Two men were shot to death Sunday night and a third was seriously injured early Monday in two separate shootings, allegedly drug-related, in Burlington, Vermont's largest city, authorities said.
The shootings occurred on a busy night for police that first included a report of shots fired downtown and then an early morning arson attack in the police station lobby, the chief and mayor said at a news conference. on Monday.
At the same time, Vermont State Police are investigating a series of homicides in Vermont in recent months, many of which they suspect are drug-related.
“The fact that these shootings, the murder of two people and the serious injury of another appear not to be connected, but are both drug-related, is yet another indication that the nature of our drug crisis in Vermont has changed.” fundamentally and must become the main public security measure of the state. and public health priority,” said Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger.
In September, the Burlington City Council passed a resolution declaring the drug crisis its top public health and safety priority.
Burlington police received calls at 9:13 p.m. Sunday about shots fired at an apartment on Decatur Street. When they arrived they found two men shot in the head. One was dead and the other died at the hospital, police said. Police identified the victims as Anthony Smith, 26, of Vergennes, and Khalif Jones, 27, of Stowe. Police believe Jones shot Smith and later suspect he was shot by a third person, who has not been identified. Evidence of drug trafficking was found at the residence, Police Chief Jon Murad said.
Hours later, dispatchers received a call at 1:15 a.m. Monday from a man who said he had been shot in the foot while a group of people were robbing him of drugs. Police do not believe the shooting is related to Sunday night's double murder, Murad said.
Then, at 2 a.m., a man started a fire in the lobby of the Burlington Police Department building, police said. The 62-year-old suspect, who is believed to be homeless and has had many interactions with police, was arrested Monday morning, Murad said. Due to smoke, the dispatch center had to be temporarily moved to South Burlington.