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Burlington Mayor Concerned About Gunfire During Drug Raid

Burlington Mayor Miro  Weinberger says he has concerns about a drug raid on Tuesday that sent bullets flying into a neighboring home.

The raid was led by agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration. Suspected heroin dealer Kenneth Stephens was shot and killed after police say he pointed a rifle at them.

Some of the 13 rounds fired by state and federal officers also went through the wall to an adjacent apartment, narrowly missing a resident. 

Weinberger says he has questions about the raid.

“I’m concerned that the bullets left the apartment. And ... I have questions, that should be answered, I think, about whether other citizens were put at risk,” the mayor said. “This should be looked at and it should inform future law enforcement actions.”

The mayor said the DEA will be investigating the shooting. He pointed out that a federal judge approved a warrant that allowed agents to enter Stephens apartment without warning.

Acccording to an affidavit by DEA Task Force Officer Robert Estes, a confidential informant paid by the DEA and wearing recording equipment went to the apartment and bought heroin and crack cocaine from Stephens. There were three such undercover deals at the property between Nov. 9 and Dec. 22, when the shooting took place, the document says.

The affidavit said the confidential informant saw a muzzleloader in the apartment and told DEA agents that Stephens claimed the gun was loaded.

“A federal judge looked at the totality of the information here and decided that a no-knock warrant executed in this fashion was appropriate,” Weinberger said. “I do think this [DEA] review will look into questions like that [about safety] and confirm that this was the best way to approach it.”  

Weinberger says the incident underscores the fact Burlington faces a serious challenge with heroin. He says the drug problem must be dealt with both as a public health issue and as a top priority for law enforcement to stop drug dealers.

“It is not acceptable to have violent felons actively attempting to spread heroin in this community,” he said. “And we value the relationship we have with the DEA and their partnership in working to stop the spread of heroin.” 

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