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8 Men Arrested On 2 Islands For Celebratory Gunfire As Part Of Operation Eagle Eye

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Police arrested four men on St. Thomas and four men on St. Croix for illegally discharging firearms on New Year’s Eve.

Police Commissioner Trevor A. Velinor said the arrests came as a result of Operation Eagle Eye.

“Officers aggressively pursued residents who shot guns into the air, despite recent advisories by the VIPD against doing so,” Velinor said.

Police Commissioner Trevor A. Velinor and Assistant Police Commissioner Mario Brooks look on as Deputy Chief Ritchie Velazquez briefs the New Year’s Eve Patrol Team on Operation Eagle Eye at the Alexander A. Farrelly Justice Complex in Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas on Thursday.

At a press brief on St. Thomas on Friday, VIPD leadership displayed several firearms that were confiscated from residents who engaged in illegal possession and discharge of firearms.

“They went towards the illegal activity. They did not run from it,” Velinor said. “The operation was planned for several months. Officers were embedded into several communities, some officers were assigned to static visible positions, and other officers were in mobile units.

Police Chief Steven Phillip of the St. Thomas/ St. John district denounced the act of illegal gunfire, as he stated, “We have elderly individuals who wanted to go to church and had to hear these gunshots. That should not happen.” St. Croix Police Chief Sidney Elskoe commended the assertive engagement of his officers, stating, “Our officers recognize that our community deserves peace while embracing the new year.”

Among those arrested in the operation on St. Thomas was Jamari Forde, age 29 of Tutu Valley; Shomari Maximea, age 28 of Habetts Gade; and Trevor Martin, age 49 of Michael J. Kirwan Terrace.

On St. Croix, police arrested Dejani J. Sweeney, age 23 of Estate Glynn; 23-year-old Elvis M. Villar of Orange Grove; 27-year-old Cylton Grouby of Golden Grove; and Eustace E. Charles Jr., age 19 of Williams Delight.

Operation Eagle Eye resulted in the seizure of 17 firearms, to include high powered rifles and hand guns. Officers detained 16 individuals during the operation, resulting in eight arrests. Criminal charges include illegal possession of firearms, public endangerment, and illegal discharge of firearm.

CHARGED: Eustace E. Charles, Jr., 19, of Williams Delight in St. Croix (left) and Jamari Forde, 29, of Tutu Valley in St. Thomas.

Police Chiefs Elskoe and Phillip urge the community to call in with information on crimes by calling 911, the Criminal Investigation Bureau on St. Thomas at (340) 774-2211, the Crime Tip Line on St. Croix at (340) 778-4950, or anonymously at (800) 222-TIPS.

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