A man charged with kidnapping a fellow juice seller from a St. Croix roadside at gunpoint appeared in court Friday, where a judge ordered him to live under 24-hour house arrest while he awaits trial.
Talibe Suleiman, 25, was arrested Wednesday and charged with false imprisonment and kidnapping, first-degree robbery, third-degree assault, carrying a concealed firearm, and brandishing or exhibiting a deadly weapon.
He is facing a maximum prison sentence of 20 years on the kidnapping charge alone, and a minimum of 10 years for carrying a concealed firearm.
Unable to post $75,000 bail, he was jailed until his advice-of-rights hearing in V.I. Superior Court Friday.
The case began Wednesday, when police responded to the Luis Hospital emergency room and interviewed the victim.
The victim said he and a witness were at their usual spot by the old Hovensa Training School selling their homemade juices when Suleiman drove up with a black handgun and ordered the victim into the vehicle, according to the affidavit.
The witness was busy with another customer and the victim said he was scared for his life so he got in. Suleiman “gun-butted” him in the face as he drove toward the Container Port, striking him in his left eye, according to the affidavit.
Suleiman made him empty his pockets and took between $200 to $300 in cash, and Suleiman took the victim’s iPhone and threw it out the window into the bush, according to the affidavit.
They drove toward Rohlsen Airport and “Mr. Suleiman threatened to kill him and his family,” and “threatened to throw his body by the beach area near the airport where nobody can find him,” according to the affidavit. He then drove past Lorraine Village and Eulalie Rivera School, where he pulled over and made the victim give him his blood-stained shirt, and Suleiman took off his own clean shirt and gave it to the victim before driving off.
The victim said the incident stemmed from a video that went viral on October 18 on social media. The video shows a 10-second clip of the victim and Witness One fighting Suleiman, according to the affidavit. The victim stated that the fight happened because Suleiman was bullying and punching Witness One. The victim stated that he believes that the video embarrassed Suleiman and Suleiman wanted revenge. The victim stated that he and Suleiman were friends for a long time, but Suleiman “has a reputation of burglarizing homes in their neighborhood.”
The victim received eight stitches to close the wound to his left eyebrow, police said.
Police also interviewed the witness who had been selling juice with the victim. The witness said when he realized the victim had left with Suleiman, “he had a bad feeling” and called a friend to pick him up to go look for the victim. They saw him in the passenger seat of Suleiman’s car near the Container Port and “he appeared to be frightened,” but they were unable to chase him down and called police, according to the affidavit.
Another witness told police they called 911 after seeing Suleiman arrive at his grandmother’s home with “a black handgun in a downward position.”
Police detained Suleiman at his grandmother’s home and he agreed to a search of his vehicle, which had what appeared to be blood on the front passenger seat, according to the affidavit.
Police searched unsuccessfully for a firearm, and Suleiman told officers “he wasn’t armed with a gun, and he didn’t force the victim into his vehicle,” according to the affidavit. He told police he picked up the victim so they could fight in private “or we gonna fight right here in the public again,” and punched him in the face because “the victim was getting ‘loud’ with him.”
In court Friday, Magistrate Judge Ernest Morris Jr. said Suleiman may sign an unsecured $75,000 bond, meaning he would not have to post any cash in order to be released from jail while he awaits trial. But he must live with his mother under 24-hour house arrest with electronic monitoring, and have no contact with the victim or any witnesses in the case, the judge ordered.