A former standup comedian who once appeared on MTV with Nick Cannon and Snoop Dogg was arrested while trying to board a plane Thursday on St. Thomas.
Aarona Browning-Lopez, 37, was charged with being a fugitive from justice and was taken into custody pursuant to a warrant from the state of Florida. She was apprehended at King Airport while trying to board a flight to Virginia with a layover in Atlanta, according to court testimony.
She appeared in V.I. Superior Court via videoconference Friday, when Magistrate Judge Denise Francois said she will remain in jail without bond because she is a flight risk. Browning-Lopez waived extradition and agreed to return to Florida, and authorities from that state have 30 days to retrieve her from the Virgin Islands.
The Florida warrant, dated February 25, charges Browning-Lopez with failing to appear in court to answer for three offenses: misdemeanor resisting an officer, a felony count of resisting an officer and causing bodily injury, and giving a false name after her arrest.
Browning-Lopez questioned the judge and her public defender about various aspects of the proceeding against her, and at one point during Friday’s hearing she spoke at length about her troubles over the last three years, and claimed she had been the victim of harassment and abuse by Miami police.
She said the Florida criminal case against her is about “politics and dollars,” and said she’s been treated “with respect” while staying in the Virgin Islands, but wanted to return to the mainland because the territory lacks the “resources” she needs to rebuild her life. Francois eventually cut her off.
Once a rising star in the comedy world, Browning-Lopez has performed on television for celebrities as recently as 2016. Since then, her life has been on a dramatic and well-publicized downward trajectory, with Browning-Lopez often turning the camera on herself and broadcasting lengthy diatribes on social media.
In April, she traveled from California to Hawaii, where residents shared those videos out of concern that she would unwittingly spread coronavirus among the local population. It’s unclear whether Browning-Lopez has ever tested positive for the disease, but she was arrested three days after her arrival, convicted of breaking the state’s 14-day quarantine mandate for incoming travelers. She was taken directly from jail to the airport, where she was put on a flight back to Los Angeles, according to Hawaii news reports.
It’s unclear how she traveled from California to St. Thomas, but in recent weeks residents have been sharing her social media videos that show her living in a tent on various beaches, often berating passersby. Prior to her arrest Thursday — which she documented on her public Facebook page — many residents expressed concern that she had traveled from the mainland during a global pandemic and could pose a threat to public health.