St. Croix business funds $10,000 reward for tips leading to credit union robbers


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ST. CROIX - In light of a number of daylight armed robberies targeting businesses in recent months, one local business has made a $10,000 donation to the V.I. Police Department to be used as a reward for anyone who provides information leading to the arrest of the persons responsible for the assault and robbery at the Mid-Island Credit Union a week ago.

St. Croix Police Chief James Parris said Thursday that the donation from the business, which wants to remain anonymous, hopefully will encourage residents to come forward with the information needed for investigators to find the persons responsible for the violent and callous crimes.

"We are making inroads into this investigation. We have a number of really great leads, and hopefully we can get some information to help us put a cap on this," he said.

According to police, someone in or near the Credit Union Office in Castle Coakley called the 911 Emergency Dispatch Center at 9:11 a.m. Aug. 8 to report the robbery.

Witnesses told police that three armed men with shirts covering their faces entered the business and demanded money and asked the employees to open the safe.

The employees replied by saying that the business did not have a safe and that no money was kept at the location.

The gunmen forced their way into the teller area of the office, where they searched unsuccessfully for cash before one of the men struck a female employee in the head with his gun, police said.

The suspects then robbed another employee and a customer of cash and a cellphone before leaving the area in a red sedan, according to police.

Already this year, armed men have staged four other daytime robberies of businesses on St. Croix:

- On Aug. 9, the day following the credit union robbery, masked gunmen stormed the Crucian Gold jewelry store in Christiansted and made their getaway with an undisclosed amount of cash and jewelry.

- On July 17, three masked gunmen robbed the racino at Randall "Doc" James Racetrack of thousands of dollars just after 9 a.m. Police still are searching for the robbers.

- On June 21, just before 4 p.m., two armed men were seen by police fleeing the Quality Food store in Castle Coakley, and police shot one of the men, who they said pointed a gun at them. Both men were caught and arrested a few days after the robbery

- On March 21, an armed 16-year-old boy robbed the Banco Popular in Orange Grove about 11:20 a.m. and fled, dropping the money bag when a dye-marker inside exploded. Police apprehended the boy less than a mile away from the bank about 10 minutes after the robbery.

Police Commissioner Rodney Querrard Sr. encouraged residents to speak up about any information they may have about any crime in the territory, saying that their silence could result in them falling victim to the same perpetrators at a later date.

"Each time something happens, somebody knows what happens. To remain silent is giving the green light for these people to continue destroying the very fabric of our community," he said.

Anyone with information about any of the robberies can call detectives at 712-6031, 712-6024 or 911 or call the anonymous 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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