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WTJX NEWSFEED: November 27, 2023

VIPD Crime scene

On today's WTJX NewsFeed, Joseph Greaux, wanted for attempted murder, turns himself in. Police officers kill an active shooter in Market Square. Recent testing shows that elevated levels of lead and copper in the potable water distribution system may be unfounded. The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands adds a new location to their Little Free Library on St. Thomas. Listen to these stories and more.

TRANSCRIPT

Welcome to the WTJX news feed in today's top stories. A man wanted for attempted murder on St. Croix turns himself into police. Police kill a gunman during a shoot out in Market Square on Saint Thomas. Recent testing showed that elevated levels of lead and copper in the potable water distribution system may be unfounded. These stories and more on today's WTJX Newsfeed from the Virgin Islands.

Public broadcaster Lighting Systems Studios on Saint Thomas. This is the WTJX News Feed with Marcellina Ventura-Douglas. Welcome to the WTJX News Feed, bringing you the latest news and updates throughout our community.

Over the holiday weekend, the Virgin Islands Police Department responded to a potentially fatal incident on the island of Saint Croix. We spoke with police Chief Sean Santos senior to get the details. On November 24, 2023, around 10:22 p.m., a female caller called 911 and reported that her ex-boyfriend discharged shots at her friend at the vicinity of the Value Park gas station in Le Grand Princess.

The case is still being investigated. However, the suspect in this case is the one Mr. Joseph Grill, who eventually turned himself in last May, which is the November 26. At this time, Mr. Guido's face an attempted murder charges. Chief Santos said officers canvased the area during the initial investigation. Once the officers went into the area and canvased here, there was no other reports of anyone being injured of the shots being fired.

Also on Saint Croix, a 71 year old man lost his life in attempts to stop a moving vehicle. On November 22nd, at approximately 10:19 a.m., the Wilber Francis Command Patrol Officers were dispatched by the 911 emergency call center to estate little fountain to investigate a one vehicle automobile collision. Upon officers arrival, they observed an unresponsive man lying in the driveway.

Preliminary investigation revealed that 71 year old Terry Stephen Watson attempted to stop a moving vehicle as it began to roll downhill. The vehicle rolled over Mr. Watson, resulting in his death on the island of Saint Thomas. Reports of a robbery in progress escalated when 28 year old suspect Troy Normal engaged in a gunfight with officers. Assistant Commissioner Mario Brooks gave us details on the incident.

We received a report of a potential mission in a market square area argue alleged robbery in progress. Shots were discharged, the officer responded. The presumption is the male called in for assistance to understand units responding to the subject based on what we were told. Insurance info and the office of the press officer understand when they returned fire. The next officer arriving on the scene also came under fire and returned fire.

Point The subject was dropped. If the owner reports scene responding to a reported criticism given the officer involved shooting. Commissioner Brooks maintained that the department stands by its officers. We stand behind our officers 100% in light of the recent occurrences. As you can see from this year, we had several situations where individuals took it upon themselves to fire on our officers.

We are full support of our officers. We are highly trained and in no jobs and we support them 100%. And even the visuals are going to change the situation for what it is and engage with our officers needed by the officers. We're in front of the general public. At today's Government House press briefing, Director of Communications Richard Motta shared that comprehensive analysis results received late Wednesday before the Thanksgiving holiday revealed that the elevated levels of lead and copper in the potable water distribution system may be unfounded.

This finding aligns with initial assessments by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources and the Water and Power Authority suggesting anomalies in earlier data to find the sources of lead and copper in the water system. In those areas identified in Saint Croix. The EPA, in conjunction with WAPA and DPR, conducted sequential testing in early November, utilizing the agency's standard protocol.

The results, which the EPA shared with the Virgin Islands government Wednesday evening, indicated that all tested sites overwhelmingly reported levels of lead and copper well below the acceptable levels, and many areas were non detectable. While some areas on Saint Croix continue to experience water quality issues, primarily discolored water due to aging and the deteriorating ductile iron pipes, Mr. Maura shared that a deviation of how sampling is typically done may have been the cause of the initial high readings.

The initial sampling protocol, which focused on sampling at the meter rather than the tap to look to evaluate and assess the red and brown water potentially introduced other contaminants into the sampled water. The initial EPA findings, reported on October 13th, contradicted successful tests conducted by WAPA in September under the EPA protocols, which required testing for lead and copper at the TAP, giving the results.

