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Queen City business caught in the middle of shooting spree

Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 4:16 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - There’s growing frustration from Burlington businesses and residents after a spree of recent shootings downtown, and serious concern about police readiness in the wake of recent budget cuts.

Over the last two weekends, late-night fights and gunfire have broken out on South Winooski Avenue outside Simon’s Mobil station, leaving bullet holes in the business, and the store’s owner of over 40 years, in shock. “I’ve seen a lot of people come, and a lot of people go, but I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Charles Handy

Surveillance video from early Saturday morning shows what police describe as a large fight between 10 to 12 people, during which shots were fired. It comes after police responded to a “gun battle” in the same location the previous Saturday.

“This is more than the business people can handle. I mean, what am I supposed to do, hire a security guard to be here? We can’t afford to do that. We need protection. It’s very simple, we need protection. We need someone to protect us,” Handy said.

Handy says the staffing issues at the Burlington Police Department have created a sense of uncertainty at the shop, leaving them to wonder where that protection is.

“After midnight, they don’t have that many cops on duty anymore, so they know nobody is going to come around, nobody’s watching, So they do whatever they want,” he said

The increased violence in the heart of downtown comes at the height of the summer tourism season in the Queen City. Handy says after discussions with other people in the area, he fears Burlington’s reputation is on the line. “I’ve talked to a lot of people and say that I’m in downtown Burlington. She says, ‘I’d rather not come to downtown Burlington’ for a reason. This is the most beautiful place in the country right here -- downtown Burlington -- next to a beautiful lake. We need the tourism to come in and spend money so we keep the economy going and pay our taxes. We just cannot continue doing this,” Handy said.

Neither the Burlington Police nor city officials responded to a request for comment Monday on what steps are being taken to address the problem.

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