Saturday, December 8, 2012

US Virgin Islands: Another Arrest Made in Gunmen Who Fired Upon New York Tourists

As I have noted in previous postings, St. Thomas is hardly a low-threat destination, particularly where the victimization of tourists and residents alike are concerned.

On Friday night (December 7), a third suspect was arrested in the May 25 unprovoked shooting and injury of two New Yorkers, part of a group of eleven, that were staying at a villa in Frenchman's Bay, but ended up at a Havensight nightclub that evening.

Two previous suspects were arrested by local police shortly after the shooting.

Javal Miguel Phillip, 23, was arrested on December 7 and charged with first-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, unauthorized possession of a firearm, first-degree reckless endangerment and aiding and abetting. He also reportedly is the assailant who shot the two New Yorkers. 

According to police, the tourists were in two separate rental vehicles: a mini-van and an SUV. They arrived at the club about midnight and stayed for several hours. 

When the club was closing, the group went out to the parking lot to get into their two rentals, but discovered than an SUV was blocking both of the rentals, which resulted in a verbal exchange between the tourists and an unidentified man in the parking lot.

Subsequently, four men got into the SUV and exited the parking lot, although soon thereafter the drivers of the two rentals realized that they were being followed by the SUV, at which point one of the occupants began firing at the rented mini-van, resulting in non-life-threatening injuries to a man and a woman in the front seat of one of the rentals.

During the exchange of gunfire, the tire of one of the tourist rentals became flat [the SUV], which forced the tourists to transfer the the two injured tourists into the mini-van and transport them to Schneider Hospital for treatment. 

A few days after the shooting, Ahjem Nibbs and Ajani Brathwaite were arrested and charged with attempted first-degree murder, first-degree assault, unauthorized possession of a firearm, first-degree reckless endangerment, and aiding and abetting.

According to police, Brathwaite was the driver of the SUV that followed the tourists as they left the parking lot. Nibbs was in the back with Phillip.

COMMENT: Now, let me first mention that rarely do tourists traveling abroad envision that they are going to be fired upon by small arms, or worse, injured as a result. 

Taking this one step farther, the American tourists easily could also have been killed.

Considering that this site was conceptualized to help travelers and tourists stay safe abroad, there are a number of lessons-learned in this case that may be useful to other travelers:

1. As I have pointed out in countless postings in the past, NEVER leave home without first subscribing to international medical and evacuation coverage. 

If you don't, any hospital or medical care you need while away from home, including the Caribbean, and even potentially in US territories, may NOT be covered by medical coverage you have at home. That means you may have to pay for your medical care in CASH;

2. Even though most young adults truly believe they are bulletproof until age 90, that theory, unfortunately, has not as yet been proved. 

Thus, when you go clubbing in a foreign destination, particularly where locals don't necessarily like tourists, and then an abundance of alcohol for all parties concerned, bad results can occur; and

3. When you rent a vehicle or vehicles anywhere outside the continental borders of where home is, PLEASE fully insure the vehicles, as you never know when you may bring the rentals back with bullet-holes in them, which is usually interpreted as more than a "ding." 

Thus, if you assume your auto coverage at home will apply, you almost invariably are going to be wrong.