Category Archives: Vermont

Killed – Wayne Brunette (Burlington, VT)

Wayne Brunette

Burlington Police fatally shot a man on Randy Lane in Burlington’s New North End Wednesday afternoon.

Burlington police Chief Michael Schirling said officers were responding to a call from Ruthine “Dolly” Brunette, who said her son was acting irrationally and destroying property at their Randy Lane home.

“They were confronted by a man wielding a shovel, and the man was not listening to the demands and requests of the officers,” BPD spokesman Bruce Bovat said. Officer Ethan Thibault fired at the man multiple times. He died a short time later at Fletcher Allen Health Care, according to a Burlington Police release.

Bovat said the man – Wayne Brunette, 49, of Burlington – was otherwise unarmed and it wasn’t clear if anyone was in immediate danger when officers opened fire.

Police say around 4:20 p.m. two officers responded to a house on Randy Lane for a report of a disturbance. Police say an incident began on the front lawn where a middle aged man was wielding a long-handled shovel.

The widow of a man shot to death by a Burlington Police officer in 2013 is suing the city of Burlington and police officials over the incident.

In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court Friday, March 27, Barbara Brunette alleges a systemic failure within the police department to address the rising number of mental health calls in the city.

On Nov. 6, 2013, Brunette’s husband Wayne was shot and killed by Burlington Police outside his family’s home in Burlington’s New North End. When he was shot, Brunette was brandishing a garden shovel. In his family’s call to emergency dispatch, they said Wayne was experiencing a mental health crisis at the time.

The city “saw a 400 percent increase in the number of calls involving persons with mental health issues between the years 2008 and 2013,” the lawsuit says.

Chief Michael Schirling, who is also named as a defendant in the suit, made similar comments at a press conference the day after the shooting.

“The call volume in terms of mental health calls has increased 375 percent in the last five years, so it’s one of the core things that our folks are responding to,” he said then.

The lawsuit alleges that the city “displayed deliberate indifference to the unique nature of these calls and the appropriate response to be employed by its police department and other first responders.”

The lawsuit claims that the city and the police department “have failed to train their police officers in the widely accepted use of crisis intervention and de-escalation strategies in handling mental health calls.”

December 16, 2013

Attorney General William H. Sorrell announced today that his office has completed a review of a shooting that occurred on November 6, 2013, in Burlington, Vermont when an individual was shot by a Burlington police officer. The office concluded, as a matter of law, that Burlington Police Department Corporal Ethan Thibault was legally justified in the use of deadly force when he discharged his firearm at Wayne Brunette. The legal standard for the use of deadly force is whether the officer reasonably believed that he or a third party was in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury, and that deadly force was necessary to respond to that threat.

“Hopefully, the unfortunate death of Mr. Brunette will cause a redoubling of efforts to reduce reliance on law enforcement as the first responders to persons experiencing a mental health crisis,” Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell said, “Further efforts must be made to provide meaningful access to mental health professionals in such circumstances.” The incident began on November 6, 2013, when Ruthine Brunette contacted the Burlington Police Department about her son, Wayne Brunette. She told the police:

I’ve got a problem here with my son that’s upstairs. He’s gone berserk, I think. And I mean I’ve got to do something. He’s cut my apple tree down out front just now. And he’s violent and he’s just mean. We live downstairs. Him and his wife live upstairs over us. And now he says he owns this whole house and the whole property and everything, which he doesn’t. And he’s just … he’s really bad.

Burlington Police Department: Ok, What is he doing right now ma’am?

Ruthine Brunette: Right now! Chased him upstairs. He’s upstairs in the apartment right now. …He was mad cause his father pulled the cord on the thing and he went upstairs and he’s calling us all kinds of names. He says he owns this house and the property and we’re going to be out on the front lawn, me and his father.

Dispatcher Whitehouse: Does he have mental health issues ma’am?

Ruthine Brunette: Yes. Yes he does.
The dispatcher advised her to lock her door and indicated that he would be sending the police.

At 4:19 pm, Burlington Police Department Corporals Ethan Thibault and Brent Navari were dispatched to the Brunette residence at 85 Randy Lane in Burlington’s New North End “for a mental health issue.” Dispatch advised the officers that:

The caller lives downstairs owns property advises her son who lives in the upstairs apartment has been threatening, out of control, destroying property. He is now in the apartment upstairs. She’s downstairs, was advised to stay inside with the door locked.
Upon arrival, Cpl. Thibault spoke to the parents on a walkway leading to the front door of the house. Cpl. Navari stood in the driveway and saw Wayne Brunette in the garage area, then on an upstairs deck by the door to the second-floor apartment and then again exiting the open garage door. When Navari saw him the third time, Brunette was brandishing a long-handled shovel. Navari asked him to put down the shovel and to speak with them. Brunette responded, “No. You’re going to have to shoot me.”

