A St. Croix man still awaiting trial for the brutal beating death of 73-year-old Augustus Bannis was seriously injured in a shooting Thursday night, and has been transferred to the same Miami Hospital where Bannis died nearly five years ago, according to police and court records.
The man, Dumaray Isles, whose name is spelled various ways in court records — sometimes even on the same document — and was identified by police as Dumary Iles, was shot multiple times at around 10:45 p.m. Thursday in Upper Love, where he was on 24-hour house arrest under electronic monitoring.
During a press conference Friday, St. Croix Police Chief Sidney Elskoe asked for information from the public that might help solve the shooting. No arrests have been made in connection with the case.
On August 17, 2015, Bannis, a former pastor of the First Baptist Church in Salisbury, Dominica, and a 10-year St. Croix resident, was found brutally beaten in D. Hamilton Jackson Park in Frederiksted, where he’d been picking almonds. Bannis was struck in the head and repeatedly kicked about the body, causing blunt head injury, and his car was stolen. Bannis remained in a comatose state and two months later, on Oct. 19, he succumbed to his wounds at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
An anonymous witness came forward on Sept. 23, 2015, and told police she saw four men beat Bannis, which resulted in their arrest.
The case languished for years, until two of the four men arrested and charged with the murder — Enock Justin Cole and Avondale George Jr. — were found guilty in December 2019 of second-degree murder, first-degree assault, first-degree robbery and unauthorized use of a vehicle.
Cole and George were minors when taken into custody and later charged as adults after being held in detention for about a year, according to court records.
Isles, who was 23 at the time of the crime, and Jahmal Rivera, who was 29, were also arrested, but the V.I. Attorney General’s Office said they intend to try the men separately, and their cases are still pending.
V.I. Superior Court Judge Douglas Brady issued an order Friday, modifying the conditions of release for Isles to allow him to be transferred from Luis Hospital to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
“Upon his release from medical treatment at Jackson Memorial Hospital, defendant shall immediately return to St. Croix, subject to any further order to be issued herein,” Brady wrote.
Brady also appointed a third-party custodian to accompany Isles to Miami, and authorized the V.I. Marshals “to remove the electronic monitoring device from defendant’s ankle to facilitate his transport.”
If anyone has information about the shooting or other crimes they are urged to call police at 911, the Crime Tipline at 340-778-4950, or the anonymous tip service Crime Stoppers USVI at 1-800-222-8477 or CrimestoppersUSVI.org.