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VIPD: ‘Celebratory Gunfire’ Will Not Be Permitted This New Year’s Eve

STT - Overview of gunfire discharge New Year's Eve 2014

Aerial view of gunfire in St. Thomas Dec. 31, 2014

FREDERIKSTED – The Virgin Islands Police Department says that it has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to celebratory gunfire.

“Not only is celebratory gunfire illegal, but it is dangerous,” the VIPD said in a written statement. “The consequences and risks of celebratory gunfire can be significant and serious.”

The police department said “celebratory gunfire or the discharge of a firearm into the air in celebration is both illegal and extremely dangerous.”

“The intention may be a celebratory shot toward the sky, but the consequences of that moment can be disastrous for a neighbor or someone blocks away – what goes up…must come down.”

The Virgin Islands Police Department uses a high-tech software program called ShotSpotter, which provides law enforcement with “real-time” access to gunfire being discharged within particular dense population areas throughout the territory.

The VIPD provided aerial maps of St. Thomas and St. Croix that show exactly where gunfire was discharged on New Year’s Eve in 2014.

Police say that they are “committed to a policy of zero tolerance of illegal gun use and our mission is to protect the quality of life for all residents throughout our community by creating an environment of enhanced safety and security.”

During the upcoming holiday period, the police department will be deploying patrol officers in specific areas of the territory that have the highest amount of illegal gun activity as recorded by ShotSpotter on New Year’s Eve last year.

Officers will respond to all ShotSpotter activations throughout the islands, and particularly in those areas, and will arrest anyone caught discharging a firearm in public.

As usual, officers will be deployed throughout the territory to maintain the peace, prevent crime and violence, and arrest drunk drivers.

“Celebratory gunfire is dangerous — it can cost somebody their life, and the Virgin Islands Police Department urges you to, do not do it,” the police department said. “If you do, be advised that we will use all our resources to find who you are and to prosecute you, and if you know or see someone who’s discharging Celebratory Gunfire, call 911 immediately.”

Charges for discharging a firearm in the territory can range anywhere from a misdemeanor to a felony that can result in one being sentenced to years in prison.

Isolated pockets had already reported celebratory gunfire today such as Flamboyant Welcome in St. Croix where at least two shots were discharged at dawn on Dec. 31, 2015, according to area residents who contacted the Virgin Islands Free Press.

STX - Overview of gunfire discharge New Year's STX 2014

Ariel view of gunfire on St. Croix Dec. 31, 2014.

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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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