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St. Croix Man Gets Probation For Having Loaded Semi-Automatic Weapon In A School Zone

CHRISTIANSTED — A St. Croix man who had a loaded semi-automatic weapon in a Frederiksted supermarket has been handed a sentence of probation by a federal judge.

Samuel Melendez, 43, was sentenced on November 21 after being convicted of possession of firearm in a school zone, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said on Friday.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Wilma Lewis sentenced Melendez to five years of federal probation, a $1000 fine and ordered Melendez to pay a special assessment of $100.

According to court documents, on October 8, 2018, Virgin Island Police department officers responded to the H & R Supermarket in Frederiksted after receiving a report concerning an individual brandishing a firearm.

During a pat down search, police found that Melendez had a Jimenez Arms .380 semi-automatic pistol near the Frederiksted vegetable market, which is within 1,000 feet of St. Patrick’s Elementary School.

The firearm was tested and found to be operable. Melendez did not have a valid license to possess a firearm, and the firearm had moved in and affected interstate commerce.

The case was investigated by the Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD) and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa P. Ortiz.

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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everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling.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 50 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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