Off Message | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Bail Set for Would-Be Fair Haven School Shooter Jack Sawyer

Posted By on Tue, Apr 17, 2018 at 6:30 PM

Jack Sawyer with defense attorney Kelly Green in court - POOL PHOTO: GLENN RUSSELL / BURLINGTON FREE PRESS
  • Pool Photo: Glenn Russell / Burlington Free Press
  • Jack Sawyer with defense attorney Kelly Green in court
A Rutland Superior Court judge set bail Tuesday at $100,000 for the teenager who allegedly planned a massacre at Fair Haven Union High School.

Jack Sawyer, 18, who previously had been held without bail, could soon be heading to an inpatient mental health program. Sawyer's attorney, Kelly Green, said arrangements have been made for him to be admitted to the Brattleboro Retreat as soon as Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear if Sawyer would be released from jail. In an interview, Green said the Sawyer family would not post bail Tuesday but was "pursuing it."

Judge Thomas Zonay ordered that if Sawyer does post bail, he must be on 24/7 curfew at his father's home in Poultney. The judge also said he is open to having Sawyer go to the Brattleboro Retreat.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , ,

First Night Burlington Shuts Down After 35 New Year's Eve Festivals

Posted By on Tue, Apr 17, 2018 at 6:28 PM

Drum Corps parading on Church Street during First Night Burlington - COURTESY OF STEVE MEASE
  • Courtesy of Steve Mease
  • Drum Corps parading on Church Street during First Night Burlington
After 35 years, Burlington's annual New Year's Eve festival will not return next year. The First Night Burlington board of directors announced Tuesday that the event would be discontinued because of low attendance and the loss of a key sponsor.

The frigid temperatures during the most recent festival kept people at home, leading to a "substantial loss" for the organization, board chair Dave Mount explained in a press release. "Our reserves have been fully tapped," he wrote.

The board will pay off any outstanding debts from the 2018 event before disbanding First Night Burlington, Inc., at the end of April, according to the release.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , ,

Vermont Lawmakers Consider Redefining What's an 'Attempt' to Commit a Crime

Posted By on Tue, Apr 17, 2018 at 5:07 PM

Sen. Dick Sears (D-Bennington) - FILE
  • File
  • Sen. Dick Sears (D-Bennington)
Vermont lawmakers are considering lowering the bar for what constitutes an attempted crime in response to the alleged Fair Haven school shooting plot. But they're also wary about overreacting, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont has flagged what it considers “significant constitutional problems" with the current proposal.

The Vermont Supreme Court ruled last Wednesday that there was insufficient evidence to hold the accused teenager, Jack Sawyer, without bail. Sawyer purchased a shotgun, wrote in a journal and texted a friend about his plan to carry out a mass shooting at Fair Haven Union High School. But the justices concluded that those actions didn’t qualify as an attempt to commit murder.

Two days after the ruling, Gov. Phil Scott called on legislators to change state law. “I believe that anyone who takes so many specific steps to prepare to commit a horrific crime, and then confesses he is working to carry it out, needs to be held fully accountable,” he said in a press release.

The Fair Haven case prompted Scott and the legislature to pass an unprecedented package of gun legislation earlier this month.

On Tuesday, House and Senate committees began discussing substantial changes to a definition of "attempt" that’s prevailed for 112 years. Under current law, the perpetrator needs to make an "overt act" to be convicted of an attempted crime.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , ,

Scott Vetoes Toxic Chemicals Bill, Flummoxing Senate Leaders

Posted By on Tue, Apr 17, 2018 at 2:42 PM

Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe (D-Chittenden) - TAYLOR DOBBS
  • Taylor Dobbs
  • Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe (D-Chittenden)
Vermont Senate leaders expressed surprise and disappointment Tuesday morning after Gov. Phil Scott vetoed a bill designed to protect children from toxic chemicals in consumer products. Scott’s veto was the first of the 2018 legislative session.

The legislation, S.103, would have given the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health expanded power to enter products into a state-run database if they contain toxins that may harm children. It also would have made that database publicly searchable by products’ bar codes.

In a statement announcing his decision Monday, Scott said he opposes the bill because it wouldn’t improve Vermont’s already high consumer safety laws, which were last updated in 2014, as well as put a harmful burden on businesses and manufacturers.

“These [proposed] changes, in my opinion, have no practical impact to how my Administration regulates these chemicals,” he said.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Police Cleared in Fatal Shooting at Montpelier High School

Posted By on Tue, Apr 17, 2018 at 1:55 PM

Attorney General T.J. Donovan - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Attorney General T.J. Donovan
No charges will be filed against nine police officers who fatally shot an armed bank robbery suspect on the Montpelier High School athletic field in January, authorities announced Tuesday.

An hour and a half after Nate Giffin, 32, robbed a nearby bank, police shot him, firing 21 to 23 rounds. Authorities said Giffin repeatedly raised his gun, even after being wounded. It turned out to be a BB pistol.

Giffin, a Burlington resident, repeatedly threatened police and made suicidal statements, Attorney General T.J. Donovan said. Giffin pointed his weapon at officers who had scrambled to the school, which was in session. Students were put on lockdown.

"I'm not going back to jail, so something is going to happen," Giffin told officers during the hour-long standoff. He made other statements, such as "Are you guys ready? We're going to rock and roll," and "Tell my dad I'm sorry," according to authorities.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Montpeculiar: Retiring Rep Hawks Neckties at the Statehouse

Posted By on Tue, Apr 17, 2018 at 12:22 PM

Rep. Dave Sharpe's Statehouse tie sale - TAYLOR DOBBS
  • Taylor Dobbs
  • Rep. Dave Sharpe's Statehouse tie sale
The Vermont Statehouse doesn't have a formal gift shop, but visitors this week have a chance to pony up for a unique souvenir: one of the many ties of Rep. Dave Sharpe (D-Bristol).

The former auto mechanic and voc-ed instructor, who announced his retirement in March, said he's spent his entire adult life collecting neckties, but he won't need them anymore once he finishes his work at the Statehouse this spring.

As a student at Michigan's Kalamazoo College in the mid-1960s, Sharpe said he started buying up funky ties as an act of rebellion. The cafeteria staff was instructed not to feed students on Sundays unless they wore a coat and tie to dinner.

“So my attitude at the time was: You want a coat and tie? I’ll show you a coat and tie. So I had some crazy coats, which have gone by the wayside, but it started a tie collection," Sharpe recalled Tuesday morning during a brief break from hawking his wares. "So there’s somewhere between 100 and 200 ties that I’ve collected over time — some of them pretty crazy, some of them pretty conservative."

More than 100 of them are now on sale, at a makeshift stand just outside the Statehouse cafeteria, for the competitive price of $8 apiece. Proceeds will go to the Friends of the Vermont Statehouse, a nonprofit devoted to historic education and preservation of the building.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Recent Comments

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2018 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Website powered by Foundation