March 10, 2003 – A weekend of violence on St. Thomas left three men dead and another three wounded, including a police officer who was apparently shot by another officer during a confrontation with a knife-wielding man who later died from police gunfire.
The three fatalities brought the number of homicides to date this year to seven on St. Thomas and eight in the territory.
As of this time in 2002, which saw a record number of fatalities by year's end, the toll stood at three on St. Thomas and six territorywide.
Police shoot man in Vendors Plaza
Fernando Diaz, 26, was shot several times by police on Saturday at Vendors Plaza. He died a few hours later at Roy L Schneider Hospital. Officer Conrad Gilkes was treated at the hospital for a bullet wound to the leg and released.
Deputy Police Chief Theodore Carty said shootings are now the subject of two police investigations, one by Internal Affairs, the other by the Major Crimes Squad.
Carty gave this account of what occurred: "Officers were responding to a call in the Garden Street area. While they were traveling, they saw an individual running in the street, across the street from Vendors Plaza, in the westbound lane. He was apparently struck by a vehicle, so they stopped to inquire and they found he had a knife on him."
Carty said that as the officers pursued the man, later identified as Diaz, they tried several times to disarm him, ordered him to drop his weapon, then sprayed him with mace. "The suspect continued to get more aggressive," Carty said.
By the time the shooting started, three to four officers were on the scene. What happened after that, he said, is now the subject of the two investigations.
When the shots broke out, the Traditional Indians, a young people's V.I. Carnival troupe, was rehearsing nearby. At the shooting scene afterward, numerous bystanders criticized the gunfire, saying the victim had been disabled and was not a threat when officers opened fire. (See "Officer fatally shoots man at Vendors Plaza".)
Police Chief Novelle Francis declined to comment Monday on the shootings. "I don't have all the facts in the matter," he said, "and if there was any violation of police procedure, I would be the hearing officer in any hearing."
Man shot in Smith Bay bar dies
In the early morning hours of Saturday, two masked men forced their way into the Super Pool Bar in Smith Bay after closing time and accosted a group of patrons. "Apparently they were in there gambling," Carty said of the patrons.
One of patron, Conrad Brathwaite, was shot in the arms and legs, Carty said. He was taken to Schneider Hospital, where he died of his injuries Sunday morning. No one else was wounded in the bar shooting, according to Carty.
Shooting spree ends in death
Shortly before midnight Sunday, police responded to a call reporting shots fired at the Oswald Harris Court housing community. Near Building 3 they found three wounded men. "One of the victims was shot multiple times and expired at the scene," Carty said. The dead man was later identified as Alimore Winters.
The other two men, Garnett Hodge and Eugene Estridge, were hospitalized. Schneider Hospital spokeswoman Maureen Venzen reported both in stable condition Monday, but details about their injuries were not available.
With police facing the job of investigating all of the shootings, Carty was asked if the Police Department has enough resources to go around. He answered: "No."

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