Caught on camera: Gunfire strikes bystander in Burlington shooting

Published: Jun. 6, 2021 at 9:50 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 6:23 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The first full weekend of bars being open until 2 a.m. since the start of the pandemic brought gun violence to the heart of Burlington.

Burlington Police say they are still looking for a man who fired a gun early Saturday morning.

One shot was fired near the southeastern entrance to City Hall Park early Saturday morning. It ricocheted down the street and struck an innocent bystander. Now, Burlington Police are asking for the public’s help to look at the security footage and hopefully identify the individuals involved.

In footage released by the Burlington Police Department, an individual is seen in white walking down Church Street around 2:45 a.m. Saturday morning arguing with another individual. After they turn the corner, another camera on City Hall captures them fighting while others attempt to step in. Then one produces a firearm and allegedly shoots it at the other individual who was not hit. That bullet ended up striking and bruising a bystander after it had lost all its kinetic energy.

“Bullets flying in downtown Burlington is very concerning. It’s concerning to the police, it’s concerning to our neighbors, it’s certainly concerning to that person who was struck and only by a miracle of physics was not more seriously injured,” said Acting Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad.

Police say they were not called until 15 to 20 minutes after the incident even though there were many bystanders who witnessed the unfolding situation.

Murad says in previous years before their staff was cut by 30%, they would have had on-foot officers in that area, but now, it’s not possible.

“Our current staffing resources prohibit that we cannot put officers on foot in that location, we have to leave them in cruisers for a mobile response. So we will come when called and officers did come when called but in this instance, those calls did not come for 15-20 minutes,” said Murad.

Murad says from 2012-2019 gunfire incidents were at an average of two per year. 2020 had 12 incidents and now this is the sixth of 2021.

“Would officers’ presence on the scene necessarily have prevented this? Prevention is one of those things there’s no way to know what you are preventing,” Murad said.

Back in February, BPD was authorized by the City Council to hire 10 unarmed community service members, something the chief says he is in favor of.

Progressive City Councilor Zoraya Hightower, one of the councilors who voted for the cuts to the department, said in a statement: “I hope that’s an option they will prioritize so we can begin the process of changing how we as a city respond to incidences both in being more proactive to certain community needs and in having armed officers focus on armed incidents.”

Anyone with any information on those involved in the incident should call Burlington Police Department at 802-540-2288.

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