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Navy Sailor And Former USC Scholarship Athlete Lessroy Gumbs Charged In Assault Rifle Shooting Of Marshal

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — A U.S. Navy sailor has been charged in connection with a shooting incident that left a Superior Court marshal seriously wounded this week.

Prosecutors have charged Lessroy Gumbs, 27, with attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault, third-degree assault, reckless endangerment, possession of an unlicensed firearm, possession of an unlicensed firearm during the commission of a violent crime, brandishing or exhibiting a firearm, using or carrying a dangerous weapon and unauthorized possession of a firearm within 1,000 feet of a public housing community, according to probable cause documents filed in Superior Court.

Superior Court Magistrate Carolyn Hermon-Percell set bond at $150,000 cash or property, with 24-hour electronic monitoring and third-party custodial requirements as conditions of release. Gumbs is required to surrender all travel documents upon release.

Gumbs surrendered to police about 4 p.m. on Thursday, according to court documents.

Video surveillance recorded Tuesday morning at 1st Stop shows Gumbs opening fire with an AR-style assault rifle during an altercation-turned-gunfight, according to an affidavit written by V.I. police detective Jamaal Fleming.

Junior Clarke, a Superior Court marshal assigned to duty at the Virgin Islands Supreme Court, was seriously injured in the exchange, the VIPD said.

The incident began after Gumbs and another man pulled up to 1st Stop in a white Sport Utility Vehicle, Fleming wrote. As they approached the store, a verbal altercation began between the men in the SUV and a group of men seated along a nearby wall. The two men from the SUV lifted their shirts to show black guns at their waste-bands, according to Fleming.

Clarke is seen on the video trying to de-escalate the situation, Fleming wrote.

Another man charged in the incident, Shamari Elmes, 29, brandished a handgun and pointed it at Gumbs, at which point, Gumbs went back to the car, opened the trunk and removed an assault rifle, Fleming wrote.

“Mr. Gumbs is observed firing the high-power assault rifle at Mr. Elmes, and Mr. Elmes is struck in his left leg with a bullet,” he wrote. “During the shooting, Deputy Marshal J. Clarke is also shot in his abdominal area and then transported to Schneider Regional Medical Center to seek medical treatment.”

Elmes was charged Wednesday morning with first-degree assault, reckless endangerment, third-degree assault and possession of a firearm during a violent crime.

At Gumbs’s advice-of-rights hearing on Friday, Hermon-Percell asked how Gumbs was identified.

Fleming testified that officers had traced the license plate number visible in the video to a Budget rental vehicle. Budget paperwork shows Gumbs’s name on the rental agreement.

Investigators next ran Gumbs’s name through Facebook, and spotted a picture of Gumbs in clothing matching that seen on the video, Fleming said.

The shooting occurred on Gumbs’s birthday, according to police.

Prosecutors asked Hermon-Percell to set a $200,000 cash-only bond requirement.

V.I. Assistant Attorney General Eugene Connor Jr. told the court Gumbs was both a flight risk and -— over objections from Gumbs’s attorney Andrew Capdeville -— a threat to the community.

“This defendant did surrender voluntarily to us,” Connor said, but noted that he did not surrender any weapons to police.

The statement drew objection from Capdeville, which were sustained by Hermon-Percell.

“That voluntary surrender is what it is, but it’s limited to that,” Connor said.

Connor said the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is investigating Gumbs for weapons trafficking, and an ATF agent is willing to testify to the investigation, which drew further objection from Capdeville.

“That would be even beyond my jurisdiction,” Hermon-Percell responded.

Capdeville asked Hermon-Percell for a $150,000 bond requirement, but asked that the court grant a 10 percent provision, which would allow Gumbs’s family to put up $15,000 to secure his release. Gumbs’s sister, Shamara Capitolin, testified the family would be unable to muster the full $150,000.

“He’s a good boy,” she said, of Gumbs. “Like many other young men growing up in St. Thomas, it’s hard, but he survived.”

Gumbs has no prior criminal record, and is enlisted in the U.S. Navy, according to attorneys. Before joining the Navy, he attended the University of Southern California (USC) on an athletic scholarship before breaking his leg in two places during basketball practice, Capitolin said.

Gumbs’s command has been notified of his arrest, Connor said.

Hermon-Percell rejected the 10 percent request.

“I do consider you a flight risk,” she told Gumbs. “Based on the allegations, the court considers you a danger.”

After Hermon-Percell gave the bail amount, Capdeville asked about the 10 percent provision.

“He has a right to bail, your honor,” he said.

“I’ve set the bail,” Hermon-Percell responded. “At this time, I’m not inclined to grant his 10 percent.”

Gumbs’s arraignment has been scheduled for 9 a.m. May 23.

Shamari Elmes, 22 was arrested by police about noon on Tuesday. Elmes has been with first-degree assault, third-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and possession of a firearm during a crime of violence.

Junior Clarke was seriously injured in a shooting Tuesday as he was trying to defuse a verbal altercation between groups of men, according to court documents.

Clarke remained in the hospital Wednesday following treatment for a gunshot sustained to his abdomen. He underwent surgery Tuesday and was treated at Schneider Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.

To date, police have sought Elmes, Gumbs and a third man, 22-year-old James “Gogettah” Nathaniel for questioning in the shooting of Clarke.

Nathaniel remains at large and the VIPD put out a wanted poster on him Saturday afternoon.

U.S. Navy sailor Lessroy Gumbs on Facebook.

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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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