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Community members react to Burlington shootout

Published: Aug. 1, 2021 at 7:15 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 2, 2021 at 6:39 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Mayor Miro Weinberger says in the coming days, he will be announcing additional steps to maintain public safety capacity during late night hours in Burlington. This comes after a shooting downtown over the weekend.

Charges are pending for three people connected to a downtown Burlington shooting early Saturday morning. It happened at the Simon’s Mobil across from City Market.

“Peace. We need peace. We don’t need drugs,” said Ahmed, a Burlington transient, who said he was asleep across the street from Simon’s Mobil Saturday. “Around 3:20, I heard shots. So I woke up and saw two Black people shooting each other.”

Burlington police say three men were involved in the shooting, which was captured on the gas station’s surveillance cameras. We showed the video to people near the scene Sunday.

“I definitely don’t expect to see that. I know there’s a population in Burlington that’s not earthy, crunchy, like, college students, but that’s very surprising,” UVM Student Molly Ryan said.

“It’s so sad. More and more stuff is happening like this every day in random places,” said Jonathan Rivera, who is visiting from out-of-state.

Two men and a woman, who was also involved, were arrested after driving away from the scene. While making the arrests, police say they found a sizeable amount of crack cocaine in their truck.

“They’re selling deadly drugs,” Ahmed said. “Lots of homeless people die and overdose from those drugs.”

The shooting happened just around the corner from Church Street where the Festival of Fools is taking place. According to Google Maps, it’s only .01 miles between the heart of downtown Burlington and where the shooting happened. Most people visiting the area say they didn’t know about the shootout but also say they weren’t really surprised.

“It happens in any city,” said Eileen Wolff, who is visiting from Utah with her husband, Vince. “It’s pretty typical where we’re from,” he added.

Ryan called the shooting a wake-up call.

“It’s reality. It’s a good reminder we aren’t in a total bubble up here,” Ryan said. “There is guns and stuff.”

Burlington police are still searching for the third man involved in Saturday’s shooting. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the Burlington Police Department at 802-658-2704.

While Burlington police were addressing this shooting, they say South Burlington police, Colchester police, and University of Vermont police responded to other service calls.

Mayor Miro Weinberger says he’s concerned about the incident that “put the safety of several bystanders at risk and sent ripples of concern through our community.”

He thanked the neighboring agencies for providing mutual aid.

“However, we cannot rely on our neighbors to cover for our shrinking department. Continuing to lose officers, most of whom are already working increased amounts of overtime, is unacceptable and unsustainable,” Weinberger, D-Burlington, said in a statement to WCAX News.

Weinberger says he and Acting Police Chief Jon Murad will be announcing “additional near-term steps to retain our remaining officers and maintain our public safety capacity during the late-night hours” in the coming days. The mayor says they’re also committed to quickly implementing mental health response and CSO programs.

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