Police search for suspect in burglary shootout in Estate Bakkeroe
Published: February 15, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - A manhunt continued Thursday evening for a suspect - or suspects - involved in a predawn shootout with police while burglarizing a home in Estate Bakkeroe.
Acting V.I. Police Commissioner Rodney Querrard Sr. said Thursday that officers were dispatched to the residence at 3:16 a.m. after motion sensors triggered an alarm. Despite directions provided to officers by the alarm company, "the location was difficult to find," Querrard said.
When officers arrived, they saw a man inside the home, and they exchanged gunfire with a suspect - or suspects - who fired at the officers, Querrard said.
Whoever was inside the home fled on foot, Querrard said. Officers pursued but were unable to find anyone.
"I want this community to know, territory-wide, that the Police Department is not going to sit back and allow this disrespect for life and property to continue," Querrard said. "We will do everything within the law to deter the criminals living among us from continuing to terrorize our people."
Querrard said he did not know how many gunshots were fired.
He said no officers were injured, but it remained unclear whether the suspect or suspects might have been wounded. Blood was found in the home and leading into the brush, so police believe the suspect or suspects were injured during "entry, exit or other," Querrard said.
Police spokeswoman Melody Rames said the suspect remained at-large as of Thursday evening.
Querrard said the recent trend of increased violence against police officers is a widespread phenomenon throughout the Caribbean and the mainland U.S.
"This is a breakdown in general for mankind," Querrard said.
Querrard used the incident to ask alarm companies in the territory to make sure their addresses and directions are accurate.
"We are finding the information is old, the information is not accurate, and it's causing our officers to spend more time than necessary to find the location," he said. "Especially if a situation is serious, we need to get there as soon as possible."
The acting commissioner said police currently are dispatched to 911 calls strictly by radio.
A project involving the Lt. Governor's Office and the University of the Virgin Islands to implement a GPS addressing system in the territory still is in process, according to Querrard.
"As we all know, with modern technology I can go to Florida, get off in the Miami airport, rent a car and drive directly to a location I've never been to before due to the fact that we have this GPS system," he said. "We are in the process of working on that."
He also urged the community to unite against this type of violent behavior and to continue providing officers with information regarding suspects, even if they are family members.
"Let us say, 'Enough is enough,' " Querrard said. "Let us realize that tomorrow we might be the next victim."
Querrard described one suspect in the burglary a "dark black male" of slim build wearing a green bandana and a dark shirt with white writing. A more detailed description was not possible because of the early hour of the altercation.
"We have to work with what we have," Querrard said.
- Contact reporter Lou Mattei at 714-9124 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.