Vergennes Police Log: City schools go into lockdown

VERGENNES — Vergennes police at about 8 a.m. on Dec. 4 decided to request that Vergennes Union elementary and high schools and the nearby Champlain Valley Christian School go into lockdown after a report of the sound of gunshots near VUES.

According to Police Chief George Merkel city police, assisted by Vermont State Police Captain Michael Manley, who was in Vergennes at the time, found nothing to indicate there was a threat to the schools. Police later said the source of the sound might have been a transformer exploding on Panton Road.

Police were nearby assisting on a monthly Walk and Ride to School event and were able to search the VUES building and immediate area quickly and rule out any danger, according to Merkel.

Merkel said he made the decision to call for the lockdown because police did not know the source or nature of the sound reported and have to take such incidents with “the utmost seriousness.” He said the schools’ internal lockdown procedures went as planned. City police and other law enforcement experts have worked with local schools to develop lockdown plans.

In other incidents between Dec. 2 and 8, Vergennes police:

On Dec. 2:

• Dealt with a complaint of a vehicle blocking a South Water Street driveway; it was moved before police arrived. 

• During a Main Street traffic patrol issued two tickets and three warnings; police saw no violations at a later patrol on West Main Street.

On Dec. 3:

• Ticketed three vehicles on Main and Green streets in violation of the city’s winter overnight parking ban.

• Conducted a traffic patrol on Panton Road but saw no violations.

• Dealt with a complaint from a Main Street resident that her ex-boyfriend had stolen DVDs from her apartment; police said they took no action because she could not provide the names of the DVDs stolen or proof of their purchase.

• Stopped a car at the junction of Routes 7 and 22A after a report of erratic operation and determined the driver was fatigued; police cautioned him.

• Responded to the Lower Notch Road residence in Bristol where Vermont State shot and critically wounded a man who they said refused to put down a shotgun outside the scene of an alleged domestic dispute; Vergennes police, along with Bristol police, assisted at the scene.

On Dec. 4:

• Stopped a tractor-trailer unit for defective equipment on North Main Street; police issued a ticket for $668 for the truck being 11,800 pounds over its legal weight, and issued a warning for defective equipment.

• Responded to a report of an alleged assault at Northland Job Corps involving two female students. Police said neither student wished to make a statement about the incident and neither was hurt. Police reported that one of the students was expelled from the program.

• Responded to a report of an intoxicated person at a Main Street apartment and determined the person was suffering from anxiety. The Vergennes Area Rescue Squad evaluated the individual.

On Dec. 5:

• Found the entrance to Vergennes City Hall and the opera house unlocked and tried unsuccessfully to find a keyholder.  

• Responded to a minor Main Street collision between a tractor-trailer unit and a box truck.

On Dec. 6 handled a minor one-car accident in the Small City Market parking lot.

On Dec. 7:

• Responded to a report of a severely intoxicated person found laying in a snowbank on the side of Panton Road and Third Street. Police said the man’s blood-alcohol tested at 0.35%; as a matter of comparison, the legal limit for driving is 0.08%. The drunken man was taken to Porter Hospital to be evaluated.

The man was later taken to a Third Street home, but that night police transported him to the Act 1 detoxification facility in Burlington when he was reported to be heavily intoxicated at that Third Street home.  

• Dealt with a minor two-car accident in the Shaw’s Supermarket parking lot.   

• During a traffic patrol on Monkton Road issued two warnings for speeding and on a West Main Street patrol issued one warning.

• Responded to a report of a physical altercation between two residents of the John Graham Shelter. Police said the incident did not rise to the level of prosecution, but was referred to Adult Protective Services, and one party involved was moved to another facility.

• Responded to a noise complaint at a Main Street apartment and asked an upstairs neighbor to quiet active children. 

• Went to Jersey Street in Panton to help state police with a driver believed to be impaired.

On Dec. 8:

• Ticketed a vehicle parked on Main Street  in violation of the winter parking ban.

• Began investigating a report that a sexual assault had occurred at Vergennes Union High School.

• Dealt with a report of a man throwing an unknown object into the water at Falls Park and determined a man had a dispute with his brother, broke a side-view mirror off his truck and threw it in the river. Police said criminal charges might be forthcoming.

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