The administration maintains that they will continue to work with federal partners to achieve conclusive data and is also extending the local state of emergency that is set to expire Wednesday, November 29th. Environmental Program manager from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, Harold Mark, explained the protocol for the sequential sampling, giving the more updated results. Well, essentially the sequential sampling involves collecting samples from the user's tap and working your way all the way back to the what was mean.

The sampling that was done in September and October that involved collecting samples at the whopping meter location for just making some certain assessments in terms of levels that may be found there. Department of Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion stated that Federal Emergency Management Agency staff would be arriving in the territory today. They've already started with the unified command. We meet every day at around 730 in the morning and then, of course, our 8:00 general staff.

And they are also on that call and they were on the call today in terms of technical assistance. They're looking at how we can actually map the sites that have really been tested. So that's one of the main priorities being here and supporting us along the way as well. Commissioner Encarnacion further shared updates from the pediatric lead level testing to date.

Epidemiology team has administered the Fingerstick blood tests to 550 children. Of the 550, 203 were negative and 23 were detected pending confirmation, which means that initial tests detected lead and a follow up venous blood draw was required for the confirmation as of 1 p.m. today. 11 results of the venous blood drives have been returned. All 11 Venus blood draws returned negative or below the level of concern for lead in the system.

More results are pending. This week's tests and continues at per be Larsen which is happening as we speak. School of Good Shepherd on Tuesday, November 28, Synchro Christian Academy. On Wednesday, 20 November 29th St Patrick's Catholic School on Wednesday, November 29th Church of God's Holiness School on Thursday, November 30th. The Department continues to make its hotlines available to residents residents with health concerns related to lead exposure and tests, and may call the Department of Health's hotline at 3407126299 or 3407761599.

And that is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.. The Department of Planning Natural Resources also operates a hotline at 34051436663405143666 For water sampling concerns. For information, visit clean water usvi dot com. During our interview with Virgin Islands Republican Chairman Gordon Ackley, he called on conservative Virgin Islanders to join the Republican Party to combat what he says is the one party system in the territory.

I believe that most Virgin Islanders are conservative, and it's obvious if you look at the voter rolls where there is approximately 20,000 registered Democrats and the second largest party in the Territory is no party with approximately 13,000 voters in them, no party. And these are people who are politically active, who are not satisfied with the Democrat Party. And so they are people in need of a party.

And I believe that we are the party for those people. Despite recent discord in the Republican Party, he maintains that the Republican Party is the voice of the people. You know, the Virgin Islands functions better when you have two voices. And I'm not saying that, you know, we're 100% correct 100% of the time, but we represent the conservative side of their viewpoint.

And I really believe that overall, the Virgin Islanders people went to the conservative side and that, you know, we are in the voice. You know, we're here. We do listen to you. And instead of being no party, you know, I welcome all to the Republican Party. You're listening to the tax news feed. According to documents unsealed by the U.S. District Court, two men have been charged in the 2018 murder of hurricane recovery contractor Derek Cribb on St Croix in a Cole NGO.

Vonnie Smith are each charged with first degree murder use of a minor in a crime of violence, use of a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in death. Discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence and interference with commerce by robbery. Smith is charged with one count of tampering with evidence after he attempted to destroy a Jeep Wrangler in attempt to keep it from being used in the investigation.

The arrest comes five years after a 33 year old Crip of North Carolina was gunned down in an armed robbery at Castaways Bar and restaurant in state solitude on the east end of Saint Croix. In 2019, Cole was found guilty of second degree murder and sentenced in 2022 to serve 30 years for his conviction of murder, assault and robbery charges for the 2015 murder of 73 year old Augustus Badness.

The retired pastor who was beaten to death in the vicinity of the David Hamilton Jackson Park while Cole was initially jailed after his arrest, prosecutors and his defense attorney agreed in 2018 that Cole could be released after posting property to secure a reduce $100,000 bail. He was ordered to remain under continual house arrest with electronic monitoring during Cribbs murder.

Smith is still facing first degree murder charges for the 2020 shooting death of 19 year old Selena Shetterly, who was gunned down while driving in what police said was an apparent case of mistaken identity, according to Vice Superior Court records. Smith is scheduled to go to trial and that case on March 4th. During a Senate Committee on Education and Workforce Development hearing, senators learned of difficulties staffing courses at the Career and Technical Education School by Ms..

Joanne Murphy, chairwoman of the Career and Technical Education Board. She also requested that funding be made available once again for the job training programs for high school students while engaging with department of Labor Commissioner Gary Malloy. Senator Franklin Johnson wondered if federal grants weren't available to fund the job training programs. Department of Labor used to be able to get funding from the Casino Commission to fund its JAG program.