Brunette then charged at Cpl. Navari while wielding the shovel and ignoring commands to drop it. Navari drew his firearm and retreated towards the street seeking to put distance between himself and Brunette. Brunette closed the distance and was within striking distance. Navari had his finger on the trigger and believed that he was going to have to shoot to protect himself.

Cpl. Thibault saw Brunette charging at Cpl. Navari, drew his firearm, and moved towards Brunette ordering him to drop the shovel. This apparently drew Brunette’s attention away from Navari and towards Thibault. Brunette then focused on Thibault and charged at him continuing to brandish the long handled shovel. When Brunette was within striking distance, Thibault fired two shots. The shots did not stop Brunette so Thibault fired two additional shots. Brunette then fell to the ground and dropped the shovel. At 4:26 pm, Thibault radioed for police and rescue to respond.

Witnesses estimated that the entire incident took place in a matter of minutes.

Brunette was transported to FAHC where he was pronounced dead as the result of four gunshot wounds. Toxicology revealed both alcohol and cannabinoids in his bloodstream. According to the Medical Examiner the location of the entrance wounds and the left to right travel of all the bullets could be consistent with Brunette advancing with his left foot forward and torso turned to the right at the time he was shot. The wounds are also consistent with witness statements indicating Brunette was shot while advancing towards the Burlington Police officers while holding or swinging a shovel in front of him with two hands.

As part of the investigation into this incident interviews were conducted of both Cpl. Thibault and Cpl. Navari and also of the civilian witnesses to the incident including Wayne Brunette’s parents. Additionally, the Vermont State Police Crime Scene Search Team was involved in the investigation. As the investigation progressed, reports and recorded interviews were provided by the Vermont State Police to the Attorney General’s Office. The complete investigation report was received on December 12, 2013.

Under the facts of this case, the Attorney General’s Office concluded that Cpl. Thibault was reasonable in his belief that he was in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury when he fired at Wayne Brunette. Given what reasonably appeared to be a serious threat to his life and to the life of Cpl. Navari, Cpl. Thibault’s response of using deadly force was reasonable and justified. The Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s Office has completed a separate and independent review of the investigation and has reached the same conclusion.

Published: Dec 16, 2013

• Two days before the November 6 shooting, Navari and Thibault participated in a Burlington Police Department-designed training course on proper police interaction with people who are mentally ill. Like all Queen City officers, they’d also been through the state’s training program.

• A dispatcher alerted the officers that they would be dealing with a “mental-health issue” before they encountered Brunette. Despite that information, and the fact that the man had had previous run-ins with police, events unfolded so quickly that officers did not know Brunette’s name or law-enforcement history before Thibault opened fire.

• Brunette was inside the house when officers arrived, and the officers spoke with his parents before they encountered him. It was Navari who summoned Brunette to come outside.

“We would like to see the response of police officers to be more circumspect than it is sometimes,” said Ed Paquin, the executive director of Disability Rights Vermont. “They’re not social workers,” he acknowledged, but nor have they “implemented … what people generally agree is a logical response. You still have police reacting fast, making snap judgments — not a whole lot is different than a few years ago.”

Four– that’s the number of times Vermont’s chief medical examiner says Wayne Brunette, 49, was shot in the torso before he was killed. The new details are part of a preliminary report released Monday.

http://digital.vpr.net/post/burlington-police-fatally-shoot-suspect

http://digital.vpr.net/post/widow-sues-burlington-police-2013-shooting-death

http://www.wcax.com/story/23898759/bpd-officer-involved-shooting-in-new-north-end

http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/vpr/files/brunette_complaint_vpr.pdf

http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/local/2015/04/02/widow-man-killed-police-sues-burlington-officers/70866234/

http://ago.vermont.gov/focus/news/burlington-police-officer-justified-in-use-of-deadly-force.php

http://vtdigger.org/2013/12/16/officer-cleared-shooting-death-burlington-man/

http://archive.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20131216/NEWS02/312160026/Prosecutors-clear-officers-in-fatal-Burlington-Vermont-shooting-Wayne-Brunette-Ethan-Thibault-Brent-Navari

