and interviewed the shaken workers, Parris said. The law enforcement agencies will jointly continue the investigation.

Some workers had not yet arrived at the job site at the time of the robbery and waited anxiously outside the locked premises as law enforcement and track officials conducted their investigations.

Other residents who said they frequent the racino to gamble, also waited outside a few minutes, hoping to be able to try their luck on the machines just as the track opened, but they were turned away.

Several marked and unmarked police vehicles, off-duty police officers and Casino Control Commission vehicles were seen on the property.

Thursday's armed robbery comes exactly one month shy of the five-year anniversary of the 2009 armed robbery at the track that resulted in three people being arrested.

Monique Armstrong, 30, of Sion Farm, who was employed at the racetrack and racino; 36-year-old Jamie Roebuck, of Estate Whim; and 33-year-old Andre Buffong, of Tan Tan Terrace were arrested Oct. 31, 2009, on warrants by detectives from the Criminal Investigation Bureau. The three were charged with first-degree robbery; first-degree assault; robbery conspiracy; obtaining money under false pretenses; false reporting; and interfering with an officer discharging his duty in connection with the Aug. 17, 2009, robbery at the track.

The three were released on $100,000 bail and have each pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. They requested jury trials in November 2009, and the case has been assigned to V.I. Superior Court Judge Douglas Brady. However, as recently as May, several hearings and status conferences have taken place in the case, but no trial date has been set.

Parris said anyone with information about Thursday's robbery can contact police at 911 or call the confidential 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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