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2 VIWMA-Contracted Males Removing Trash From Tutu Bin Site Shot Dead … 1 Victim Was 14 Years Old: VIPD

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Two Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority contracted workers — one of them below the legal age allowed to work — were brutally shot dead while attempting to remove garbage from a closed bin site in Estate Tutu this afternoon, authorities and social media said.

Rique “Bigsmarts” Ashby, 29, of Charlotte Amalie and his cousin Aaron Ashby, 14, were shot multiple times near Building 13 of the shuttered Tutu Hi Rise housing project about 12:57 p.m. today, the Virgin Islands Police Department said. Tutu Hi Rise was destroyed by Hurricane Maria on September 6, 2017.

“Officers traveled to the area and found two black males with gunshot wounds,” VIPD spokesman Toby Derima said. “Emergency Medical Technicians on the scene concluded that one of the victims had no signs of life.”

The second victim was taken from the scene by ambulance to the Schneider Regional Medical Center where he later died, according to Derima.

Derima, when pointedly asked by the Virgin Islands Free Press tonight which victim had died first, the minor or the adult, politely declined to answer the question.

Rique “Bigsmarts” Ashby, 29, on Facebook.

Meanwhile, the local waste management authority said it “is in shock and morning [sic] at the shooting deaths” of two workers who were removing solid waste from a bin site in Estate Tutu on St. Thomas this afternoon.

The “two young men, who work directly with A-9 Trucking, a company contracted to oversee the Bovoni Landfill, were gunned down in broad daylight today,” according to VIWMA.

“This is a horrific incident,” VIWMA Interim Executive Director Ann Hanley said. “The young men were operating heavy equipment trying to clean an area of residential solid waste when they were met with a violent end. We are in shock and disbelief that these two hard-working young men are gone.”

The VIWMA staff and contractors said that they “send their deepest condolences and prayers to the members of the A-9 family and to the immediate family of the murdered young men.”

“May our most merciful Lord give you strength as you navigate through this most difficult time,” Hanley said.

Rique “Bigsmarts” Ashby on Facebook.

St. Thomas-St. John Chief of Police Steven Phillip also decried this latest incident of gun violence and appealed to the community for information to help solve this crime.

“We are asking our residents to find alternate ways of resolving disputes. Using guns is never the right way,” Phillip said. “As we always say, if you see something, say something.”

Meanwhile, the VIPD said it will soon be announcing that reward money will be offered for information leading to the arrest of the individual or individuals responsible for the ‘heinous” shootings of the Ashby’s.

“We’re going to utilize all the tools that we have to investigate this matter,” Police Commissioner Trevor A. Velinor said. “We have two members of our community that were killed and we want to get to the bottom of it and we want to hold those who committed this heinous act accountable.”

Persons with information are urged to contact police by calling 911, the Criminal Investigation Bureau at (340) 774-2211 extension 5569, or anonymously to Crime Stoppers USVI at (800) 222-TIPS.

The Tutu Hi Rise garbage bin site on St. Thomas before it was cleared by VIWMA.

It is a common practice for Virgin Islanders to bring their relatives to work with them on their jobs, often their own children as young as 12 years old.

U.S. Department of Labor child labor regulations are not typically enforced in the territory.

Governor Albert Bryan, Jr. was the Labor Commissioner for eight years under former Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr.

Bryan is personally responsible for hand-picking the people who currently work for the VIWMA.

Tutu Hi Rise after Hurricane Maria in 2017. (Photo courtesy: New York Times)

On social media tonight, not everyone agreed with the V.I. Free Press mentioning that one of the VIWMA contracted workers was a teenager.

“What The Fuck does the working status of the younger victim have to do with this crime?!” Anna Quintero said on Facebook. “Looking for your next story eh? You are reminiscent of an AMBULANCE CHASER…”

Others, though, disagreed with the contentious Quintero, who doesn’t say on social media where she lives.

“WTF??? !!! This government has to resign together with (the) police chief!” Tetyana Hayes said from St. Thomas. “This can’t continue like this? More people died from gun violence than from COVID! They shooting kids now?!”

“Nooooo!!!!” St. Thomas community leader and social media influencer Priscilla Lynn said on Facebook.

“RIP,” Lloyd Maynard, a social worker with the Virgin Islands Department of Education said on St. Thomas.

A-9 Trucking dubs itself as a “family-owned” business in St. Thomas operating on the four major U.S. Virgin Islands — but on its Internet website it does not mention its physical address in Rock City or St. Croix.

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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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