SALISBURY — Vermont State Police late Friday released the names of the two troopers who were first to arrive on the scene at an incident early Thursday morning that ended in the death of 52-year-old Gerald “Dusty” Woodburn. State police said Woodburn took his own life following his involvement in a domestic dispute at his home off Lake Dunmore Road during the early morning of Nov. 17.
Trooper Second Class Lewis Hatch, age 23, and Trooper Second Class Kaitlyn Armstrong, age 24, were the first troopers on the scene. Both are stationed at the New Haven barracks, and both were placed on paid leave, per VSP policy, during the investigation of the incident. At the early morning incident, Trooper Hatch fired a shot at Woodburn after Woodburn allegedly leveled a firearm at police officers.
State police said late Friday that it had not yet been determined if the round fired from Hatch’s gun hit Woodburn.
Although a report from the state medical examiner’s office was also expected Friday, VSP late today said the autopsy was not yet complete and is pending further investigation.
It is hoped that the medical examiner’s report, when it is finished, will further clarified a tragic incident that began with a call to VSP dispatchers at 12:08 a.m. on Thursday from the apartment off Lake Dunmore Road. The caller — whom police did not identify to the public — said that Woodburn, her live-in boyfriend, had taken her cell phone, had a firearm, and had left the residence.
Troopers Hatch and Armstrong responded to the caller’s residence. While the troopers were en route, Woodburn returned home and entered the residence, where the woman was home with her two brothers, according to a VSP press release.
Upon their arrival, the troopers met the two brothers outside of the residence; they told police the woman and Woodburn were inside having a domestic argument.
State police said the troopers met the woman at the front door and were allowed inside the residence. Once inside the troopers attempted to separate the woman and Woodburn in order to obtain statements from them as to the nature of the domestic disturbance. When the troopers attempted to interview the woman and Woodburn, the woman told the troopers that Woodburn had a gun.
Woodburn then allegedly raised the gun, pointing it at the troopers. At that point, Trooper Hatch fired a single round at Woodburn, according to police. The troopers said they then lost sight of Woodburn as he retreated further into the residence. As the troopers moved to a position of cover and called for further assistance, they reported hearing another shot from inside the residence.
Troopers from the Rutland barracks, as well as officers from the Middlebury and Brandon police departments, responded to assist. The VSP Tactical Services Unit and Hostage Negotiation Unit were also activated and responded to the residence. Everyone was evacuated from the building, including the woman who had summoned police, and a perimeter was established around the residence.
Attempts to contact Woodburn inside the residence were unsuccessful, whereupon the state’s Tactical Services Unit entered the residence and discovered Woodburn dead inside from what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. VSP Director Col. Thomas L’Esperance, during a phone interview with the Addison Independent, confirmed no one else was injured during the incident.
Neighbors in two units were evacuated, and were ultimately permitted to return home by around 4:30 p.m. that afternoon.
Both Troopers Hatch and Armstrong were hired on Jan. 17, 2011, were graduates of the 91st Vermont State Police Class, and were stationed at the New Haven Barracks on July 12, 2011.
VSP Public Information Officer Stephanie Dasaro said that once the investigation is completed the case will be reviewed by the Vermont Attorney General’s Office, as is customary in an officer-related shooting.