Tip leads St. Croix police to AK-47 and marijuana

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ST. CROIX - Quick thinking by a resident and fast response by police may have averted a serious assault or even death early Friday morning when police detained two men with a loaded assault rifle in their possession.

V.I. Police Officer Gregory Bennerson arrested Shaquan Prentice, 19, of Lorraine Village housing community, and Shaquille Correa, 18, of Williams Delight just after midnight Friday morning.

According to the police report filed in V.I. Superior Court, Bennerson said he responded to a call about midnight of a suspicious white vehicle casing an area on Main Street in the Williams Delight housing community.

He said residents provided the description of the White Toyota Corolla and its license plate number to police and asked for assistance.

When Bennerson arrived in the housing community, he saw a vehicle matching the description and tried to conduct a traffic stop by activating his lights and siren, according to his affidavit.

Bennerson said the vehicle stopped, and he asked the driver to produce vehicle documents, but the driver - later identified as Prentice - looked at him, then slammed the car door and drove off.

A chase ensued and continued for a short distance, before the driver complied, pulling over and getting out of the car, according to the affidavit.

Officers searched the driver and his passenger - now identified as Correa - and found two vials of marijuana in Prentice's left pocket and a sandwich bag of marijuana in another pocket, according to the police report.

While another officer was searching Correa, Bennerson saw 12 more vials of marijuana on the driver's side floor of the vehicle, according to the report.

Officers asked the men whether they had any weapons in the car, and the men said no and gave police consent to search the car, which turned out to be a rental Prentice said was borrowed from a friend, according to Bennerson.

When the second officer searched the car, he found an AK-47 assault rifle with an obliterated serial number partially covered with a towel on the back seat of the car, according to the affidavit. The rifle's magazine was loaded with 30 rounds, and officers found a second magazine loaded with 30 additional rounds, the report said.

The two men were advised of their rights by Magistrate Jessica Gallivan on Friday on charges of unauthorized possession of a firearm; failure to report a firearm brought into the territory; alteration of identifying marks on a firearm; and possession of ammunition. Prentice was additionally charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute; operating a vehicle without a driver's license; and operating a vehicle with illegal window-tinting.

Gallivan set bail at $100,000 for both men and required that they fully secure the bail with cash before they are can be released on other conditions.

Both men remain jailed, unable to meet the conditions of their release set by the court.

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

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