ST. ALBANS CITY – A man believed to be a source for a new drug which has made an appearance in the area over the past two weeks shot himself this morning after taking a shot at two St. Albans Police Dept. (SAPD) officers, according to Chief Gary Taylor.
The officers were not struck by the bullet, but were hit by breaking glass.
The SAPD is not releasing the name of the man until after the family has been notified.
The incident began when a mental health officer and two SAPD officers decided to visit the home to check on the welfare of the decedent’s girlfriend, who had been to the Northwestern Medical Center (NMC) emergency department nine times over the past two days.
The woman was one of several who have apparently reported paranoia and hallucinations to medical professionals. Taylor said it was believed a street drug might be responsible, and the SAPD began an investigation.
That investigation led to the deceased, who was the subject of a motor vehicle stop on Tuesday. His car was seized while police obtained a warrant. Inside they found heroin, crack cocaine, powder cocaine, fentanyl and a granular blue substance he described as Molly, according to Taylor. It wasn’t Molly. “It’s some kind of handmade, synthetic amphetamine,” said Taylor.
Plans were being made for his arrest at the time the officers and counselor went to the home at around 10:30 or 10:45 this morning to check on the woman’s welfare, a man fired a gun through a door window at the officers, Sgt. Joe Thomas and Sgt. Frank McCarty.
The shattering glass left both men with injuries to their face and head, Taylor reported. “The bullet must have passed between them,” said the Chief.
The officers did not return fire. They retreated and a tactical team was sent in. Residents say they were asked to remain in their homes while the situation was resolved.
By placing a ladder up against the back of the home, officers were able to extract the woman through a window. “She was concerned that the other person had shot themselves,” Taylor said.
When officers entered the home, they found the man dead from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head, Taylor reported.
Once officers were satisfied there was no one else in the building, the officers withdrew.
No shots were fired by any police officers, Taylor said.
He has asked Vermont State Police (VSP) to conduct the death investigation to insure objectivity.
VSP investigators are currently on the scene.
More than 30 officers from the SAPD. VSP and Franklin CountySheriff’s Office responded to the incident this morning.
Bellows Free Academy in St. Albans students were placed on a secure status and instructed to remain in classrooms and out of the hallways during the incident.
No shots were fired by police.
The Messenger will have an update on this story in tomorrow’s edition.
UPDATE: This story was updated at 3:20 p.m. after speaking with Northwestern Medical Center to clarify that reports to the SAPD of this new drug may have come from multiple medical providers or other sources and not solely from NMC as initially reported.
UPDATE: This story was updated on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. to clarify that the deceased was not arrested on Tuesday, but was stopped while driving by the SAPD, which then seized his car while a warrant was obtained for a search.