Buck Island Reef National Monument off St. Croix will close from 4 p.m. until sunrise until further notice, following a recent shooting at the popular party spot.
Acting National Park Superintendent Reggie Tiller issued a statement Thursday saying that the closure is effective immediately, “in keeping with territorial public health guidance and to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.”
Tiller also said that the investigation into the shooting has been transferred to the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The incident began when a group of “more than 20 people engaged in a brawl,” and park rangers monitoring the area heard shots being fired at around 5 p.m., Tiller said in the statement. No injuries have been reported.
Rangers pursued a vessel that sped off and led local and federal authorities on a high-speed chase that eventually ended when a U.S. Coast Guard crew found the boat’s driver, Aneudis Acevedo, and he was taken into custody at around 7 p.m. in Krause Lagoon.
Inside Acevedo’s boat, rangers found a M&P Shield firearm with one magazine and six rounds of ammunition, less than one ounce of marijuana and five cell phones, according to the affidavit.
Acevedo, 33, was charged with interfering with agency functions, violating a lawful order, disorderly conduct and resisting or impeding an officer of the United States. He appeared in court Tuesday and U.S. Magistrate Judge George Cannon Jr. allowed him to be released from jail pending trial, ordering him to post $2,000 cash as surety for a $20,000 appearance bond.
Anchoring in the park is restricted to the West Beach anchoring area and an annual permit is required for all vessels.
Vessels entering the lagoon to access the underwater trail moorings or to scuba dive must obtain an anchoring permit prior to entering park waters. Permits are issued by the park office at Christiansted National Historic Site.
Anyone with information about the shooting incident is encouraged to contact the FBI’s tip line at 787-987-6413.