ATF Agent Faces Murder Charge in U.S. Virgin Islands

Earlier this month, the acting director of the ATF recorded a video message for ATF agents to update them on the Clark case. Kenneth Melson, who emphasized that an ATF shooting review panel had unanimously concluded Clark's actions were justified and legal, said he knew agents were troubled by Clark's case. "I have been monitoring all aspects this case to ensure that I am taking all possible actions to support Will,' said Melson. "Accordingly, all agents have been removed from the island until further notice while we make sure that our agents are never again subjected to the ordeal being faced by Will Clark."

"I think the Virgin Islands Attorney General should be giving Will an award, not violating his human rights by convicting him in a medieval-run court," said Jonathan Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, a group that represents 25,000 officers from 55 different agencies, including ATF.

Said Adler, "I fully support ATF's decision to withdraw all their enforcement officers and I encourage all agency directors to pull their law enforcement officers out of what has become the 'lawless islands.'"

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A spokeswoman for the Virgin Islands police confirmed that in 2009, the murder rate in the Virgin Islands was 51 per 100,000 population – a figure eight times the U.S. average. The violence was concentrated on St. Thomas, the center of population and the tourist industry. St. Croix and St. John, the other two major islands in the group, had far less criminal activity.

On Monday, July 12, a 14-year-old tourist from the neighboring U.S. island of Puerto Rico was killed on a tourist bus in St. Thomas when she was hit by crossfire from a gang shootout. Lizmarie Perez Chapparro, a cruise ship passenger who was taking an island tour and was headed to a popular beach, died in front of her family. A second cruise ship passenger on the bus was also injured in the crossfire, and a teenage bystander on the street was killed.

A spokeswoman in the Attorney General's office of the U.S.V.I. declined to comment on Clark's prosecution, other than to say that Clark was being prosecuted for a local crime, and that the decision not to transfer the case to federal court was made by the judge. Clark's trial is currently scheduled to begin in October.

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