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SIBLING RIVALRY: Miami Cop Killer And Mass Murderer Come From The Same St. Croix Family

ishnael labeet


FREDERIKSTED – Ishmael and Shawn Labeet were half brothers in a brood of 19 fathered by the same man in St. Croix.

They’re nearly 30 years apart — but they had three things in common: They each killed multiple people with machine guns, and they each made daring escapes from police.

In September 1972, Ishmael Labeet led four masked men wearing fatigues out of the bushes surrounding the then-Rockefeller-owned Fountain Valley country club in St. Croix. They sprayed a dining patio with gunfire, then rounded up a group of people, telling eight to kneel while they executed them.

Two were Eastern Airlines workers, who had just finished a round of golf, on vacation with their spouses, who also were shot execution-style. Four worked at the country club.

Labeet had fired at police months earlier as they attempted to arrest him on assault charges, instead fleeing into the hills, according to published reports.

The five men were convicted of murder and given life sentences in 1973. Labeet was sent to some of the toughest prisons on the mainland in Marion, Ill., and Atlanta. At one, he spent 90 days in solitary and filed suit protesting his treatment. He returned to the island for the trial in 1984 and won $12,000 in damages.

After his court victory, on New Year’s Eve, three armed guards were escorting him back to the mainland and prison aboard an American Airlines jet with 198 passengers on board. Labeet feigned illness to retrieve a gun planted in the bathroom and ordered the pilot to Cuba. It’s not known who planted the gun.

After Cuban authorities met Labeet on the tarmac, passengers flew to New York. They were scared but uninjured. They described Labeet as calm and polite during the hijacking.

“He was real nice about everything,” Travis Wright, a 17-year-old high school student told The Miami Herald in 1985. “At one point he knew we must be getting tired of holding our arms over our heads, so he asked a stewardess to announce that it was OK to drop our arms, relax a bit and watch the in-flight movie.”

Ishmael Labeet hasn’t been seen since in the United States, but it is widely-known that he is still living comfortably in Castro-controlled Cuba.

ishmael labeet

Mass murderer Ishmael Labeet in Cuba

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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