Burlington man charged with murder in downtown stabbing

Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 11:47 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A Burlington man pleaded not guilty Friday to second-degree murder in the stabbing death of a man outside a downtown restaurant last weekend.

Police say Von C. Simmonds, 40, of Burlington allegedly killed 23-year-old Abubakar Shariff. According to court paperwork, a group of friends was inside Piesano’s restaurant on Main Street around 3 a.m. Sunday. The group was confronted by another man and a fight, broke out. One person involved later told police the fight started because of an argument over a woman.

“It was a fight, it moved around within the restaurant. During the fight, it appears that Mr. Shariff was actually attempting to prevent the fight from escalating. move people apart,” said Burlington Police Acting Chief Jon Murad.

That’s when police say, Von Simmonds, who was not associated with either group, entered the restaurant, took a chef’s knife from behind the counter, and stabbed Shariff in the chest. He died soon after at the hospital.

Police had help from the public and DMV in identifying Simmonds. Murad says those involved have been associated with other violence in the city, including a 2021 gunfight at Simons Gas Station and a gunfire incident on Church Street. “We knew that a single party had been responsible for this murder with regard to the use of the knife. Our object and primary goal was to find out who that was and make an apprehension for that,” he said.

Murad says even with full staffing at the department, officers probably wouldn’t have been out in force at 3 a.m. “We were there at the scene quickly enough to find Mr. Mohammad, who was still in the vicinity, but would there have been a huge police presence at a 3:08 in the morning altercation -- probably not,” he said.

The others involved in the fight are going to be cited with disorderly conduct. As for Simmonds, he pleaded not guilty and is currently being held without bail.

According to court paperwork, Simmonds was on federal parole at the time of the murder. This stems from federal drug charges that resulted in Simmonds serving a 35-month prison sentence.

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