Man accused of threatening gun violence at Vergennes school
Police are investigating a threat of gun violence aimed at Vergennes Union High School. They were alerted to the threat Tuesday night. It comes just a week after reports of gunfire in the vicinity of the Vergennes Union Elementary School triggered a lockdown. Our Olivia Lyons has an update.
Police are not releasing the identity of the 19-year-old man who made the threats. But Vergennes Police Chief George Merkel says the two incidents are unrelated and there is no reason for the community to worry about their safety.
"He got mad and made that comment. And then, according to him, he just said as soon as I made the statement I knew what I had done and that was it, and we verified that, too," Merkel said.
The man made a statement to his co-workers at his place of employment regarding gun violence against Vergennes Union High School.
"He's got a personal involvement and because of his relationship with this other person who goes to the school, and because of this relationship he was upset about a situation, something that had developed and he felt it was unfair and he made the comment," Merkel said.
Police are not releasing his name because he is not being charged criminally. Some community members agree with this decision, but others feel differently.
"It probably doesn't affect me, knowing his name or not. And without knowing the circumstances, it could ruin his life if we did know his name and maybe he made a mistake," said Mary Neffinger, a parent.
"Absolutely, I would love to know. Not for any retaliatory reasons but I think we have the right to know who makes those kinds of threats or if there are offenders of any other kind," said Seth Provencher, a parent.
Provencher was at the elementary school last week when the lockdown occurred. Both the police and superintendent have said that the incident was only a report of gunshots and was most likely the sound from a transmitter that blew up nearby. But is it still a reminder no community is immune.
"Didn't really know what was going on at first, just thought it was a drill, but then toward the end of it found out that that has happened and immediately, you start thinking of all the possible scenarios," Provencher said.
Merkel says in situations like this, local and state law enforcement are involved, as well as the state's attorney and the school. They have to question the statute: was there a threat, was there an effort to carry out the threat and was there the ability to carry it out? In this case, there was only a threat.
"We're not talking about someone who is being charged criminally," Merkel said. "And if there is a threat, I will certainly let people know about that."