April 15, 2002 – Territorial Court Judge Ive Swan set bail at $1 million Monday for a 20-year-old St. Thomas man charged with first-degree murder in two separate killings.
Wade "Yardie" Gumbs was arrested Friday night and charged with two counts of murder in the death of one man in December and another in February. He also faces various counts of firearms violations and first-degree assault with intent to kill.
If convicted of either of the first-degree murder charges, Gumbs will be sentenced to life in prison without parole. He is scheduled to enter pleas to the charges on April 25.
"It is an important arrest. This is a huge step forward in terms of safety for the people of St. Thomas," Attorney General Iver Stridiron said.
Gumbs is charged with shooting Rudolph Fleming in the head as Fleming drove a car along General Gade on Dec. 29. Police said the killing was linked to an ongoing turf war between residents of Savan, where Gumbs lived, and the Garden Street neighborhood.
According to police, one witness told them that Gumbs had accused Fleming of shooting at him earlier, and that an acquaintance called Gumbs "punk" for letting Fleming drive through Savan without doing anything. Gumbs then said he was going to kill Fleming and fired several shots at Fleming as he drove by, according to court documents.
Gumbs also was charged with first-degree murder Monday in connection with the shooting death of Darren "Oots" Gumbs — no relation to Wade Gumbs – on Feb. 8. Witnesses said the victim and several other people had been sitting in an apartment on Nye Nordsidevej watching a karate movie when Wade Gumbs came in and opened fire, stopping at one point to reload his gun.
Darren Gumbs died of several gunshots to the chest and another person was shot in the hand in that incident, according to court documents.
Stridiron noted that the V.I. Justice Department dropped two separate attempted-murder charges against Wade Gumbs last year. One case was dropped in May because James Furlong — the alleged victim and a key witness in one of those shootings — was killed in March 2001. The department asked for the other to be dismissed because the victim said he was afraid to testify against Gumbs, Assistant Attorney General Martin Alperen wrote in his motion for dismissal.
Stridiron said Monday that investigators were looking into the possibility that Gumbs may have ordered a hit on Furlong but that no charges had been filed in that case.
St. Thomas, with a population of about 50,000, had 18 homicides in 2001, giving the island a homicide rate more than seven times the national average. There have been six homicides on St. Thomas in the first three and a half months of 2002; as of this date last year, there had been five.
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