Salisbury man dies at VSP call
SALISBURY — Vermont State Police reported that a Salisbury man apparently shot and killed himself early last Thursday morning after troopers responded to a 911 call from his home off Lake Dunmore Road for a domestic dispute, and the man pointed a gun at them.
Gerald “Dusty” Woodburn, 52, died in the incident; no one else was injured.
According to state police, at 12:08 a.m. on Nov. 17 the VSP dispatch center received a 911 call from a woman who resides on Lake Dunmore Road in Salisbury. The caller, whom police did not identify, said that Woodburn, her live-in boyfriend, had taken her cell phone, had a firearm, and had left the residence.
Troopers from the New Haven barracks were notified and responded to the caller’s residence. While the troopers were en route, Woodburn returned home and entered the residence, where the woman was home with her two brothers, according to a VSP press release.
Trooper Second Class Lewis Hatch, age 23, and Trooper Second Class Kaitlyn Armstrong, age 24, were the first troopers on the scene. Both are stationed at the New Haven barracks, and both were placed on paid leave, per VSP policy, during the investigation of the incident. At the early morning incident, Trooper Hatch fired a shot at Woodburn after Woodburn allegedly leveled a firearm at police officers.
State police said late Friday that it had not yet been determined if the round fired from Hatch’s gun hit Woodburn. Also on Friday evening VSP said the state medical examiner had not yet completed an autopsy of Woodburn and it was pending further investigation.
Upon their arrival, the Troopers Hatch and Armstrong met the two brothers outside the residence; they told police the woman and Woodburn were inside having an argument.
State police said the troopers met the woman at the front door and were allowed inside the residence. Once inside the troopers attempted to separate the woman and Woodburn in order to obtain statements from them as to the nature of the domestic disturbance. When the troopers attempted to interview the woman and Woodburn, the woman told the troopers that Woodburn had a gun.
Woodburn then allegedly raised the gun, pointing it at the troopers. At that point, Trooper Hatch fired a single round at Woodburn, according to police. The troopers said they then lost sight of Woodburn as he retreated further into the residence. As the troopers moved to a position of cover and called for further assistance, they reported hearing another shot from inside the residence.
Troopers from the Rutland barracks, as well as officers from the Middlebury and Brandon police departments, responded to assist. The VSP Tactical Services Unit and Hostage Negotiation Unit were also activated and responded to the residence. Everyone was evacuated from the building, including the woman who had summoned police, and a perimeter was established around the residence.
Attempts to contact Woodburn inside the residence were unsuccessful, whereupon the state’s Tactical Services Unit entered the residence and discovered Woodburn dead inside from what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. VSP Director Col. Thomas L’Esperance, during a phone interview with the Addison Independent, confirmed no one else was injured during the incident.
Holly Hathaway is co-owner of the three-unit apartment structure at which the incident took place. She said she received a call from a state police dispatcher at around 1:40 a.m. informing her of the domestic dispute. She said the tenants in the other two units were evacuated by around 2:30 a.m., and were ultimately permitted to return home by around 4:30 p.m. that afternoon.
Hathaway was clearly shaken by the incident and voiced concerns for all those involved. She added that she had known Woodburn for many years.
“Dusty was always known to have been very calm, friendly and a non-confrontational person, and well-liked by the friends he had here in Salisbury,” Hathaway said.
“My biggest concern throughout the situation was the safety of our tenants and the nearby residents.”
Hathaway praised authorities for their handling of the case.
“I think it will take a little bit of time for people to move forward,” she said of the impact of the incident on those involved.
VSP Lt. Gary Genova, commander of the New Haven barracks, was pleased with how the many area police forces and emergency response organizations worked together as a team at the scene.
“It was a tragic ending, but I was pleased to see how things were coordinated,” Genova said.
Both Troopers Hatch and Armstrong were hired last Jan. 17, were graduates of the 91st Vermont State Police Class, and were stationed at the New Haven barracks on July 12.
VSP Public Information Officer Stephanie Dasaro said that once the investigation is completed the case will be reviewed by the Vermont Attorney General’s Office, as is customary in an officer-related shooting.
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