District Court Judge Wilma A. Lewis, on August 31, 2018, sentenced Nathaniel Thomas, Jr. to eight years imprisonment for possession of a firearm by a felon, fifteen years imprisonment for unauthorized possession of a firearm, and five years imprisonment for reckless endangerment, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert announced.
The firearm sentences were imposed consecutively and the reckless endangerment sentence was imposed concurrently with the others. Judge Lewis also ordered Thomas to pay a fine of $2,000 and a special assessment of $100.
On March 13, a federal jury convicted Thomas after a two-day trial. According to the evidence presented at trial, Thomas drove a vehicle into the Gas For Less Service Station on St. Croix in the early morning hours of May 15, 2016. He was followed by individuals in a Ford Explorer. Thomas stopped his car, came out and hid between nearby vehicles as the Explorer reversed direction. At this point shots were being discharged. When the Explorer started to leave the service station, Thomas emerged and chased the Explorer on foot while discharging shots in the direction of the Explorer. He subsequently returned to his vehicle and left the scene.
Individuals in the area ran for cover and hid during the shooting. More than 50 spent shell casings were recovered from the crime scene, many of which were on the nearby Queen Mary Highway.
The Explorer collided with two vehicles and came to rest nearby. Bullet holes were discovered in the windshield, on the driver and passenger sides, and at the rear of the Explorer.
Thomas was not authorized to possess a firearm and had previously been convicted of a felony offense.
Thomas faces additional federal charges stemming from his alleged March 15 escape from the Golden Grove Correctional Facility following his conviction two days earlier for the May 2016 shooting. Federal law enforcement agents located Thomas on April 7 in Puerto Rico.
This case was investigated by the V.I. Police Department and by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alphonso G. Andrews, Jr.