Two men and a male juvenile were arrested Sunday in connection with the Saturday armed robbery and subsequent shooting of two Virgin Islands Police Department officers.
The department announced Monday that detectives from the Criminal Investigation Bureau arrested Alphonso J. "Country Black" Butler Jr., 23, about 7:45 a.m.; Melville Parris, 52, a few minutes before 6 p.m.; and a 16-year-old male, all on Sunday.
Bail for the adult suspects was set at $500,000 each, which they were unable to post. Butler and Parris were remanded to the custody of the Golden Grove Correctional Facility. The teen was remanded to the Youth Rehabilitation Center.
Police said they are still searching for additional suspects.
According to police, officers received a report at about 8:40 p.m. Saturday that three armed men had entered the Cane Bay restaurant, robbing patrons of their cash and jewelry. Shots were reportedly fired during the robbery but no one was injured there, police said. The suspects fled in a gray compact car.
Police established several road blocks and conducted other initiatives to identify, locate and arrest the suspects. St. Croix Police Chief Christopher Howell and Officer Elsworth Jones were on one such roadblock when a vehicle approached and opened fire.
Howell was shot in the left arm and lower back and Jones' face was injured by shrapnel and gunfire, according to personnel at the Juan F. Luis Memorial Hospital. Monday they continued to be listed in stable condition, according to VIPD Public Information Officer Melody Rames.
Criminal Investigation Bureau detectives said a citizen provided police with a tip that "proved to be crucial" to the apprehension of Butler, the first suspect arrested. Butler was apprehended without incident Sunday morning in the Frangiapani section of Mon Bijou.
Police said that when he was arrested, Butler was carrying a large amount of cash and ammunition.
Butler lives in the Mutual Homes apartments in Estate Grove Place. Police said he has a criminal record and is on probation.
Continued investigation by the detectives led officers to request a warrant for the arrest of Parris. Also known as "Libber," Parris lives in Estate Grove Place, and officers said Parris has an "extensive" criminal record and was recently released from jail.
Police Commissioner Henry W. White Jr. said federal partners augmented the VIPD in the search of the suspects, providing air, land and sea support by the Coast Guard, Homeland Security and agents from the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, but the commissioner credited the VIPD and the Virgin Islands community for the capture and arrest of the suspects.
"It has been the proudest moment I've had since becoming a part of the VIPD," White said. "I had the opportunity to see firsthand the officers respond to two critical incidents almost simultaneously. Both crime scenes and subsequent investigations were conducted with the utmost professionalism. The training acquired by the officers was clearly evident as they conducted a 'full court press' at both crime scenes."
White added that the investigation into a second Saturday night incident, the shooting murder of Ecliff James, is actively being investigated.
"Officers are examining forensic information gathered at the scene and are aggressively pursuing all leads," he said.