Shooting in St. Croix housing community leads to high-speed chase


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ST. CROIX - Police responding to a report of shots fired in the John F. Kennedy housing community late Tuesday wound up in a high-speed chase through several residential areas before two men were taken into custody.

Mario Felix, 24, and Elijah Smith, 20, both of La Grande Princesse were arrested on weapons and drug charges.

Felix and Smith were advised of their rights on Wednesday. Bail for each was set at $25,000, with a 10 percent provision and conditions set.

Police said Felix was the driver. He was charged with unauthorized possession of a firearm; possession of ammunition; operating a motor vehicle on public highways without a Virgin Islands drivers license; reckless driving; and possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

Police identified Smith as the passenger. He was charged with unauthorized possession of a firearm; possession of ammunition; and possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

The vehicle chase turned into a foot chase that resulted in a police officer discharging his weapon, but no one was injured.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed by V.I. Police Officer Rolando Huertes, he and his partner were dispatched at 11:08 p.m. Monday to a report of shots fired at JFK housing community.

When Huertes, his partner and another officer drove into the housing community, Huertes saw a blue Chevy S-10 pickup that was going fast and heading east near Building 3, he wrote.

When the truck drove in front of his marked police vehicle, Huertes saw two men who were not wearing seat belts inside, and he put on the police vehicle's lights and siren and tried to stop the pickup, according to the affidavit.

Instead of stopping, the truck sped up, and Huertes chased the vehicle and notified the emergency call center about the pursuit and where the Chevy pickup was traveling, he wrote.

The pickup headed northbound toward Golden Rock, sped through a red traffic light at Five Corners and continued west toward Little Princess Hill, when it made an abrupt right turn into La Grande Princesse at a high speed, according to the affidavit.

Huertes wrote that when the pickup made another turn, he saw what appeared to be a gun thrown out of the passenger side.

He notified backup units about seeing a gun discarded and the location, and another officer stopped and secured that area while the vehicle pursuit continued.

The pickup eventually turned onto North Side Road, still traveling at a high rate of speed, then made a right turn back into La Grande Princesse near One Love Service Station, heading northbound toward Judith's Fancy, and then turning toward the Estate St. John area, according to the affidavit.

Huertes said he saw another object being discarded from the driver's side of the pickup while the chase was going on, and again notified backup units of the location.

Eventually, the pickup returned to Northside Road, going east, and sideswiped several vehicles that were heading west, the affidavit states.

The pickup then turned into the "Everybody" Service Station, where it stopped, and the passenger jumped out of the truck and took off running behind the service station, according to Huertes.

Although the driver, who was also getting out of the vehicle, followed commands to lay on the ground with his hands where they could be seen, the passenger kept running, according to the affidavit.

Huertes said that he chased the passenger on foot behind the service station, when the man "suddenly turned his upper body towards me, with his left hand pointing in my direction, in a poorly lit area near some overgown brush."

Huertes said that because he could not clearly see what was in the man's hand, he feared for his life and fired several shots at the man as the man disappeared into the overgrown bush.

At that point, Huertes heard the man shout "I done. I done. Don't shoot. I give up," according to the affidavit. The man was then taken into custody.

According to the affidavit, police found a silver and black 9 mm Smith & Wesson pistol with 17 live rounds where officers saw the gun thrown from the vehicle and found a black plastic bag containing plastic sandwich bags with 65 grams of marijuana inside and a digital scale at the location where officers saw a second object tossed from the pickup.

- Contact Joy Blackburn at 714-9145 or email jblackburn@dailynews.vi.

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