State police report uptick in drug-related shootings

The circumstances in each shooting vary, but top law enforcement officials say state police...
The circumstances in each shooting vary, but top law enforcement officials say state police have seen an uptick of gun incidents related to drugs(WCAX)
Published: May. 31, 2022 at 6:42 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 1, 2022 at 5:38 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Top law enforcement officials say they’re seeing a concerning statewide trend in shooting incidents.

They say the reasons driving the shootings are numerous and complex. Every shooting is unique, but state police say they’re seeing an uptick in those related to drugs from Brattleboro, to Burlington, to St. Albans, to Springfield.

State data shows some 47 gunfire incidents this year where a person, building, or vehicle was shot.

The circumstances in each instance vary, but top law enforcement officials say state police have seen an uptick in gun incidents related to drugs.

“That’s pretty substantial in terms of what’s been driving gun violence in Vermont,” said Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling

Federal prosecutors confirm they are seeing an uptick in drug trafficking. They say tackling the issue head-on and understanding its root cause is one of their highest priorities

“Often in our work, we are seeing those guns being traded for drugs. The guns heading south and the drugs heading north,” said Vermont U.S. Attorney Nikolas Kerest.

However not all gun crimes involve drugs, and not all drug crimes involve guns.

“Trying to figure out one big reason why gun violence is up is difficult because every case is different,” said Chittenden County States’ Attorney Sarah George.

George says the root causes of gun violence are complex and will efforts in other areas, and they involve income, substance use, mental health, and a big uptick in chronic homelessness.

“Those individuals if they are unhoused are likely not having other basic needs met and when people’s basic needs aren’t met -they find other ways to meet those basic needs on their own,” George said.

Police also say staffing challenges have exacerbated the problem.

Schirling says departments across the state are looking for more cops to be on patrol. “We have to invest in public safety in general, and that means investments in training, hiring the best police officers for our communities.”

And you can play a role. Burlington’s police chief says they are always looking to the community for tips.

“That is a key component of our crime control is the ability to understand who is who within the city and what is going on with narcotics trafficking,” Acting Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad said.

And there’s increased communication among federal, state, and local authorities.

“We have resources devoted to that, and we are working together to make the biggest difference we can to address these issues,” Kerest said.


Burlington police are revealing more about the people of interest in the City Hall Park shootout last Monday morning that sent one man to the hospital with head wounds.

Police say the person who was hospitalized was one of the shooters.

That man is still in the hospital, and we don’t yet know if he will be charged with a crime.

Police say the people in this surveillance video from a Burlington parking garage are involved, but they still don’t know who they are.

No motive from Monday’s shooting has been released either.

WCAX News obtained audio from that shootout, which lasted more than 30 seconds.

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