Police say Burlington man behind two recent shootings
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A Burlington teen pleaded not guilty Thursday in connection with two recent shootings in the Queen City. Police have connected Abukar Hilowle,19, to two incidents earlier this month that were less than 48 hours apart.
“Based on that search warrant and subsequent interviews, felt we had enough to charge him with both of these gunfire incidents,” said Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George on Thursday.
Authorities connected the dots and made an arrest Wednesday. The first shooting happened on August 11th just outside the Market 32 shopping plaza on Shelburne Road. An 18-year-old driving the vehicle was shot by one of his passengers, causing him to crash. Police say Hilowle had the gun and the three men inside the vehicle -- including the 18-year-old who was injured -- said it was an accident.
“Even if the one on August 11th was an accident, it was reckless in the sense that Mr. Hilowle appears to be in the backseat playing with a gun -- a loaded firearm -- with other people in close proximity,” George said.
Hilowle was charged with aggravated assault and reckless endangerment in that case.
Two days later -- after bar closing -- there was a disturbance on Main Street near St. Paul Street. Witnesses -- and a number of surveillance cameras -- caught the city’s 20th gunfire incident this year. Hilowle was eventually identified and told police he shot two strangers in self-defense. Police say he provoked the attack and charged with two counts of attempted murder.
“They didn’t know each other, there was absolutely no basis or reason for it. I understand Mr. Hilowle is claiming self-defense but the surveillance doesn’t support that argument,” George said.
Court paperwork shows a fight broke out between the three men and was caught on camera, but it’s still unclear what led up to the shooting. Based on the information she has now, George says the incident is more random than the 20 or so previous incidents this year. “A lot of prior incidents that we have been dealing with that are unsolved have not been random incidents of violence, they have been targeted, and they have been -- for the most part -- involving the same folks,” she said.
Hilowle is being held without bail.
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