Police called to scuffle at Middlebury town office
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury police are investigating an alleged physical confrontation reported Tuesday morning, Aug. 9, between Jamie Gaucher, the director of the town’s Office of Business Development & Innovation, and a local resident formerly known as Ryan Kim, who recently changed his name to “Rocket.”
It was at around 8:30 a.m. that the Independent’s police scanner signaled news of an alleged “fight” at the Middlebury town offices at 77 Main St. A short while later, emergency responders confirmed that one of the alleged combatants had sustained a facial injury.
As of this writing, police have yet to reveal who was injured, how the conflict began, or whether any charges are to be leveled against one or both of the alleged parties.
“We are still trying to iron this out,” Middlebury Police Chief Tom Hanley said at 9:48 a.m. in response to an emailed request for comment.
“Both (Gaucher and Rocket) are in the police department right now giving statements and we are going to be downloading any security footage from the cameras at the building,” he added. “There were also a number of witnesses that need interviewing.”
Ryan Kim helped lay the groundwork for the Middlebury Business Development Fund (MBDF) in 2011 as a student at Middlebury College. He legally changed his name to Rocket and recently moved back to Middlebury. He recently applied unsuccessfully for a $10,000 MBDF grant, which he would have used to produce a promotional film on YouTube, according to Hanley. Rocket also pitched his project directly to the town and the Middlebury College Public Affairs Office, but was turned down, police said.
After this story was posted, Rocket contacted the Independent to clarify that he had not specifically asked for funding for his project, which was actually a series of short promotional videos about Middlebury, not a single film. Rocket said he didn't pitch his promotional video project to the college, though he did chat with the college's vice president for public affairs about it.
Rocket has publicly expressed dissatisfaction with the MBDF — for which Gaucher is the top administrator — at public meetings in Middlebury this summer.
Rocket took issue with the characterization of his comments as expressing dissatisfaction; he said his words at a selectboard meeting were an “announcement of (his) inquiry.”
The MBDF is jointly funded by the college, town and business community, and is designed to promote business growth and jobs creation in Middlebury. Rocket has sought interviews with several individuals in the town, college and business community who either helped establish the MBDF or who currently help guide its activities. He has also sought interviews with Addison Independentpersonnel regarding the MBDF.
Hanley confirmed that on Wednesday, Aug. 3, Middlebury police — out of some concerns voiced by some town officials — stationed an officer outside of the municipal building meeting room in which the MBDF advisory board (and Gaucher) held a meeting at which Rocket was present. Hanley said there was no disturbance at that meeting.
Rocket told the Independent that Gaucher told him that he was not welcome at the meeting but that a selectwoman had invited him to listen in.
The Independent will update this story for its on-line and print editions as more details become available.
Editor's note: This story was updated to include clarrifications or corrections provided by Rocket.