2 plead not guilty in connection with Burlington homicide

Burlington leaders say more arrests are needed to get gunfire incidents in the city under control.
Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 8:11 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 8, 2022 at 6:57 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Two men arrested in connection with the shooting death of a man in Burlington’s City Hall Park pleaded not guilty in court Thursday morning.

Thursday afternoon, Burlington Police and other city leaders gathered to talk about the killing and what they’re doing to prevent more bloodshed.

The mayor says if the city wants to get its gun problem under control, they need to arrest some more people.

Thursday afternoon, Burlington police and other city leaders gathered to talk about the killing...
Thursday afternoon, Burlington police and other city leaders gathered to talk about the killing in City Hall Park and what they're doing to prevent more bloodshed.(WCAX)

Shots fired in City Hall Park on Sunday killed Bryan Rogers, 32, of Philadelphia, and sent bystanders fleeing the area. Cameras at a nearby business captured video the night of the shooting.

Acting Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad says Christopher Crawford, 42, of New Jersey, pulled the trigger and Joseph Craig, 59, of St. Albans, helped him. They were arrested Wednesday.

Christopher Crawford and Joseph Craig
Christopher Crawford and Joseph Craig(Courtesy: Burlington Police)

“We’ve never had this kind of volume where these detectives have been working basically, unfortunately, almost every other week there has been some kind of gun violence incident that has needed investigation,” Murad said.

According to Burlington Police data, the city has seen three homicides and a total of 23 gunfire incidents so far this year. Of those 23, police say they’ve made arrests in 13 of them. And in 12 of those 13, someone got shot.

“There’s zero tolerance in the city of Burlington or anywhere else in Vermont for criminal gunfire incidents. The current trajectory of violent crime in Burlington is alarming and we refuse to accept a reality where gunfire in downtown Burlington is the new normal,” said Agent Alex Schmidt of the Burlington ATF Field Office.

Mayor Weinberger also called the trend unacceptable, saying more needs to be done to hold people accountable. He also says there is an ongoing conversation around creating a task force to address the issue. “We need more arrests, we need more incarceration. That is what needs to happen now. It’s not where any of us want this to end up. It does represent on some levels a community failure that we’ve gotten to this point,” Weinberger said.

As for Sunday’s murder right outside the mayor’s office, Crawford and Craig are both being held without bail.

“The most we can do in our legal system is to hold somebody. It’s the most punitive thing we can do, it is the most punitive tool that we have. And we’ve used it in every single one of these cases where somebody has been arrested for a shooting incident. We’ll continue to do that when we have the evidence to do so,” Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George said.

Those 23 gunfire incidents in Burlington so far this year are a record in the city. Last year, the Queen City also set a record with 14.

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