Burlington residents call recent rise in crimes in the city ‘scary’

Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 5:45 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Burlington police are still investigating after a man was shot to death in City Hall Park last weekend.

Bryan Rogers, 32, of Philadelphia, was shot twice in the head just before 1 a.m. Sunday.

Residents say a recent rise in various crimes in Burlington is concerning.

The shooting Sunday morning marks the third homicide in Burlington in 2022.

We don’t know much about the incident. Police have not offered any potential motives or indicated whether they have a suspect.

Acting Police Chief Jon Murad was not available to answer questions on Wednesday.

In an interview with WCAX News after the incident, Murad said it doesn’t appear to be related to other incidents of gunfire in the city.

“It does not appear to be a dispute that rose and sort of escalated; it appears to have been a very targeted, purposeful attack on an individual by a suspect who had a great deal of intent,” Murad said.

According to Burlington Police data, the city has averaged one murder per year over the last 10 years, so three is unusually high.

But these fatal shootings also come amid a drastic increase in overall gunfire incidents.

From 2012 to 2019, Burlington Police say there were an average of two gunfire incidents per year. That number climbed to a dozen in 2020 and to 14 in 2021. So far this year, there have been 23.

Some residents, like Lindsey Rendall, say it’s not just the shootings, a rise in other incidents is concerning, as well.

“I felt a lot safer here as a child. There was a lot more law enforcement. But after the pandemic, things have changed. I feel like a lot of the crime is happening because they feel like they can get away with it and it’s kind of scary,” Rendall said.

“We have an increase in car theft, retail theft, drug trafficking is on the rise-- we can see that in the number of overdose deaths. I’m a born and raised Vermonter and this is not the Burlington that I grew up in,” said Christina Nolan, a Burlington resident and former federal prosecutor.

Nolan says there need to be meaningful solutions, such as boosting police staffing and investing in resources for departments across the state.

“I don’t want to see another life lost. I don’t want to see another errant bullet in Burlington,” Nolan said. “Hopefully the trends turn around.”

Nolan will be on the panel at a public safety workshop and panel discussion this Friday at City Hall from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event is being organized by a citizen’s group called Keep Vermont Safe. They say the discussion will focus on “identifying impediments around policing and prosecuting” and challenging the “defund the police” movement the organizers say has led to the increased crime in Burlington.

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