St. Thomas police arrest man in Oswald Harris Court slaying


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ST. THOMAS - A little more than a week after the shooting and killing of a 29-year-old man, V.I. police have arrested a suspect in the St. Thomas-St. John District's first homicide of 2014.

Police arrested Akebo Thomas, 40, on Tuesday and charged him with first- and second-degree murder, first- and third-degree assault, reckless endangerment and four counts of unauthorized possession of a weapon during a violent crime.

The arrest was based on a warrant issued by V.I. Superior Court Judge Adam Christian, according to a prepared statement issued Tuesday by V.I. Police Commissioner Rodney Querrard Sr.

Thomas was arrested in connection with the death of 29-year-old Avery Hodge, who was shot multiple times about 9 p.m. Jan. 3 in the Oswald Harris Court housing community.

Hodge died at 9:41 p.m. Jan 4. His funeral is scheduled for Thursday.

Police responded to shots fired on Jan. 3 and found Hodge laying in the archway of Building 20, according to V.I. Police spokeswoman Melody Rames.

Several people were said to have witnessed the incident, or have been in the area, Rames said after the shooting.

It is unclear whether witnesses have come forward at this point.

Hodge's death came just days after the territory's first homicide of 2014, the shooting death of 27-year-old Francisco Rivera on St. Croix. No suspects have been arrested in connection with Rivera's murder at this time.

In his statement about Thomas' arrest, Querrard commended his officers and thanked the members of the community who came forward leading to the arrest.

"This is another example of a community and a police department, along with the Attorney General's Office and courts, working together to achieve one goal, an expedited arrest of a dangerous perpetrator reducing the chance of another retaliatory murder," he said. "For 2014, I am asking for the full support of all of you, territory-wide, in passing on information you may have on this murder or any murder or crime. The information you may have might be the piece to the puzzle we need to make an arrest in past crimes, recent or old. We as a community have to say enough is enough."

Anyone with information about either of the murders can call detectives at 714-9834, 715-5522 or 911 or call the Crime Stoppers USVI anonymous tip line at 1-800-222-8477.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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