Police arrest 3 men in connection with January shooting at Passions Night Club

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ST. CROIX - Three men arrested during the weekend in connection with a shooting at Passions Night Club in January were advised of their rights on weapon and ammunition charges Monday morning.

Lionel Woodley, 28, and Ozanie Cornelius, 19, both of Old Castle Coakley, and Mikhail Munoz, 26, of Campo Rico, each appeared before Magistrate Miguel Camacho. They faced charges in connection with items found when police executed three separate search and arrest warrants starting before daybreak Friday at the homes where the men live.

Woodley was charged with unauthorized possession of a firearm; carrying or using a deadly weapon; failure to report a firearm brought into the territory; possession of ammunition; reckless endangerment; and making a false report to police. He faces a maximum of 25 years in prison if he is convicted of all the charges against him.

Munoz was charged with unauthorized possession of a firearm; possession of ammunition; and failure to report a firearm brought into the territory and faces up to 15 years in prison if tried and convicted on the charges.

Cornelius was charged with possession of control substances and possession of ammunition after police said crack cocaine, marijuana and a magazine for a firearm was found in his home.

According to police, about 5 a.m. Friday, police began executing search warrants for the men as part of the investigation into shots being fired inside the Passion Night Club in Mount Welcome about 4 a.m. Jan. 14. A number of unmarked police vehicles and armed officers were spotted in the residential areas where the men live, and police vehicles were seen snaking across the island in a massive motorcade as the operation wrapped up just before 8 a.m. Friday.

Woodley was the only person injured in the shooting incident, and police have determined that he was injured by bullets from his own gun and made a false report about what happened and how he got shot to cover up his actions.

When he appeared in court Monday, Woodley still was suffering from the injuries he sustained in the shooting and used crutches to move around in the courtroom.

V.I. Police spokeswoman Melody Rames said police were in the vicinity of the nightclub when they heard popping sounds and saw people running from the club. Officers entered the club and witnesses told them that the singer who was on stage at the time was shot and left the club.

Rames said the officers saw the victim - later identified as Woodley - outside the club before he was taken to Luis Hospital in a private vehicle. Officers spoke to Woodley at the hospital, and he told them he was on stage singing when he realized he was shot. Detectives following up on the case uncovered evidence from surveillance video that showed Woodley with a concealed firearm which discharged while he was performing, causing the injuries to his leg.

She said the video surveillance also showed Cornelius and Munoz carrying concealed weapons inside the night club, and police determined that none of the men are licensed to carry firearms in the territory.

Bail for Munoz was set at $60,000; Woodley's bail was set at $35,000; and bail for Cornelius was set at $10,000.

Following their advice-of-rights hearing Monday, Camacho allowed each man to be released to a third-party custodian on 24-hour house arrest with the posting of the bail.

Unable to meet the full requirements of the bail by Monday afternoon, they remain jailed at Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility.

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

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