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CITIZENS FIGHT BACK! Social Media And VIPD Team Up To Snare Suspect Hours After Shotgun Robbery Heist

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — People on St. Thomas said “enough is enough” and used social media to help police track down at least one person of interest in a shotgun robbery of a jewelry store on Saturday.

The 911 Emergency Call Center dispatched officers to Gold Corner, a jewelry store located on the waterfront, in reference to an armed robbery about 9:34 a.m. Saturday, the Virgin Islands Police Department said.

The employees of the store reported to police that two masked men, dressed in all black, exited a white Suzuki Vitara armed with rifles, according to the VIPD.

“The two men entered the store brandishing firearms,” VIPD spokesman Toby Derima said. “The suspects assaulted an employee and threatened others. They proceeded to break the showcases and took jewelry from the store before fleeing the area.”

With the help of citizens on social media, VIPD launched a dragnet for the suspectsm Derima said. During the course of the investigation, officers recovered ammunition, stolen jewelry, and other evidence related to the robbery.

At approximately 2:28 p.m., one of the suspects, 23-year-old Jamari Benjamin of Estate Nadir, was arrested, and charged with 1st Degree Robbery, 2nd Degree Robbery, 1st Degree Assault, Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm, Aiding and Abetting, Conspiracy, Grand Larceny, Possession of Stolen Property and Disturbance of the Peace.

This investigation is still ongoing, the VIPD said.

St. Thomas/St. John Chief of Police Steven Phillip stated, “I commend my officers who followed leads in pursuit of those who committed this bold and brazen act,” St. Thomas/St. John Chief of Police Steven Phillip said. “We will continue to investigate to ensure the perpetrators are held accountable for their criminal acts.” 

Benjamin was once a star guard for the Charlotte Amalie High School basketball team.

And he was a member of the V.I. Ballers 19 and under team that went 5-0 to win the AAU Memorial Day Classic basketball tournament at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports venue in Orlando, Florida in May of 2015.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call 911, the Criminal Investigation Bureau at (340) 774-2211 extension 5610, or Crime Stoppers USVI at 1 (800) 222-8477.

All individuals listed as arrested or charged with a crime in excerpts of this official VIPD press release are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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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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