Montpelier Police Kill Man, Vermont State Police Investigating Shooting

Aug 9, 2019

Montpelier police shot and killed a man on Friday morning, and Vermont State Police are now investigating the fatal shooting.

Update:

State police identified the man as Mark Johnson, 62, of Montpelier.

In a statement sent Saturday, Vermont State Police announced the name of the officer who fired his patrol rifle during the incident as Cpl. Chad Bean.  According to the state police, Bean has been employed by the Montpelier Police Department since Februray, 2007.  Montpelier Police Officer Chris Quesnel was also present at the time of the shooting, which state police said remains under investigation.

In a statement sent Friday afternoon, police said the incident began about 5 a.m. when a resident in a Main Street apartment complex called Montpelier police to report that a man with a knife had tried to enter his apartment and then left.

The statement said two Montpelier police officers responded and saw Johnson running away holding what appeared to be a handgun. They said police tried to get Johnson to drop the gun. But after several minutes he raised the pistol in the direction of the officers, one of who fired his patrol rifle at Johnson.

Johnson was taken to Central Vermont Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

The weapon turned out to be a Daisy Powerline pellet pistol. State police said no other people or police officers were injured in the incident. 

Major Dan Trudeau, who heads the criminal division at the Vermont State Police, said the Montpelier officers encountered Johnson nearby the apartment building on a bridge over the North Branch of the Winooski River. He said Johnson climbed up on the bridge railing several times as officers tried to talk to him. 

"They attempted to de-escalate with Johnson for a number of minutes, over five minutes at least, attempting to get him to put the gun down, put his hands up, offering him help, everything of that nature," Trudeau said. 

He added that Montpelier police do not have body cam video of the incident but that state police are reviewing footage from their cameras mounted on the dashboards of their cruisers. He said state police would not allow the Montpelier officers to review the video before they are interviewed. 

Trudeau said Montpelier police had responded to several calls in June involving Johnson that seemed to be related to mental illness. He said no arrests were made as a result of those calls. 

A neighbor of Johnson's at the Pioneer Apartments in Montpelier said Johnson had mental health issues, but was a nonviolent, gentle person. The neighbor, John Hyslop, said he did not witness the incident. But he said he did not believe Johnson should have been shot. 

"He was a really gentle person, kind. I used to take him to Burger King or McDonald's and he wouldn't go in if there were more than two or three people there. He was afraid of people. He was timid," Hyslop said.

Hyslop said he believed Johnson locked himself out of his apartment and was trying to get in using a knife.

"If he can't walk the streets safely, none of you can," Hyslop said to a group of reporters at the scene. 

This post was updated at 7:10pm Saturday and on Friday at 2:18 p.m. and again at 3:51 p.m. as more information became available from Vermont State Police.

Original post:

VSP spokesperson Adam Silverman provided a statement Friday morning about the investigation:

Preliminary investigation indicates the incident occurred shortly after 5:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 9, 2019, on Spring Street.

The man who was shot was transported to Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin, where he was pronounced deceased.

The Vermont State Police is investigating the incident and responded with members of the Major Crime Unit, Bureau of Criminal Investigations, Crime Scene Search Team and Field Force.

As of around 10:30 a.m., a police crime lab truck was on the scene and officers appeared to be combing the street for something. A large white sheet was spread over a section of the roadway near the Spring Street roundabout.

State police also sent a traffic notice this morning announcing that Spring Street and its bridge are closed in Montpelier while authorities investigate.