Burlington man pleads not guilty to machete attack

Published: Jan. 8, 2018 at 11:52 AM EST
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The man accused of attacking a woman with a machete at a Shelburne motel has pleaded not guilty in court.

Police say Abukar Ibrahim slashed a 73-year-old Meals on Wheels volunteer in the calf with a machete in Shelburne Friday. Police responded to a report of a man with a knife, smashing out car windows at Harbor Place. After a two and a 2.5 hour standoff with police, the 31-year old Burlington man surrendered.

The woman was treated and released from the hospital.

Ibrahim was charged with attempted murder. He's being held without bail.

Now that attempted murder case is shining an unwelcome spotlight on the facility in Shelburne.

The Champlain Housing Trust runs Harbor Place. The hotel is designed to help homeless people get back on their feet. It's also a place where violence is known to break out and police visit often.

Harbor Place is a transitional housing facility that provides temporary emergency housing to those in need.

“It's a safe place,” said Michael Monte, CFO Champlain Housing Trust.

There are 59 rooms at Harbor Place and the state will pay for someone to stay here for up to 84 nights. About 600 people stay at Harbor Place a year. The Champlain Housing Trust says about 120 of them move on to permanent housing. They don't know what happens to the rest.

Police were recently called to Harbor Place three times in four days -- for an alleged attempted murder, a brawl, and an unattended death. So we wanted to know the vetting process for people who stay here.

“We do have a vet for those who have a sexual history and those who are on a list,” said Monte. “That's essentially it.”

People who have a history of being violent to the staff are also not allowed.

Monte says what happened Friday was a mental health issue and it's illegal to screen for that. He also says the facility is not changing any of its practices due to the alleged attack. Volunteers are still stopping by.

“I don't think there has been a conversation with the Meals on Wheels folks. We have had conversations with the person who was attacked,” said Monte.

But with so few options Monte believes Harbor Place is a good alternative for people who are struggling.

“But for the most part people are coming through and staying, some people are staying on their own and moving on to other locations,” said Monte.

Officials and Police say this is part of a pattern. Harbor Place will experience several situations in a row where police are called. But then they tend to see a long stretch with no police activity.