Michael Anthony Cruz died on his 23rd birthday after he was shot Tuesday in Gallows Bay, St. Croix, according to V.I. Police spokesman Toby Derima.
The incident occurred just after 7 a.m. when Cruz was gunned down in a parking lot. Derima said Emergency Medical Technicians pronounced him dead at the scene.
“Yet another family is dealing with the grief of losing a loved one to gun violence at such a young age. I am appealing to the young men in this community to put the guns down,” St. Croix Chief of Police Sidney Elskoe said in a statement.
Detectives did not find a firearm in Cruz’s possession, Derima said. Cruz was awaiting trial on charges of illegal firearm possession after police said they found him sleeping amid an arsenal of weapons in May.
On May 29, police executed a search warrant at the Sion Hill home of Jose Osorio, 26, and found Osorio, his girlfriend and Cruz sleeping in a bedroom.
The search was part of an investigation into the fatal shooting of Selena Chitolie, according to an affidavit filed by V.I. Police. Chitolie, 19, and her mother, who survived, were both shot in the neck while driving near Evelyn Williams Elementary School on May 15.
Osorio and his girlfriend were sharing a bed “where a chrome Springfield Armory ACP magazine” with 13 rounds was found, and a loaded black Springfield Armory XD-45 ACP handgun was found on the floor, according to the affidavit.
Cruz was found sleeping on an air mattress and had three magazines in his pockets, police said.
On the floor around Cruz, officers found a Ruger AR-556 semi-automatic rifle with a round in the chamber and “a hundred capacity double drum magazine,” a fully automatic Glock 19 handgun with a loaded extended magazine, a loaded black handgun with a P80 receiver and various other loaded magazines, according to the affidavit.
Osorio told investigators his girlfriend was not involved with the weapons, and admitted to buying the Springfield XD-45 firearm “in January 2020, after he was shot,” according to the affidavit and admitted to not having a firearm license, police said.
Cruz declined to give a statement, according to the affidavit.
Cruz and Osorio were both charged with four counts of unauthorized possession of a firearm, and 10 counts of unauthorized possession of ammunition and bail was set at $50,000.
On June 1, Superior Court Judge Jessica Gallivan ordered Cruz released to a third-party custodian after allowing him to post $5,000 cash or $100,000 worth of property.
The judge also gave Cruz a curfew of 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Cruz’s last appeared in court on Nov. 18 via videoconference when the case was continued for 30 days, according to the Superior Court clerk’s office. Cruz is the second declared homicide in the territory so far this year and the third gun death.
Lessroy Gumbs 28, was shot and killed on St. John on New Year’s Day. Gumbs was awaiting trial for attempted murder in a 2019 St. Thomas shootout that left two men injured, according to court documents.
On Jan. 2, William Isaac, 19, of Aureo Diaz Heights housing community on St. Croix died of a gunshot he received while watching car races on Container Port Road. Police have not announced whether his death is considered a homicide.