Fountain Valley massacre

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Fountain Valley massacre
Location Fountain Valley Golf Course, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Coordinates 17°44′31″N 64°48′52″W / 17.74194°N 64.81444°W / 17.74194; -64.81444
Date 6 September 1972
Attack type
Mass shooting, robbery
Weapons Firearms
Deaths 8
Non-fatal injuries
Perpetrators Five Afro-Caribbean men

The Fountain Valley massacre was a mass shooting that occurred on the afternoon of 6 September 1972 at the Fountain Valley Golf Course in St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands.[1] The shooting left eight employees and tourists dead. Another eight were either shot at or wounded.

The alleged perpetrators were five Virgin Islanders whom authorities initially believed to have committed the execution-style shooting in the course of a robbery gone bad. However, in court, the defense, led by civil rights activists William Kunstler and Chauncey Eskridge, argued in part that the accused were politically motivated victims of systematic race-based civil rights deprivation; all of the defendants were Afro-Caribbean men, while seven of the eight victims were white.

All five men were convicted of multiple charges of murder, assault, and robbery, and each was sentenced to eight consecutive life sentences in federal detention.[2]

The public's perception of a racially tinged motivation for the killings and fear of further violence led to a steep decline in tourism to St. Croix, from which the island's tourism industry did not begin to recover until decades later.[2]

On 31 December 1984, one of the convicted men, Ishmael LaBeet, hijacked American Airlines Flight 626 while in United States federal custody on a transfer to new detention.[3] The flight was forced to land in Cuba, where LaBeet escaped. He was never recaptured by the United States and, with the thawing of Cuban–American relations in 2015, was confirmed to be living at large in Cuba following an indeterminate amount of time spent in a Cuban prison.[4] Three of the five men remain in prison; another is deceased.[2] LaBeet was the subject of the 2016 documentary film The Skyjacker's Tale.[5]


  1. ^ Day, Jim (6 September 2002). "30 YEARS AFTER MASSACRE, LABEET'S FATE UNKNOWN". St. Croix Source. St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Greaux, Jr., Jean P. (6 September 2002). "FOUNTAIN VALLEY PUT V.I. IN UNWANTED SPOTLIGHT". St. Croix Source. St, Croix, United States Virgin Islands. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  3. ^ Kerr, Peter (1 January 1985). "NEW YORK-BOUND FLIGHT HIJACKED TO CUBA BY CONVICTED MURDERER". The New York Times. New York, New York. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  4. ^ Pennington, Shaun (23 April 2015). "Cuban Diary: Fountain Valley Killer LaBeet Alive and Well in Cuba". St. Croix Source. St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands. Retrieved 24 April 2015. 
  5. ^ "'The Skyjacker's Tale': Film Review | TIFF 2016". The Hollywood Reporter, September 11, 2016.