May 10, 2004 – Reynaldo Berrios, an 18-year-old De Chabert housing community resident, has been charged on St. Croix with the murder of Police Officer Cuthbert Chapman, Police Commissioner Elton Lewis announced Monday afternoon.
In a statement to the media broadcast by WVWI, Lewis said Berrios was arrested on a warrant at about 8 a.m. by Street Enforcement Team detectives and has been charged with federal and territorial crimes.
The federal charges are carjacking and unlawful use of a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence, he said; and the territorial charges are first-degree murder, attempted robbery and unauthorized possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime of violence.
Chapman, 43, was shot multiple times during an attempted robbery at the Wendy's restaurant in the Sunny Isle Shopping Center on the night of April 17. He was off duty working as a security guard at the restaurant at the time.
He died on April 26 while hospitalized in Puerto Rico and was buried on Wednesday following viewing at Government House and a funeral with full Police Department honors.
Lewis said the arrest came about through the joint efforts of local and federal law-enforcement agencies including the Street Enforcement Team; the FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Attorney General's Office and the U.S. Attorney's Office.
He thanked community for "all the information that led to this arrest" and added: "This still is an active investigation, and we will continue to move forward to arrest others who may have participated in this crime."
According to police reports, at least three assailants were involved in the attempted robbery of the fast-food restaurant, which occurred shortly before 11 p.m. One man entered through the front door and jumped over the counter, and Chapman intervened and subdued him. Then, according to police, two armed individuals broke through the back entrance of the restaurant and fired several shots, hitting Chapman multiple times.
All three men were reported to have been wearing dark clothing, hoods and masks.
A police spokesman said the day after the shooting that Chapman, who initially was admitted to Juan F. Luis Hospital for treatment, "provided an excellent description" of the assailants.
Earlier on the day of the shootings, a woman reported to police that an individual pointed a gun at her and ordered her out of her tan Chevy Cavalier in La Reine, about 10 minutes away from Sunny Isle. Police said a car of that description was found later that night abandoned in the Clifton Hill area and that they believed it was the vehicle the assailants fled in from the restaurant.
Lewis noted that there is a reward of $31,000 offered "for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for Officer Chapman's murder."
A release issued later Monday by Lewis's office urged anyone with information concerning the case to contact police by calling 778-2211, ext. 4530 or 4582, on St. Croix; 774-2211 or 715-5522 on St. Thomas; or 693-8880 on St. John; or by going to a police station in person. Or, it stated, "If you feel uncomfortable calling any of the numbers listed or visiting a police facility, you may contact Commissioner Lewis directly at 774-2310 on St. Thomas or 778-2211, ext. 4501, on St. Croix."
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