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Son of St. Croix Jockey Dies from Gunshot Wounds

Sept. 10, 2008 — A teenager who was in critical condition at the Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital with a gunshot wound to the head has died.
Christian Soto III, whom police had not identified by name until his death, died at 12:52 p.m. Wednesday, according to a statement released by V.I. Police Department Spokeswoman Melody Rames. Soto had been hospitalized since Sunday night in the hospital's Intensive Care Unit.
Police have now upgraded the incident from a first-degree assault to a homicide, and investigators have "substantial leads in the case," Rames said. However, she would not say whether an arrest was imminent.
Soto was one of three people shot around 10:30 p.m. Sunday. A 17-year-old minor sustained a flesh wound and a 27-year-old adult male was shot multiple times in the body.
The 17-year-old was treated and released shortly after the incident, but Soto remained hospitalized in critical condition, and the adult male was also held but was listed in stable condition. He remains hospitalized.
Investigators believe the adult male was the intended target, Rames said Wednesday.
According to reports to police, the adult male ducked into a crowd for cover after someone fired at him. Soto and the 17-year-old male were among the bystanders. His shooting came just hours after family, friends and horse-racing fans celebrated him following his father's footsteps with a foray into horse racing. Soto is the son of famed St. Croix jockey Christian Soto Jr., and earlier Sunday afternoon had won his first race at the Randall "Doc" James Racetrack.
As news of his death spread Wednesday, horse-racing fans said they were in shock over the younger Soto's death, just days after such a happy occasion and a day that gave fans a glimpse of a budding career.
Hospital Spokesman Rashidi Clenance confirmed the teenager's death, and Acting Police Chief Oakland Benta immediately upgraded the case to a homicide, Rames said in the statement from police. The investigation is ongoing, and police urge anyone with information that could lead to an arrest to contact the Investigations Bureau at 778-2211 or call 911. Callers can remain anonymous.
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