And so, for example, we used to get 50% of the costs of the program in education and labor, and we are the only state in the 39 state GI network that paid our students jobs for America's graduate students stipends when they go out on their on the job trainings. What has happened since education is not receiving that funding.

They're now trying to enroll more of their students in JAG so that we can now get them more involved in getting the stipends. So we're working with education as well to do that. Commissioner Malloy explained that another issue they faced was that the legislature had defunded the program. This body has changed the legislation, so the funding that used to come from Labor for come from the Casino Commission no longer comes to us anymore.

So we don't have that funding. The other account that we get funding from the transition is a transitional account That fund get fund from that's coming from the ammunition and that the growth of that fund was substantially reduced because of another appropriation out of that fund was done. That funding used to come for us to provide transition funding for 11th and 12th graders to provide stipends for them.

So we're all going to be very challenged with the numbers as they grow. But the goal is to provide the opportunities to those young people and be able to have the funding to be able to do that. The Virgin Islands Association for Independent Living seeks to help Virgin Islanders with disabilities gain independent living. During a Committee on Culture, Youth Aging, Sports and Parks hearing, Monique Butte, the executive director, reported to Chairman Senator Angelo Borchers that their operations are being impacted because they struggle to find a new rental facility they can afford because their current rental is plagued with mold and the landlord maintains it's not his responsibility.

There is a unit is ours that has mold and it too. Yes, we have called several times, but nobody has come and checked it as yet. There's mold in the floors, everything. He says anything inside is ours. Our responsibilities, what we're talking about and I hope they're listening because we're talking about a community here that needs our assistance and has a right to have adequate access.

A measure sponsored by Senator Alma Francis High Lugar put forward during a government operations, Veterans Affairs and Consumer Protection Committee hearing could cost taxpayers $10,000. The bill seeks to honor Virgin Islands veteran Kendall Emmanuel George, who died while serving in the Vietnam War. Virgin Islands Veterans Affairs director Patrick Farrell, however, urged lawmakers to support the measure as we consider naming a number one and seven from Coral Bay to the Bay, Saint John, the Kenneth Emmanuel George Drive south.

 

We will be embarking on a significant tribute to a hero whose bravery echoes through the archives of history. The appropriation of $10,000 to the Department of Public Works for signage at the Kennedy Mahal. George Drive is a small, yet impactful investment in preserving the memory of a true Virgin Islands hero. These signs will serve as a daily reminder to all who traverse this route, prompting reflection on the sacrifices made to ensure the freedoms we hold dear.

The measure was voted upon favorably and will be forwarded to the Rules and Judiciary Committee for further consideration. The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands recently announced the newest location in their free little library initiative. We spoke with President of the Foundation, Andy Beecher Brown about the program. She has shepherded the Little Free Library program in the Territory since 2018 following the storms.

We had some donors who wanted to help just lift our spirits. And one of the things that the CFB CSPI did was we adopted the little free library programs. Having seen it in other places and knowing that it was very consistent with CFB efforts to uplift the enjoyment of people in the territory and also to assist in some ways to advance literacy for our community.

To date, the Territory has 12 little free libraries across the territory. But during the COVID 19 pandemic, the libraries were not stocked with the books. But Mrs. Brown says they are now stocked and back on track. We're really excited about adding a new little free library, and we're hoping that by making the community aware of the new library and the theme park, it will also spark some thoughts about other organizations, businesses, individuals who feel that they would like to sponsor a little free library in their business or in their home or in a park or in other communities.

There are things where homeowners basically have a little free library at the foot of their driveway. So it's something where we really would love to have as many little free libraries populating our islands as possible. The grand opening of the Alvin McBean Ballpark Little Free Library is scheduled for Saturday, December 9th at 10 a.m. The event will have light refreshments and a reading time.

 

For more information, visit CFI dot net or call 3407746031. Your listening to the WTJX News Feed Vendor Applications for the Children's and Adults Festival parades on Cinco Roy will be accepted Monday, November 27th through Friday, December 1st. Applications can be picked up and dropped off at the Records Bureau at the Wilbur Francis Command Police Station or the Rainbow Operations Building from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m..

