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USVI man arrested on weapon & ammo charges after gun battle

Police took Hector Castano Estrella Jr, 35, of Plantation Manor, St Thomas, USVI into custody and charged him with one count each of possession of an unlicensed firearm and possession of ammunition stemming from a shooting incident. Photo: VIC

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, St Thomas, USVI- A report of shots fired Thursday, March 9, 2017 resulted in the confiscation of two weapons and the arrest of Hector Castano Estrella, Jr on weapon and ammunition charges, US Virgin Islands (USVI) Department of Justice Public Media Officer Corliss Smithen announced this afternoon, March 10, 2017.

Police took Estrella, 35, of Plantation Manor, St Thomas, USVI into custody and charged him with one count each of possession of an unlicensed firearm and possession of ammunition stemming from a shooting incident in the area of Altona & Welgunst Thursday afternoon.

At Estrella’s advice-of-rights hearing Friday morning, V.I. Superior Court Magistrate Henry Carr III found probable cause to sustain the charges. Magistrate Carr maintained Estrella’s bail at $35,000, allowed him to be released on posting ten percent into the third-party custody of his mother and ordered him to abide by a number of court-imposed bail conditions.

A probable cause fact sheet filed by Detective Alex Dorsett in support of Estrella’s arrest provides the following details:

Police responded to a report of shots being fired in the Altona & Welgunst area. Upon the police units’ arrival to the scene, several spent casings were discovered in the roadway. Police officers spoke to several persons in the area who stated that they heard the shots, but did not see who fired them.

As officers were canvassing the area, they saw a vehicle parked in a driveway. While inspecting the vehicle, officers saw a rifle magazine clip on the front passenger seat. As officers looked further into the vehicle, according to Dorsett, they saw a small black firearm and what appeared to be a rifle wrapped inside a brown towel lying on the floor. Police learnt that the vehicle belonged to Estrella, who had fled the scene in another vehicle. Police towed away the vehicle and took it into custody.

Later during a police interview, according to Dorsett, Estrella admitted to being involved in a shootout in the area. He told police that he was talking with his wife when a vehicle drove up and two or three persons from inside the vehicle began firing shots at him. Estrella told police he pulled out his firearm from his waist and returned fire, while running for cover. Footage from a surveillance camera corroborated Estrella’s statement.

Estrella’s arraignment, at which he will formally answer to the charges, is slated for March 23, 2017.

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