COLCHESTER — According to the Vermont State Police (VSP), a Fairfax man sought in a shooting in Underhill has taken his own life after police caught up with him here on Wednesday afternoon.
According to VSP, Evan Labonte, 24, shot another man outside an Underhill home Wednesday at 7:30 a.m.
Labonte then fled, triggering a daylong search that ended in a wooded, marshy area between Creek Farm Road and Interstate 89 in Colchester.
Police were attempting to speak with Labonte from a distance when he took his own life. Officers were close enough to witness his actions.
According to police, Labonte reportedly sent numerous text messages to an ex-girlfriend in the hours prior to the shooting.
While their relationship was reportedly over for some time, police said those messages may have been what prompted Wednesday’s shooting, as the former girlfriend was now in a relationship with the shooting victim.
“They had communication back and forth,” VSP’s Capt. Garry Scott said during a Wednesday press conference. “She’s moved on and he obviously had not, so that’s what we believe right now is – preliminary – an indication of what led to this.”
According to police, Labonte ambushed the victim as he backed his vehicle out of the garage of a home on Meadow Lane in Underhill. Despite being hit by multiple bullets, the victim was able to get back inside and call for help.
Based on the text messages and statements from witnesses, a search was launched for Labonte.
Late Wednesday morning, a vehicle driven by Labonte was located near Sandbar State Park off U.S. Route 2 in Milton. A Chittenden County sheriff’s deputy in an unmarked vehicle followed the vehicle to the Breezy Acres mobile home park at the intersection of Creek Farm Road and U.S. Routes 2 & 7 in Colchester.
Police from multiple agencies began searching the area, while Colchester residents were advised to lock their doors and stay inside. A drone was used to track Labonte, although it lost him several times in the dense vegetation, Scott said.
According to police, Labonte was believed to have been armed and dangerous upon his fleeing of the shooting scene in Underhill.
“The suspect had shot someone and was believed to be carrying a firearm… so there was definitely a threat,” Scott said. “He was mentally unstable at the time due to this matter and injured someone else, so we weren’t sure exactly what we were dealing with, but he was considered armed and dangerous.”
Police made “multiple attempts to contact the suspect” through his cell phone and his ex-girlfriend’s cell phone during the search, Scott said, before ultimately attempting to approach Labonte.
Upon officers’ approach, Labonte took his life, Scott said.
The victim from Wednesday’s shooting in Underhill is in critical condition at the University of Vermont Medical Center. His name is being withheld until his family has been contacted.
Search efforts throughout the day involved the Vermont State Police; police departments from Colchester, Burlington, Essex, Milton, the University of Vermont and Winooski; the Chittenden County Sheriff’s Department; the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles; wardens from the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife; the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the Colchester and Essex rescue squads; Colchester Technical Rescue; and the Underhill Jericho Volunteer Fire Department.
The investigation into the incident remains ongoing and encompasses multiple scenes, in Underhill and in Colchester. Police continue to ask that anyone with information about the events of the day call the Vermont State Police in Williston at 802-878-7111.