Wave of ‘impulse violence’ hits Vermont

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(Host) There was an extraordinary wave of violence in Rutland and Bennington counties over the past day.

Five people died in three different violent incidents.

VPR’s Ross Sneyd reports that public safety officials worry the crimes are part of a disturbing new trend.

(Sneyd) Police say there are no indications that the crimes are connected.

The wave started early Thursday in Rupert when a five-year-old girl dialed 911. She’d found her mother and her mother’s boyfriend dead. The girl told authorities the couple had been arguing.

Later that day, in Rutland, two men got into an argument in a downtown parking lot. It ended with one of them being stabbed. He died later at the hospital.

And then, last night, in Brandon, there was another incident. There, a man forced his way into a woman’s apartment, shot her boyfriend and then shot himself. Both men died.

Colonel James Baker is commander of the Vermont State Police.

He says each of the incidents was isolated. But they’re also illustrations of what he describes as a disturbing trend.

(Baker) "There is a culture of impulse violence that is beginning to concern us. People have no delay between getting upset about something and taking violent action.”

(Sneyd) Baker says there are other examples.

Earlier this week there was an incident in the Northeast Kingdom between the driver of a tractor trailer and two women.

Police say the women – a mother and her daughter – were in a car. As they slowed down in the village of Lunenberg to allow a car in front of them to turn, the truck passed them.

Both vehicles continued another 20 miles into St. Johnsbury, where the truck pulled into a parking lot.

Witnesses say the women stopped to scold the truck driver. The daughter got back in the car and drove off to call police while her mother tried to block the truck from leaving. But she was run over by the truck and later died. State police are trying to piece together just what transpired.

And in Windsor County, troopers are dealing with another incidence of violence.

Colonel Baker says there was a “home invasion” in Sharon. The homeowner hit the intruder and critically injured him.

(Baker) “The nature of this is unusual. I’ve been with the department going on 30 years now. I don’t remember a stretch where we’ve been stretched as thin as we are right now on death investigations. It goes beyond just the ones that are so-called high-profile cases right now.”

(Sneyd) Not all of the investigations involve crimes.

Baker says troopers are also investigating a fatal fire this week in Newfane. And in the past ten days, troopers have had to deal with the sudden deaths of two children, one just an infant and the other about a year-and-a-half old.

Crime is not suspected in those cases. But troopers are investigating because they’re termed “untimely deaths.”

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd.

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