Oct. 26, 2002 – Police on Saturday identified a taxi driver who was fatally shot Friday night in Christiansted as Emmanuel Lee, 58, a native of Trinidad. His death was the fourth homicide on St. Croix this month.
Police Lt. Gregory Bennerson, chief of investigation, said Lee was pronounced dead at the scene. He had been shot once in the torso.
The victim's body was found in the taxi van he was driving after it veered off the road on King Street and crashed into a building. Investigators say they believe Lee may have been the victim of an armed robbery. Three people were reportedly seen emerging from the van and running away after it crashed.
Police brought three people in for questioning later Friday night, "but they were subsequently released," Bennerson said.
The killing occurred two days after the last fatal shooting on St. Croix, of Ricky Maxwell, 24, who was found shot several times in a storage room at the Paradise Mills housing community. He died Wednesday night at Juan Luis Hospital.
Lee's death is the 19th homicide on St. Croix this year and the 37th in the territory. The figures through Oct. 25 for the previous three years were:
2001 – St. Croix, 10; Virgin Islands 20.
2000 – St. Croix, 6; Virgin Islands 14.
1999 – St. Croix 7, Virgin Islands 18.
Bennerson said he thinks the climbing statistics may be related to a growing reluctance on the part of the public to help police solve crimes and take violent offenders off the street.
"There is a definite communications gap between the Police Department and the community that has to be closed," he said. "We do have to recognize that we have a very serious problem with drug-related crime, and people have a fear because of the violent nature of the crime," he added.
Nonetheless, the public is being asked to help authorities with the investigation into the slaying of Emmanuel Lee by calling police at 778-2211 or emergency number 911.
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