Plea filed in New Haven standoff
NEW HAVEN — A New Haven man on Monday pleaded innocent in Addison Country Superior Court (criminal division) to a felony charge of aggravated domestic assault with a weapon, stemming from his March 29 standoff with Vermont State Police that closed down Route 7 for more than seven hours.
Thomas Jerome, 51, was released following his arraignment on conditions that he not have any contact with his wife, with whom he had been arguing the night he allegedly sequestered himself in his Route 7 home, under the influence of alcohol, with a shotgun.
The VSP and its Hostage Negotiation and Tactical Teams, with assistance from Vergennes, Middlebury and Bristol police officers, mobilized around the Jeromes’ home soon after they were called to the scene at around 5:20 p.m. last Thursday. The New Haven Fire Department closed down traffic on Route 7 between Route 17 and Town Hill Road in New Haven.
An affidavit prepared by VSP Trooper C.J. Campbell said that a drunken Jerome had been upset about a pending divorce with his wife, Tracey. She told authorities that her husband had been throwing items around their home and warned her if she called police he would “shoot their windows out.”
After calling 911, Tracey Jerome told authorities, her husband went into an office area of the home and allegedly re-emerged with “a shotgun in one hand and shells in the other hand” and reiterated a threat that he would shoot out the VSP vehicles’ windows, according to court records.
At that point, according to the affidavit, Tracey Jerome allegedly hid herself in a bathroom in the event her husband started shooting through the bedroom door.
Tracey Jerome was eventually able to sneak out of the home while her husband was engaged in a conversation with his nephew, who was also inside the residence at the time, according to court records.
“Tracey advised that while she had great concerns about Jerome’s mental health and safety, she had also been afraid for her own safety as he had threatened her with a gun in the past,” the affidavit states. “Tracey further advised that she had been scared because Jerome had been drinking and she didn’t know what he was capable of when he was that angry.”
Police said they negotiated with Jerome in an effort to surrender peacefully. Police alleged that Jerome, on several occasions, said “he had several rifles, would protect his property and take any action by (police) as a direct threat.”
Jerome left his house at 12:39 a.m. Friday, got into his vehicle and drove to the end of his blocked driveway, according to court records. At that point, police said that VSP’s Tactical team took him into protective custody.
Jerome admitted to police he had been arguing with his wife and drinking, but denied throwing items around the house and denied ever threatening his wife.
Police measured his blood-alcohol content at 0.085 percent. As a point of reference, the legal limit for driving is 0.08 percent.
Jerome was initially held on $25,000 bail. Judge Cortland T. Corsones granted a warrant for an immediate mental health examination, whereupon Jerome was taken to Fletcher Allen Health Care for evaluation, according to court records. He was evaluated and released at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, March 30, according to police.
A status conference on the case is tentatively set to be held at the Addison County Courthouse on May 7 at 9 a.m.
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