Danville resident Richard Benoit says a loud, single-car crash woke him up Tuesday night. But when he went out to help, there was no driver in sight. Turns out the car was stolen and the man driving ditched it and broke into Benoit's neighbors' house.
"They heard a banging and they went downstairs and saw him at the door trying to kick it in and scared him off," Benoit said.
Police say that's when the man, later identified as William Mahoney, 35, of St. Johnsbury, hid inside a bus parked at the Danville School. Police say he flipped on the radio and began making threats.
"The male subject sounded agitated, talked about a bomb, stated that he had a handgun and repeatedly made suicidal threats," Vt. State Police Col. Tom L'Esperance said.
He told police two people were going to die. Troopers traced the radio frequency to the school. They say Mahoney-- who had escaped from furlough-- ignored their commands, appeared to grab at his gun holster and charged one of the troopers on the bus.
Benoit only heard what happened next.
"Next thing I know, I heard gunshots and I went uh-oh," Benoit said.
The trooper, whose name is not being released, fired five times. State police say one bullet hit Mahoney in the backside.
"The cops told us he was on probation and to be careful because he has been dangerous, so to lock our doors," Benoit said. "I grabbed the gun inside and grabbed a shell and just kept it by the bed."
Police found CO2 cartridges on Mahoney, but his holster was empty. The stolen car belonged to his girlfriend. There was a BB gun in the back seat and an empty beer can in the front. Neither the bomb squad nor mental health workers were called to the scene. And no one was in the school when the shooting occurred.
Danville School is operating on a normal schedule. Principal Noah Noyes says the scene was cleared before students ever arrived.
"We don't open and operate here unless we're confident that our students are 100 percent safe," Noyes said.
The school was not targeted, but the commander of the state police say incidents like this highlight a troubling trend.
"I am deeply concerned about the crime lately," L'Esperance said. "Things are different now and the level of violence is different. I am certainly concerned about the officers' safety each and every night I try to go to bed."
Mahoney is in critical condition at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. He is facing a slew of criminal charges. The trooper is on paid leave in accordance with state police policy. His name will not be released until Thursday.
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