A man was charged with illegal gun possession on St. Croix on Saturday after leading officers on a brief foot chase, according to an affidavit filed by V.I. Police.
Lawrence Hodge was charged with carrying an unlicensed firearm, unauthorized possession of ammunition, and interfering with an officer. Unable to post $50,000 bail, Hodge was held in jail until his advice-of-rights hearing Monday before V.I. Superior Court Judge Darryl Donohue.
The incident occurred Saturday when officers on foot patrol on King Cross Street noticed a man, later identified as Hodge, sitting outside rolling a marijuana joint, according to an affidavit filed by V.I. Police.
Officers approached and advised Hodge to face the wall so they could pat him down. As one officer relayed to another that “we have another guy that is smoking what appeared to smell like marijuana,” Hodge “took off running down King Cross Street, then onto Strand Street,” according to the affidavit.
As police gave chase, officers noticed Hodge take something from his waistband and toss it towards a stone wall, according to the affidavit.
Hodge eventually stopped running and officers approached with guns drawn and took him into custody without further incident.
Hodge said he ran “because you was going to lock me up for a joint!” and police explained that under Virgin Islands law, “he cannot be arrested for a marijuana cigarette because it is decriminalized. However, it is still illegal,” according to the affidavit.
Police checked the area where Hodge had tossed an object, and found a 9 mm Smith and Wesson loaded with 15 rounds.
Hodge acknowledged that he doesn’t have a firearm license, but told police “he carries it because he works construction, self-employed,” and carries a lot of money, according to the affidavit.
Donahue said Monday that Hodge may be released to a third-party custodian if he posts 10% of the bail in cash, or $5,000, and signs an unsecured bond for the remaining $45,000. The judge said Hodge may also continue working, but must be on a nightly curfew.