ST. THOMAS — The first homicide victim of 2021, Lessroy Gumbs, was awaiting trial for attempted murder after a 2019 St. Thomas shootout that left two men injured, according to court documents.
Gumbs, 28, was shot and killed on St. John at around 11:42 p.m. on New Year’s Day, according to V.I. Police.
Police responded to a report of shots fired in Cruz Bay in the area of Pine Peace, and found Gumbs unresponsive with multiple gunshot wounds, police spokesman Toby Derima said in a news release. Emergency Medical Technicians confirmed that Gumbs was dead at the scene of the shooting.
Police have not yet identified a suspect.
At the time he was shot, Gumbs was in violation of the conditions of his pretrial release in the 2019 attempted murder case, which included a curfew of 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday through Friday, according to V.I. Superior Court records. Gumbs was killed just before midnight on Friday, Jan. 1. He had been scheduled to appear in court for a status conference on Jan. 20.
Prior to his 2019 arrest, Gumbs had no criminal record, and was enlisted in the U.S. Navy. His sister told a judge at his initial court appearance that before Gumbs joined the Navy, he attended the University of Southern California on an athletic scholarship before breaking his leg in two places during basketball practice.
According to court records, Gumbs was involved in a shooting that occurred on May 7, 2019, at the First Stop gas station on St. Thomas, adjacent to Oswald Harris Court housing community.
Video surveillance showed Gumbs approaching First Stop and getting into an argument with a group of men seated along a nearby wall, according to an affidavit written by V.I. Police.
V.I. Superior Court Marshal Junior Clarke is seen on the video trying to de-escalate the situation while a man identified as Shamari Elmes, 29, pointed a handgun at Gumbs. Gumbs went back to his vehicle, opened the trunk and removed an AR-style assault rifle, according to police.
Gumbs fired the rifle at Elmes, striking him in the leg, and Clarke was shot in the abdomen, police said.
Elmes was arrested on May 8, 2019, and charged with first-degree assault, reckless endangerment, third-degree assault and possession of a firearm during a violent crime.
James Nathaniel, 23, also turned himself in for arrest and is believed to have been involved in the initial argument that ended in the gunfight, police said. A fourth man, Kadeem Baptiste, 24, was charged with misprision of a felony after he reportedly concealed another person’s role in the crime by giving investigators false information.
Gumbs turned himself in to police on May 9, 2019, and was charged with attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, two counts of assault, reckless endangerment, possession of an unlicensed firearm, possession of an unlicensed firearm during the commission of a violent crime, brandishing and exhibiting a firearm, using or carrying a dangerous weapon and unauthorized possession of a firearm within 1,000 feet of a public housing community.
At his advice-of-rights hearing the following day, a V.I. Police detective testified that surveillance video of the crime scene clearly showed the vehicle, which was rented from Budget, and Gumbs’s Facebook profile photo “matched the face of the defendant on the surveillance as the individual who removed a weapon from the trunk of the rented vehicle,” according to court records.
Gumbs did not surrender any firearms to police when he turned himself in.
Superior Court Magistrate Carolyn Hermon-Percell initially set bond at $150,000 cash or property, which Gumbs was unable to post.
On Nov. 21, 2019, Judge Douglas Brady granted a motion to reduce bail and filed an order allowing Gumbs to be released from the custody of the Bureau of Corrections. Brady required Gumbs and his family to post property valued at $181,600 and $15,000 cash as security for his release, and ordered him to live with a third-party custodian under 24-hour house arrest with electronic monitoring.
On June 3, 2020, Brady modified the release conditions to allow Gumbs to work on St. John for SSVI Expert Builders LLC. Brady ordered Gumbs to remain under curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday through Friday, and adhere to all other laws, court orders, and release conditions.
Gumbs was killed seven months later.
Anyone with information on the murder of Lessroy Gumbs or other crimes is urged to contact police by calling 911, the Criminal Investigation Bureau at 340-774-2211, extension 5617, the Crime TipLine at 340-778-4950, or the anonymous tip service Crime Stoppers USVI at 1-800-222-8477.