The Virgin Islands Police Department promised Saturday a "fair, impartial, and thorough investigation" after a man died after being injured in an encounter with officers.
The victim was identified as Evan Ezekiel Joseph, 38 of Altona on St. Thomas. It was the seventh homicide on St. Thomas since the first of the year, the ninth in the territory.
According to the police statement issued Saturday evening by VIPD media specialist Sakeeda Freeman, the 911 center received a call at about 11:33 a.m. reporting shots fired in the area of Simmonds Alley.
Several citizens told responding officers that a black man in the vicinity of Simmonds Alley fired several gunshots in the area. After receiving a detailed description of the suspect, the officers found an individual fitting the description.
According to the police, "During an encounter with officers, the suspect was injured and received medical treatment after being transported to the Roy Lester Schneider Regional Medical Center. He later succumbed to his injuries sustained during this incident."
The report did not provide any information on how the incident occurred or on the nature of Joseph’s injury.
The department expressed remorse for the incident and sympathy to Joseph’s relatives, said it was glad no other individuals were injured.
"None of our officers favor having to use force, especially force resulting in death or serious injuries," the police statement said. "We would like to assure the community that we intend to conduct a fair, impartial, and thorough investigation of this incident."
The police statement said the community and the department have little tolerance for violent activity and "will act when necessary to ensure our officers and innocent members of the community or visitors are safe and protected from harm."
Anyone with about the incident can call the Major Crimes Unit at 340-714-9823 ext. 5617, the Criminal Investigation Bureau at 340-714-9807 ext. 5556, or the Office of the Police Chief at 340-774-2211.
The case is being investigated by the department’s Force Investigation Team, comprised of members of the Criminal and Internal Affairs Bureaus.