http://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/they-didnt-know-his-name-new-details-emerge-on-fatal-burlington-police-shooting/Content?oid=2296254

http://www.wcax.com/story/24002269/autopsy-burlington-man-shot-4-times-by-cops

http://vtdigger.org/2015/04/02/widow-of-mentally-ill-man-shot-by-burlington-police-sues-city/

http://archive.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20131107/NEWS07/311070035/State-police-lot-work-do-Burlington-shooting-investigation

http://archive.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20131107/NEWS02/311070048/Witness-recalls-fatal-Burlington-Vermont-police-shooting-Wayne-Brunette

http://www.rutlandherald.com/article/20131107/THISJUSTIN/131109974

http://archive.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20131216/NEWS02/312160026/Prosecutors-clear-officers-in-fatal-Burlington-Vermont-shooting-Wayne-Brunette-Ethan-Thibault-Brent-Navari

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/burlingtonfreepress/obituary.aspx?pid=167981833

http://www.tributes.com/obituary/show/Wayne-J.-Brunette-96828619

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Killed – Anna Algers (St Albans, VT)

Anna Alger2

The 31-year-old victim from Highgate, Anna Alger, who leaves behind a young daughter, was found with gunshot wounds in her back and head.

The horrific killing happened at about 6pm after the suspect, Matthew Webster, 30, of Swanton, ran a red light at North Main and Lower Newton Street and nearly hit her car as she was coming off Lower Newton Road.

A Vermont man who’d just argued with his wife over his extramarital affair went for a drive with a gun in his hand, intending to kill himself, but instead shot to death a stranger who came at him “like a six-point buck” in what police described as a road rage encounter in St. Albans.

Matthew Webster, 30, of Swanton, pleaded not guilty Thursday to the shooting death the day before of Anna Alger, 30, of Highgate. Webster was ordered held without bail.

Webster was driving home Wednesday afternoon after breaking up with the woman he’d been having an affair with, his wife told police. She had driven after him to ensure that he went through with the breakup.

Webster told police he had a gun in his hand as he was driving and intended to kill himself, but the gun did not fire.

On his way home, Webster allegedly ran a red light and was nearly struck by Alger’s car. His wife saw him running the light and called to tell him he had done so, court documents said.

After Webster got the call, he pulled over because he realized he was in no condition to drive. He got out of the car, he said, but didn’t realize he still had the gun in his hand.

Alger had followed him.

She got out of her car and was yelling as she approached Webster, according to court papers.

With his wife watching, Webster said, Alger charged “like a six-point buck coming over a hill,” St. Albans police Detective Benjamin Couture wrote in an affidavit.

Webster told police he then shot Alger because he thought that would stop her. But, he said, she kept coming and he emptied the clip. He then reloaded.

Investigators found 11 empty 9 mm shell cases on the roadway near where Alger was shot, the court documents said.

Webster told police that after he shot Alger he tried to shoot himself, but the gun did not fire.

http://www.pressherald.com/2013/09/26/woman-fatally-shot-in-road-rage-incident-in-vt/

http://www.9news.com/video/2712876302001/1/St-Albans-shooting-victim-Anna-Alger-remembered

http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/local/2015/04/02/defense-dismiss-st-albans-road-rage-case/70828342/

http://www.wcax.com/story/23535718/swanton-man-denies-charges-in-deadly-road-rage-shooting

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/09/27/road-rage-killing-vermont/2883173/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2434116/Matthew-Webster-arrested-killing-Anna-Alger-road-rage-murder.html

http://www.vnews.com/news/8692869-95/police-vt-woman-killed-in-road-rage-encounter

http://www.mychamplainvalley.com/story/d/story/police-woman-killed-in-road-rage-incident-in-st-al/29349/9cFImLiUnEGYnaKYXxwC1w

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/video/st-albans-shooting-victim-anna-alger-remembered/2712876344001

http://www.samessenger.com/tag/anna-alger/

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/burlingtonfreepress/obituary.aspx?pid=167186023

http://www.vermontobits.org/vermont-obituaries-funerals-and-death-notices/selected-obituary/79/anna-marie-alger/

http://www.tributes.com/obituary/show/Anna-Marie-Alger-96465603

Murder/Suicide – Dead – Troy Gray (Fairlee, VT)

Troy Gray

A 42-year-old man fatally shot his wife and then killed himself inside their Fairlee home early Tuesday, State Police said, just days after she withdrew a second restraining order that she had taken out against him for alleged domestic violence.

