St. Croix man shot by police during robbery of grocery store arrested, charged in hospital


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ST. CROIX - The 45-year-old man shot during a robbery at Quality Food in Castle Coakley on Saturday afternoon was arrested Monday afternoon as he lay seriously wounded at Luis Hospital, where he remains too weak to be advised of his rights.

Edigberto Diaz, of Estate Profit was charged with first-degree robbery; third-degree assault; grand larceny; possession of stolen property; carrying a dangerous weapon during the commission of a violent crime; failure to report a firearm brought into the territory; and possession of ammunition.

V.I. Police Detective Cureen Smith appeared before Magistrate Jessica Gallivan on Tuesday and advised the court that while Diaz had been arrested on the charges, it would not have been possible to advise him of his rights because he was heavily medicated as part of the treatments he is undergoing for the gunshot wounds he sustained.

She said she did not know when he would be able to be advised and would keep the court informed as she was made aware by his treating physicians.

Defense attorney Yolan Brow Ross told the court that she was concerned that Diaz had been arrested when police were aware of the severity of his injuries. She said she will visit the hospital and investigate the situation to ensure that his rights of being advised of the charges against him and rights in the case in a timely fashion following his arrest are not violated.

According to police, emergency dispatchers were notified about the armed robbery just before 4 p.m. Saturday.

Police reported that they responded within minutes of the robbery call and encountered two men leaving the wholesale food service distributor that also includes a retail store.

The men were dressed in dark clothing, wearing masks and wielded handguns as they ran, according to police.

As the men saw officers approaching, they ran back into the establishment, then out through the shipment receiving door, police said.

Smith said officers reported that as they ordered the men to stop, one of the men - now identified as Diaz - pointed his firearm at the responding officers as he ran and the officer opened fire.

During the exchange of gunfire, the suspect was shot three times.

The second suspect fled into the bush in the Castle Coakley area and remained at large as of Tuesday afternoon.

According to a police statement following the robbery, two adults and a child were inside the business when it was robbed, but they were not injured.

According to the police report, one of the employees reported that they were in the store when two gunmen came in wearing masks and brandishing firearms. They ordered the workers to open the safe and give them all of the money and the keys to their vehicles, police said.

As the workers complied, the men also took two backpacks, which contained laptop computers and a cellular phone, before leaving the establishment with several thousand dollars, according to police.

Smith said Diaz was taken by ambulance to Luis Hospital, where he was treated for three gunshot wounds and remains in serious but stable condition.

Police said they are following leads regarding the location of the second suspect and ask residents to provide any information they may have about the robbery or the persons involved.

Saturday's shooting was the third officer-involved shooting for the V.I. Police Department reported in less than two months. The other two shootings were on St. Thomas.

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

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