Quick response leads St. Croix police to apprehend man with loaded firearm

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ST. CROIX - Quick police response may have averted what could have turned out to be a tragic situation Saturday morning in Frederiksted when officers apprehended a man with a loaded firearm.

Joshua Ledesma, 20, of Upper Love was arrested at 8:43 a.m. Saturday and charged with unauthorized possession of a firearm; possession of stolen property; and third-degree assault as an act of domestic violence.

He was advised of his rights on Monday by Magistrate Jessica Gallivan, who said that because of her familiarity with the victim in the case, she would recuse herself from setting bail or other release conditions.

According to the probable cause fact sheet filed by V.I. Police Officer Mario Christian, a woman called police from the office where she works in Frederiksted and reported that Ledesma was outside and had a firearm.

She told police that she and Ledesma had gotten into an argument earlier that morning at her home and he threatened her with a firearm, pointing it at her stomach and said he was going to kill her.

She said he then left, and when he showed up at her job hours later, she suspected he still had the firearm and called police because she was afraid that he had come to shoot her.

When officers arrived within minutes of the call, they found Ledesma waiting for the woman, and a search revealed a handgun tucked into his front pocket of his pants, police said. The gun later was determined to be a firearm reported stolen from La Grange, Ga., according to police.

During the Ledesma's advice-of-rights hearing, Gallivan initially met with the defense and prosecuting attorneys at sidebar to advise them of the conflict and her intentions to recuse herself from setting bail or conditions.

When Assistant Public Defender Venetia Velasquez advised Ledesma of the issue, he became irate, yelling in the courtroom.

"Nah man, that's not right. Look she there, she could just drop the charges," he said turning and pointing at the victim, who was sitting at the back of the courtroom with a victim's advocate from the V.I. Police Department.

Even as his father, who was in the gallery tried to signal to Ledesma to calm down, he was ushered out of the courtroom by two deputy marshals and placed back in a holding cell. He could be heard yelling and screaming and banging his handcuffed hands against the metal doors in the prisoner's passage.

Once Ledesma had calmed down, he was brought back out to be advised of his rights, then Velasquez and Assistant Attorney General Charlotte Poole Davis agreed that bail could be set at $25,000 and he could be allowed to post the 10 percent provision and be released to the custody of his father. They also agreed that Ledesma be placed on 24-hour house arrest with the use of an electronic monitoring device and have no direct or indirect contact with the woman who filed the report.

Gallivan said because the parties had independently come to the agreement and it was not left to her discretion, she would grant the proposed release order submitted on Ledesma's behalf.

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

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