Troy Gray was inside his home on Sunrise Drive around 8 a.m. yesterday when he fired one shot from a Winchester rifle at Rhonda Gray, 43, before shooting himself once, police said.

A person who lived inside the home heard the gunshots coming from the second-floor kitchen, discovered their bodies and called police.

Troopers had visited the home on Monday night, after receiving a report that Troy Gray had entered the home, against his court-ordered conditions of release stemming from a charge of assaulting Rhonda Gray in late July.

When troopers arrived at the home, however, Rhonda Gray denied that her husband had been there, and there was no other evidence to support charging Troy Gray, Maj. Ed Ledo said yesterday.

http://www.vnews.com/lifetimes/8054166-95/couple-dead-in-fairlee

http://www.wptz.com/news/vermont-new-york/burlington/murder-suicide-reported-in-fairlee/21447798

http://www.wcvb.com/news/local/man-kills-woman-himself-in-fairlee-vermont-police-say/21456552

http://archive.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20130813/NEWS07/308130013/Police-investigate-murder-suicide-in-Fairlee

http://www.wcax.com/story/23123721/police-investigate-murder-suicide-in-fairlee

http://www.vnews.com/home/8078601-95/rhonda-lynn-gray

http://www.knightfuneralhomes.com/fh/obituaries/obituary.cfm?o_id=2195650&fh_id=12258

http://www.tributes.com/show/Troy-Dean-Gray-96269268

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/rutlandherald/obituary.aspx?pid=166463178

Murder/Suicide – Killed – Rhonda Gray (Fairlee, VT)

female

A 42-year-old man fatally shot his wife and then killed himself inside their Fairlee home early Tuesday, State Police said, just days after she withdrew a second restraining order that she had taken out against him for alleged domestic violence.

Troy Gray was inside his home on Sunrise Drive around 8 a.m. yesterday when he fired one shot from a Winchester rifle at Rhonda Gray, 43, before shooting himself once, police said.

A person who lived inside the home heard the gunshots coming from the second-floor kitchen, discovered their bodies and called police.

Troopers had visited the home on Monday night, after receiving a report that Troy Gray had entered the home, against his court-ordered conditions of release stemming from a charge of assaulting Rhonda Gray in late July.

When troopers arrived at the home, however, Rhonda Gray denied that her husband had been there, and there was no other evidence to support charging Troy Gray, Maj. Ed Ledo said yesterday.

http://www.vnews.com/lifetimes/8054166-95/couple-dead-in-fairlee

http://www.wptz.com/news/vermont-new-york/burlington/murder-suicide-reported-in-fairlee/21447798

http://www.wcvb.com/news/local/man-kills-woman-himself-in-fairlee-vermont-police-say/21456552

http://archive.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20130813/NEWS07/308130013/Police-investigate-murder-suicide-in-Fairlee

http://www.wcax.com/story/23123721/police-investigate-murder-suicide-in-fairlee

http://www.vnews.com/home/8078601-95/rhonda-lynn-gray

http://www.knightfuneralhomes.com/fh/obituaries/obituary.cfm?o_id=2195650&fh_id=12258

http://www.tributes.com/show/Troy-Dean-Gray-96269268

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/rutlandherald/obituary.aspx?pid=166463178

Killed – Rachel Coburn (Barton, VT)

Rachel Coburn

New information about a murder in the Northeast Kingdom. A 76-year-old from Glover is behind bars for allegedly killing a woman, who friends say, was loved by an entire community.

Two police troopers secured the home on West Street in Barton Saturday morning, while the body of 72-year-old Rachel Coburn was sent to Burlington for an autopsy. On Friday evening, state police took evidence from the house. Police say Coburn died from a single gun shot wound, fired by 76-year-old Carleton Bickford, of nearby Glover.

Bickford told police that he and Coburn got into an argument. He said he left her home and returned with the shot gun. Police say, after an extended period of time, Bickford turned himself in. Police say he also attempted to take his own life.

“There are indications that they were in a romantic relationship that seems to be backed up by some of the statements received by interviews we’ve done,” said Detective Sargent David Petersen of the Vermont State Police.

Bickford told investigators after the argument, he left Coburn’s home, but returned later in the day with a family member’s shotgun.

According to court documents, Bickford told officers about his relationship with Coburn, “If I couldn’t have her nobody was going to.”

BURLINGTON — The 76-year-old Glover man accused of murdering a Barton grandmother after an argument over their relationship has died of apparent natural causes, Vermont State Police say.

