Police investigating deadly shootout in Burlington's Old North End

 Benzell Hampton
Benzell Hampton (WCAX)
Published: Apr. 16, 2019 at 3:38 PM EDT
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One man is dead and another person is recovering at UVM Medical Center following what police are calling a drug-related shooting Tuesday in Burlington.

Burlington Police say it all began just before 3 p.m. at the driveway of a home on North Willard Street. That's where police say 23-year-old Benzel Hampton was shot in the head and killed during a fight with another person.

Police have not released the name of the suspect alleged to have attacked Hampton. They are being treated at the hospital for gunshot wounds and is expected to survive.

Police say Hampton has arrest records in Vermont, Florida, and Georgia.

In the moments following the shooting, an abandoned SUV was found near the University of Vermont campus.

"The car found was of the people who we believe may have had knowledge about what happened," Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo said.

Police later confirmed the connection between the two scenes, saying the man who was shot and killed was being driven to the hospital before stopping on Colchester Avenue.

"They saw an ambulance going in the opposite direction so they flagged it down," del Pozo said. "They got out of the car right there and took the ambulance to the hospital."

The SUV was towed around 4 p.m, lifting a warning that UVM had sent out to students to avoid the area. Police have already removed the crime scene on North Willard but say the investigation is still ongoing.

"That house does have a history of drug or drug-related activity," del Pozo said. "A quantity of crack cocaine was recovered from the body of the victim and some of the statements that we got from witnesses point to drug activity at the time of the violence."

Del Pozo adds that drug dealers are often violent people who settle their dispute with gunfire and says that is the danger in the community.

Police are still looking to speak with witnesses. If you saw anything or have any information you can call 802-540-2286.


6 p.m.

Police in Burlington say a man was shot and killed in Burlington's Old North End Tuesday.

Investigators say Benzel Hampton, 23, was shot in the head during a shootout in the driveway of a home at 227 North Willard Street. It happened at about 2:45 p.m.

Police say the other person in the shootout is alleged to have attacked Hampton. They are being treated at the UVM Medical Center for gunshot wounds and are expected to survive. Police did not release their name.

Police say a vehicle abandoned in the middle of Colchester Ave. Tuesday afternoon was taking the alleged shooter to the hospital.

Police believe the motive is narcotics-related. They say Hampton has arrest records in Vermont, Florida and Georgia, including carrying a concealed weapon. And they say crack cocaine was recovered from his body after his death.

Police were still at the scene on North Willard Street Tuesday evening gathering evidence. There are crime scene markers, presumably for bullet casings. And crime scene tape is blocking off an entire stretch of North Willard Street from Pomeroy Street to Archibald Street.

While they were there Tuesday evening, our crews saw police surrounding a vehicle about 100 feet away from the shooting scene. No word yet on whether that was related.

We know the nearby Burlington Boys and Girls Club went into a modified lockdown Tuesday afternoon. Everything has returned to normal there now.

Witnesses told our Darren Perron there was a person lying outside the home on North Willard Street bleeding and first responders arrived and quickly began working on that person, doing CPR.

A neighbor says this is typically a quiet neighborhood and that you often find kids running around outside. But she says in recent times, there has been a lot of police activity at the house where the shooting took place.

"It's pretty scary... My neighbor said she heard four shots. It's definitely surprising what actually happened, it is pretty scary," said Marina Asaro, who lives across the scene from where the shooting took place.

Over at the second scene near the University of Vermont on Colchester Ave., co-eds received a warning from the school.

Our Erin Brown is following that part of the story.

The intersection of Colchester and Mansfield avenues is clear now, but that was not the case Tuesday afternoon.

That's where police found an abandoned Nissan SUV in the roadway and they blocked off the road as they investigated. The vehicle was towed away just about an hour ago. We have since learned that vehicle was used to bring the alleged shooter to the hospital.

This was all unfolding as classes at the university were still in session and a lot of students were walking around not knowing what was going on.

But they said they received a notification from UVM telling them to avoid the area. Despite that warning, we did see quite a few students walking near the crime scene. Some of them said they hadn't seen the notification and were just carrying on their day as usual. Others said they came down to the scene out of curiosity to see what was happening.

The overall sentiment from students was shock to see such a heavy police presence on campus.

"Kind of concerned for my safety right now because this guy's just running loose in Burlington somewhere. What can we do? We live in a world full of things like this," said Patrick Paniagua, a UVM student.

"There was not much information given in the alert either. Just an incident on this road. So people have no reason to worry but I think this is concerning. He's out there. He or she," said Emily Ciatto, a UVM student.

Police are still investigating.