The investigation into a July 2019 shootout on St. Croix is detailed in court documents filed against a woman who police say provided investigators with a different gun from the one she used in the shooting.
Michelle Wakefield, 34, was arrested by warrant Dec. 16 and charged with several crimes, including discharging a firearm and reckless endangerment. Her boyfriend, Tony Elizee, 37, turned himself in to police two days later and was charged with a similar list of crimes, according to V.I. Police.
Investigators have been working to piece together the details of the shooting for over a year, according to an affidavit filed by police.
The incident occurred on Wednesday, July 31 when officers responded to a report of gunshots in the area of Evelyn Williams Elementary School in the Estate Mount Pleasant neighborhood.
In an interview on Aug. 13, 2019, Wakefield told police that she was on the porch of a Frederiksted house with her boyfriend at around 10 p.m. when “she heard ‘something’ in the bush, but she was unsure what it was,” according to the affidavit.
Wakefield said that she retrieved her licensed 9 mm Smith & Wesson M&P Shield handgun and fired a single shot in the direction of the noise, “although she did not know who or what was in the bush.”
Wakefield told police “she saw a red truck with no headlights approaching the residence and discharging several gun shots” at the home, so she “stepped onto the driveway and discharged four to five shots from her licensed firearm at the truck,” according to the affidavit. Two other witnesses whose names are redacted from the affidavit “ran to the rear of the dwelling to seek cover.”
Wakefield then said she and a witness got into her car and drove away, and “the truck began to pursue them, and subsequently began firing shots at them,” according to the affidavit.
While driving back to the house, Wakefield was stopped by marked police cars and officers confiscated her Smith & Wesson. Wakefield told officers “that she was the only individual firing a weapon as a measure of self-defense,” according to the affidavit. She told police that her boyfriend “did not have nor fired a weapon.”
Wakefield’s boyfriend, whose name is redacted from the affidavit filed in her case, but who has been identified by police as Elizee, was also interviewed on Aug. 13, who said he’d had a “heated conversation” with another person via telephone before the shootout.
Police also interviewed a prisoner at Golden Grove Adult Correctional Facility whose name is redacted from the affidavit, who said he went to the home on July 31 to drop off $400, and when he arrived with several others in the red truck they were greeted by gunshots.
The prisoner said Wakefield pursued them and kept firing, and “he was grazed by a bullet in his back,” and said he knows Wakefield to carry two different handguns.
A resident of the neighborhood also showed police where several bullets had penetrated through the walls of her home and vehicle, and a forensic technician recovered five spent SIG USA 9 mm Luger casings from the scene, as well as 16 spent FC Federal-USA 9 mm Luger casings in the road, according to the affidavit.
On Aug. 7, 2019, the V.I. Police department’s “Firearm and Toolmark Examiner” determined that “none of the spent casings that were recovered were fired from the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield handgun that was confiscated from Michelle Wakefield,” according to the affidavit. “My investigation reveals that the weapon that Ms. Wakefield provided as the weapon used during the shooting incident is not the weapon that was used to fire upon and graze” the prisoner.
On Nov. 4, 2020, a police forensic sergeant provided the lead investigator with the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network report on the spent shell casings, which showed that the casings recovered from the scene at the home were the same as those found in the roadway, and “Michelle Wakefield confirmed via video statement that she fired the spent casings” located at the home, according to the affidavit.
Wakefield appeared in court on Dec. 18 where Territorial Public Defender Kathryn Slade said Wakefield is a disabled veteran who’s been employed by FEMA since 2018.
Slade said this is her first arrest, and “Ms. Wakefield’s position is that she was acting in self-defense.”
“What strikes me about this case is the reckless nature of what went on here,” said Assistant V.I. Attorney General Eric Chancellor.
While Chancellor asked that Wakefield be made to post $100,000 in cash in order to be released from jail, Magistrate Judge Ernest Morris Jr. allowed her family to post a property worth just over $10,000, and sign an unsecured bond for the remainder of the $100,000.
Elizee appeared in court Monday, and Magistrate Judge Miguel Camacho allowed him to be released upon the promise that his family will post property worth approximately $90,000, and sign an unsecured bond for the remainder of his $100,000 bond.