Carlton Bickford died Friday night while he was a patient and still in state custody at Fletcher Allen Medical Center, according to state police Detective Sgt. Dave Petersen of B Troop Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

He’d gone to Ms. Coburn’s about 8:30 Friday morning with his usual coffee and newspaper.  An argument had ensued, but he said he thought he could work things out.  A couple of hours later he left, thinking he could “think it over and keep things clear in his mind,” court records say.

 

http://www.wcax.com/story/22948817/new-details-emerge-about-murder-in-barton

http://www.wptz.com/news/vermont-new-york/burlington/1-county-2-homicides-under-investigation/21238456

http://littletonrecord.com/main.asp?SectionID=22&SubSectionID=121&ArticleID=43691

http://bartonchronicle.com/tag/rachel-coburn/

http://bartonchronicle.com/in-barton-shooting-strikes-the-heart-of-two-communities/

http://www.curtis-britch.com/memsol.cgi?user_id=1050070

http://www.wptz.com/news/vermont-new-york/burlington/man-76-charged-in-killing-of-woman-72/21235850

Killed – George Kouzoujian (Westfield, VT)

George Kouzoujian

WESTFIELD, Vt. –
Police say the man found murdered in the Northeast Kingdom is George Kouzoujian, 61. He was found dead in a storage trailer at his Westfield home Tuesday.

An autopsy shows he died from multiple gunshot wounds to the head.

The crime was discovered when the suspect, Peter Lavalette, 49, of Derby, was pulled over for a traffic violation in Indiana, and confessed to police that he was involved in a Vermont homicide.

Police say Lavalette had done odd jobs for Kouzoujian, but they have not released a possible motive for the crime.

Kouzoujian lived part-time in Westfield and was employed as a movie set carpenter in New York City. He had worked on such films as “Crocodile Dundee,” “Malcolm X” and the most recent “Indiana Jones” movie.

Lavalette is being held in Indiana pending extradition to Vermont.

Police say Kouzoujian was shot multiple times in the head on June 28.

http://www.wcax.com/story/22755122/police-id-westfield-murder-victim

http://www.wcax.com/story/22864522/charges-upgraded-in-westfield-murder

http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20130710/NEWS07/307100020/Suspect-in-Westfield-slaying-denies-murder-charge

http://orleanscountyrecord.com/main.asp?SectionID=14&SubSectionID=113&ArticleID=42132

http://www.berkshireeagle.com/localnews/ci_23682044/charge-upgraded-killing?source=rss

http://www.wptz.com/news/vermont-new-york/burlington/upgraded-murder-charge-in-fatal-shooting/21016972

http://bartonchronicle.com/in-westfield-police-have-suspect-in-homicide/

Murder/Suicide – Killed – Mark Peabody (Caledonia, VT)

Mark Peabody

A New Hampshire man who authorities believe gunned down former school principal Mark Peabody in Peacham before killing himself may have planned to survive the attack and escape the scene.

Records indicate Dr. John Jackson of Amherst, N.H., found dead inside Peabody’s home Wednesday, was deeply disturbed about issues related to his divorce from Peabody’s wife, Jeanne Peabody, 13 years ago.

Police said Jackson shot Mark Peabody to death on the front lawn of Peabody’s house and then committed suicide inside the home. But police said that Jackson, who was a bald man, was wearing a wig and driving a rented SUV when he arrived at Peabody’s Slack Street home early Wednesday morning.

MANCHESTER – Manchester V.A. Medical Center is offering counseling to its staff and patients after a “well-loved” doctor there allegedly killed his ex-wife’s husband and then himself in Vermont last week.

Vermont State Police said Dr. John Jackson, 59, of Amherst went to the home of his former wife, Jeannie Peabody, in Peacham, Vt., last Wednesday morning. There, police said, he shot Mark Peabody, 50, twice in the chest after Peabody went outside to investigate a suspicious vehicle.

Jackson then entered the residence and shot himself in the head, according to a news release.

Police said Jeannie Peabody, 60, had called 911 around 7 a.m. on June 19, reporting a white van with New Jersey plates was on her lawn. Her husband had gone outside to confront the driver, and Mrs. Peabody told police she heard three gunshots.

http://caledonianrecord.com/main.asp?SectionID=180&SubSectionID=778&ArticleID=95992

http://www.unionleader.com/article/20130622/NEWS03/130629684&template=mobileart

http://www.wptz.com/news/vermont-new-york/burlington/two-bodies-found-at-peacham-home/20633476

http://caledonianrecord.com/main.asp?SectionID=4&SubSectionID=144&ArticleID=96142