Police: Vergennes man lured to Ripton, beaten and shot at
RIPTON — Police say two men lured a third man to a Ripton home on Saturday morning and beat him with a tire iron and a large wrench before the victim fled into the woods, where he allegedly was shot at.
Peter Manning, 41, of Ripton and Michael Lafountain, 38, of Weybridge, were each charged with one count of aggravated assault with a weapon, and each pleaded innocent — Manning at his arraignment on Tuesday and Lafountain at a Wednesday arraignment.
Both men have previous convictions for felonies and face a maximum of life in prison if they are found guilty.
Affidavits filed by Vermont State Police Det. Sgt. Todd Wilkins lay out a story of how 39-year-old Sean Tremblay of Vergennes got a call from Manning at 6 a.m. this past Saturday asking if he wanted to go to breakfast and discuss the purchase of a car Manning had for sale. Tremblay, who has known Manning for 20 years and at one point worked with him, agreed and went to Manning’s home on Lincoln Road in Ripton to pick him up.
Tremblay told police that when he approached Manning in his garage, Manning turned and sprayed him in the face with mace. Tremblay blocked some of the spray from getting into his eyes only to find Manning swinging a tire iron at his head, according to Wilkins’ affidavits. Tremblay blocked the blow with his left forearm and Manning allegedly said, “Give this to your (relative),” as the tire iron struck Tremblay’s arm.
Tremblay explained to Wilkins that Manning believed that while he was in prison not long ago, Tremblay’s relative had broken into Manning’s house and stole a safe that contained “several ounces of cocaine, which meant Manning was out a lot of money,” the affidavits state.
“Tremblay believed this is why Manning lured him to his house — to get revenge for what his (relative) did,” Wilkins states in the affidavits.
The relative is reportedly in prison in another part of the state.
After the initial encounter, Lafountain came out of the garage and kicked Tremblay in the stomach/chest area, Tremblay told police in a sworn statement. Lafountain wielded a large wrench that apparently had a sharp point that at some stage of the attack punctured Tremblay’s thumb, severing a tendon.
Tremblay said he kept retreating down the driveway amidst the blows; he feared he would be beat to death if he fell.
After Tremblay ran into the woods, he told Wilkins, he saw Manning and Lafountain run back toward Manning’s house, and within a few minutes heard gunshots and bullets whizzing past his head. None of the bullets struck him. Tremblay ran through the woods and found a man in a home, who took him to the Bristol Police Department (no one was there) and then to the New Haven state police barracks.
Tremblay was transported to Porter Hospital, where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries (Wilkins reports that Tremblay declined stitches for a wound on his arm) and released later that day.
Tremblay left his car, a green Suzuki Aerio, with his two cell phones in it at Manning’s, according to the affidavits.
According to Wilkins, Manning’s wife, Naomi, had called police at just before 6 a.m. that morning and reported that Manning was headed to Vergennes to assault Tremblay. Wilkins further states that Naomi Manning called back at 10:22 a.m. and told a trooper that Tremblay’s car had been moved, and Peter Manning had “smashed it.”
Police went to Manning’s house at least twice looking for him, but did not find him; nor could they locate Lafountain over the weekend.
Police obtained arrest warrants and captured Manning on Monday evening in Middlebury. He was jailed at Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility with bail set at $100,000.
Lafountain turned himself in to Middlebury police on Tuesday evening and was lodged at the Rutland prison with the same bail.
Both Manning and Lafountain are scheduled to appear in Addison Superior Court, criminal division, on Oct. 24 for a status conference.
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