US Virgin Islands: Crossfire from gang shootout kills 14-year-old tourist in front of family

By Judi Shimel, AP
Monday, July 12, 2010

US Virgin Islands: Gang shootout kills tourist

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S Virgin Islands — A 14-year-old Puerto Rican tourist was killed in front of her horrified family when she was caught in the crossfire of a gunfight attributed to warring gangs on the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Gov. John deJongh identified the slain tourist as Lizmarie Perez Chapparro from Puerto Rico, who was struck by a bullet as she rode with her relatives on a packed “safari bus” that ferries tourists across the three-island territory.

The girl and her family arrived in St. Thomas aboard the Carnival Victory, a Carnival Cruise Line ship that departed Puerto Rico’s capital of San Juan on Sunday. Another cruise ship passenger sustained a minor injury during the shootout.

Carnival spokeswoman Jennifer De La Cruz described it as an “unfathomable act of senseless violence” and said the Miami-based line suspended all excursions that include the St. Thomas neighborhood where the violence took place until further notice.

A St. Thomas teenager also was killed by the gunfire as he attended the funeral of another man fatally shot on June 29. Police said 18-year-old Shadid Joseph’s body was found Monday with a loaded gun.

A police statement said that Monday’s victims were killed by bullets sprayed from a red Honda Civic and by a person attending a burial at a cemetery in Coki Point.

The tourist bus was hit by gunfire on its way to Coki Point Beach, one of the island’s most popular beaches, as it passed the cemetery.

It was not immediately clear who was being targeted, but authorities said the shootout was a battle between drug criminals.

Virgin Islands has been struggling to curb gun violence. Drug gangs have staged shootouts in public before, but seldom in broad daylight amid heavy traffic.

“All Virgin Islanders share in the sorrow of such a senseless loss of life,” deJongh said.

Three people were taken into custody as “persons of interest” after the deadly shooting, according to Rames.

The Virgin Islands’ nonvoting delegate to Congress, Donna Christensen, issued a statement calling on all islanders “to unite against the plague of violence that has gripped our community.”

Associated Press Writer David McFadden contributed to this report from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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