Shots fired in Weybridge pepper spray case
WEYBRIDGE — Two men pleaded innocent on July 7 to charges related to an alleged pepper spraying incident in Weybridge during which one of the victims allegedly fired a gun at the suspects’ vehicle, according to a Vermont State Police investigation that remains ongoing.
Released on conditions after their arraignment in Addison Superior Court, criminal division, were Travis J. Simpson, 22, of Vergennes and 25-year-old Hieu V. Tran of Burlington. Both had been lodged on $25,000 bail — Simpson on a charge of felony aggravated assault, and Tran on charges of violating his conditions of release and driving with a suspended license.
Authorities dropped an additional charge of aiding in the commission of a felony that had initially been filed against Tran in connection with the incident, according to court records.
Vermont State Police Trooper Adria Pickin, in a court affidavit detailing her investigation of the case, said she was called to 1663 Weybridge Road at around 10 p.m. last Thursday, July 6, on a call from 23-year-old Nicholas Bruch that “two black males had attempted to rob him and his friend, (22-year-old) Joshua Cody. Bruch further alleged that the two men had pepper-sprayed them “while trying to rob them,” according to Pickin’s affidavit.
By the time state police arrived, Middlebury police Officers Nate Hayes and Kevin Emilio had already located and detained Simpson and Tran, according to court records. Those Middlebury officers had responded after the initial 911 call suggested the alleged crime location might be in Middlebury, rather than Weybridge.
Bruch and Cody told police they had pulled into a Bruch family member’s driveway on Weybridge Road when they spotted another vehicle — a 2002 Subaru Outback — come down the driveway. Both Cody and Bruch said they approached the vehicle to see who was inside, according to court records.
“Bruch and Cody advised they approached the driver’s side window and whoever was driving mumbled something,” Pickin’s affidavit reads. “Bruch could see a male passenger with a pit bull on his lap.”
Cody and Bruch told the two men in the car that they needed to leave, and then walked back to Bruch’s vehicle, according to court records.
“In the process of getting into (Bruch’s) vehicle, Bruch and Cody advised they heard the doors to the other vehicle open,” the affidavit reads. “Bruch and Cody advised that when they turned around, they were sprayed with pepper spray.”
At this point, according to court records, Cody is alleged to have reached into Bruch’s vehicle “and located a handgun he knew was kept in the center console,” the affidavit reads. “After retrieving the firearm, Cody advised he shot in the area of the other vehicle four times.”
State police, in a July 7 press release, confirmed none of the four rounds hit either Simpson or Tran. Police have not yet disclosed whether any of the rounds struck the vehicle.
Addison County State’s Attorney Dennis Wygmans confirmed on Monday that Cody’s alleged use of a firearm is part of the ongoing investigation into the incident.
Once Cody fired the four shots, Bruch “pulled Cody into the vehicle and they left the scene,” driving to a different family member’s home in Weybridge, according to court documents.
“Both Cody and Bruch stated that during the incident, they were in fear of their lives,” Pickin’s affidavit states.
According to the affidavit, Simpson explained the gunshots in Tran’s car this way: He told police he and Tran had been travelling from Vergennes to Middlebury to eat at the McDonald’s, stopped “to use the restroom” along the side of the road, and “while using the restroom, Simpson said he heard multiple gunshots and ran away.”
Vermont State Police Lt. Jeffrey Danoski declined to comment on the case, citing the ongoing investigation.
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