BARRE, Vt. (WCAX) A Fayston man accused of opening fire in the middle of a Waitsfield road will spend 30 days in jail. It all goes back to an incident last May when police arrested Casey Cook, 30, after they say he fired his gun outside Localfolk Smokehouse.
"It's something that was calculated. It was cold, it was malicious, it was vindictive and it was extraordinarily scary," said Edward Sheean, who was behind the bar at the Localfolk Smokehouse the night Cook was asked to leave for swearing and being disruptive.
Sheehan told police Cook returned to the bar less than an hour later. Tensions quickly rose and Sheehan says Cook punched him in the back of the head as he was trying to call 911. Then, police say Cook left the bar and opened fire in the street.
"It's almost a surreal experience," Sheehan said Wednesday at Cook's sentencing.
Cook was sentenced to two years probation and 30 days in jail for the misdemeanor charges.
Because Cook fired shots into the ground, Washington County State's Attorney Rory Thibault says the charges don't rise to the felony level. "Unfortunately under the state laws, those reflect here as just simple assault and reckless endangerment," he said. "I think it's a frustrating thing that sometimes we're are limited to misdemeanor level of offenses when people think it's a felony."
Thibault says lawmakers determined misdemeanor offenders should face diversion programming. He says Wednesday's sentencing revolves around accountability and that whether it's 30 days or 30 months, prison doesn't change if Cook is a good or bad person. "We can't just put somebody in jail and sit back and expect when they come out they're magically going to be behaving themselves at a bar. It's unreasonable," Thibault said.
"Firstly, I just wanted to apologize," Cook told the judge. He said he could not justify his actions.
Prosecutors hope anger management and restorative justice programming, among other court mandated treatments, will help him realize the damage done to others and the community.
Sheehan agrees Cook should get help, but still believes the sentence isn't enough. "He should pay for the crimes he committed," he said.
Sheehan left that job at the Localfolk Smokehouse just a few months later. He says prosecutors did the best they could, but it still wasn't enough.