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Federal Judge Gives St. Croix’s Nathaniel Thomas 23 Years For Sunny Isle Shootout

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CHRISTIANSTED – A St. Croix man who engaged in a shootout at a Sunny Isle Gas Station in 2016 was given 23 years in prison by a federal judge.

U.S. District Court Judge Wilma Lewis on Friday sentenced Nathaniel Thomas, Jr. to eight years imprisonment for possession of a firearm by a felon, fifteen years imprisonment for unauthorized possession of a firearm, and five years imprisonment for reckless endangerment, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said.

The firearm sentences were imposed consecutively and the reckless endangerment sentence was imposed con-currently with the others. Judge Lewis also ordered Thomas to pay a fine of $2,000.00 and a special assessment of $100.00.

On March 13, 2018, a federal jury convicted Thomas after a two-day trial.

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 of May 15, 2016. He was followed by people in a Ford Explorer. Thomas stopped his car, came out and hid between nearby vehicles as the Explorer reversed direction.

At this point shots were being discharged. When the Explorer started to leave the service station, Thomas emerged and chased the Explorer on foot while discharging shots in the direction of the Explorer. He subsequently
returned to his vehicle and left the scene.

People in the area ran for cover and hid during the shooting. At least 50 spent shell casings were recovered from the crime scene, many of which were on the nearby Queen Mary Highway.

The Explorer collided with two vehicles and came to rest nearby. Bullet holes were discovered in the windshield, on
the driver and passenger sides, and at the rear of the Explorer.

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

Thomas faces additional federal charges stemming from his alleged escape on March 15, 2018 from the Golden Grove Correctional Facility, following his conviction two days earlier for the May 2016 shooting episode in St. Croix.

Federal law enforcement agents located Thomas on April 7, 2018 in Puerto Rico.

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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