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Federal Jury Convicts Nathaniel Thomas of Shootout At Sunny Isle Gas Station … He Faces 20 Years In Prison

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CHRISTIANSTED – A federal jury reached a guilty verdict on Tuesday in the case of a St. Croix man involved in a 2016 shootout at a Sunny Isle gas station.

After a two-day trial, the jury found Nathaniel “JahReek” Thomas, Jr., 28, of St. Croix, guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of a firearm and reckless endangerment, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said.

Thomas faces up to 10 years in prison for the felon in possession count of conviction, a mandatory minimum of fifteen years and up to twenty years in prison on the unlawful possession count and up to five years in prison on the reckless endangerment count.

According to the evidence presented at trial, Thomas drove a vehicle into the Gas For Less Service Station on St. Croix in the early morning hours on May 15, 2016.

He was followed by individuals in a Ford Explorer. Thomas stopped his car, came out and hid between nearby vehicles as the Explorer shifted into reverse. At this point shots were being discharged. When the Explorer started
to leave the service station, Thomas chased the Explorer on foot while discharging shots toward the vehicle. He subsequently returned to his own vehicle and left the scene.

People in the area ran for cover and hid during the shooting. Over fifty spent shell casings were subsequently
recovered from the crime scene, many of which were located on the nearby Queen Mary Highway.

After the shooting episode, the Explorer collided with two vehicles and came to rest nearby. Bullet holes were discovered in the windshield, on the driver side, and at the rear of the Explorer.

Trial testimony established that Thomas was not authorized to possess a firearm and had previously
been convicted of a felony offense.

The case was investigated by the Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD) and by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alphonso G. Andrews, Jr.


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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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