For more information, call the command station at 3407782211. As we continue in the WTJX news feed, we turn now to our regional report. Over the weekend, the U.S. Coast Guard station and Customs and Border Patrol apprehended 12 stowaways in a tugboat that was being escorted in San Juan. To get the details, we spoke with Ricardo Castro, that public relations officer for the Coast Guard sector, San Juan.

Saturday morning, our Coast Guard station, San Juan Beach surface assets were conducting an escort of a tugboat, Pizarro Dam, that was towing a barge into San Juan, Puerto Rico, during that patrol. They noticed people on board the barge. Our patrol vessel notified our watchstanders at San Juan and we coordinated our sector reporting team to get on scene and go on board the barge.

Once they're all aboard the barge, they realize that there's nine stowaways aboard the barge, one of which was unresponsive. Although he was breathing and had vital signs, he wasn't responding to to our operating team. While conducting the search officers learned that three other stowaways had jumped into the water in attempts to escape. Of the three migrants were reported to be in the water.

We activated our search and rescue response with additional surface assets so coordinated to get a Coast Guard helicopter on the scene and notified our other partners, agencies CBP, the U.S. Border Patrol, and local law enforcement. Two migrants were able to swim to shore and was apprehended in Punta Salinas, located in the western side of the San Juan Harbor.

One other migrant was located by our Coast Guard station service folks and they were able to to rescue him at the end of the day. All the stowaways were placed in custody under the Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Border Patrol. Following the the entry of the vessels, our boarding team did a pier side boarding of the barge to ensure that there were no other additional people hiding inside the vessel.

Investigation is being done to determine where the migrants originated from. But Mr. Castro, dad said incidents like this are on the rise. We've had this activity happen a couple of times this year where vessels are transiting near the Dominican Republic. And some of these organizations may know of this and they may try to take the opportunity to see how they can meet up with that trajectory of those vessels and and try to to get people on board.

Those are moving barges. They may appear to move slowly, but that's not really the case when you're next to these vessels. It's quite a dangerous evolution to try to get on, you know, highlighting how dangerous that is. I can't highlight that enough. And that's one of the reasons we escort some of these vessels as we see it. They're trying to come in.

You know, the understanding that there may be a possibility of stowaways being on board. Virgin Islands residents can anticipate some sun and rain this evening and into tomorrow. Meteorologist Eric Glass has the territory's weather forecast. Here's a live look at the short term forecast for the Virgin Islands. I'm meteorologist Eric Weglarz. Mostly sunny skies continue this afternoon at Saint Croix.

There's the chance for a shower near sunset. Temperatures will hold in the lower eighties, once in the east at 10 to 15 miles per hour. At saint thomas and saint john, there's the chance for a few more showers towards sunset. Mostly sunny regardless with highs in the middle eighties. Once in the east, a 15 to 20 miles per hour.

Clear skies are expected. Tonight's area wide lows will fall back into the middle seventies. At saint Croix, once in the east, a 10 to 15 miles per hour. At Saint Thomas and Saint John, a bit more breezy winds from the east at 15 to 20, with gusts as high as 25. Tuesday features a few scattered showers and are mostly sunny skies at Saint Croix.

Temperatures will reach the middle eighties. Winds from the east northeast at 10 to 15. And at Saint Thomas and Saint John will also find mostly sunny skies. Chance for a few showers later in the afternoon. Highs reached the upper eighties. Winds from the east at 10 to 15 miles per hour, with gusts only as high as 20. More showers expected on Wednesday.

Area wide, though, still sunny. That's the latest. Look at your short term forecast. I'm meteorologist Eric Weglarz. We are at the end of today's WTJX newsfeed. I’m Marcellina Ventura-Douglas. Join me every weekday at 5 p.m.. Be sure to download the jets app and if you miss a part of our news, you can listen to it on demand wherever you get your podcasts.

 

Marcellina Ventura-Douglas is the Radio News Reporter for WTJX-FM, 93.1. Born and raised on St. Croix, Ventura-Douglas graduated from the University of the Virgin Islands, where she received her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. While at UVI, she worked in the office of Senator Shawn-Michael Malone before beginning her career in radio. Ventura-Douglas fell in love with radio growing up, when she and her father would spend every morning and afternoon listening to local radio news legend, Alvin G. After leaving Senator Malone's office, she became the program director of Vivid Streaming. She then joined WTJX-TV, Channel 12 as a producer. Soon after, she was tapped to switch to WTJX-FM to present an evening news. She is passionate about bringing radio news to the Virgin Islands community through the WTJX NewsFeed, airing every weekday at 5:00pm on 93.1 FM and available online, on demand.
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