A man was shot at least twice and robbed Thursday morning in front of the Estate Williams Delight Head Start Center, the V.I. Police Department reported. No children or Head Start employees were injured.
Police were dispatched to the scene at about 8 a.m. Thursday. According to the preliminary police investigation a parent drove up the Head Start and left a male passenger in the vehicle while he took his child into the building. As he was leaving the building he was approached by at least four masked suspects who demanded his gold chain. The parent hesitated and was shot by at least one of the suspects and his chain was taken.
At the same time another suspect robbed the passenger who had stayed in the car.
The victim went into the Head Start Center in an attempt to evade the suspects. At least one of the suspects came into the building and shot the victim a second time. There were at least 10 children and two staff members in the building at the time.
No one else was injured, police said.
The suspects were able to take gold jewelry from both victims. Witnesses told police that the suspects fled on foot in several different directions.
The names of the victims were not released, in accord with a V.I.P.D. policy to not name victims of non-fatal incidents. Police said the victim who was shot is 37-years-old and the victim who was robbed in the car is 19-years-old. The shooting victim was taken by ambulance to the Juan F. Luis Memorial Hospital. Police said the injury does not appear to be life threatening.
Assistant Police Commissioner Thomas Hannah as well as Deputy Police Chief Arthur Hector were on the scene. Police Commissioner Rodney F. Querrard Sr., who was updated throughout the incident, offered the police department’s assistance in mitigating the trauma that is being felt by the children and the staff.
“We will do whatever we can,” Querrard said, adding that he will closely monitor this investigation and provide the officers with all available resources to assist them to locate these suspects who showed no concern for the welfare of the children that were present.
Social workers from the Department of Human Services arrived on the scene within minutes of the incident to provide counseling to the children and staff who witnessed the incident. Human Services Management staff as well as Assistant Commissioner Carla Benjamin were also present. The department is contacting each family and will provide continuous physiological support through the Department’s psychologist and social workers. Staff will also be offered counseling through the employee assistance program provided by CIGNA Health care.
The Head Start center will be closed Friday until further notice. Parents will be directly contacted by the Human Services Department.