A Significant DelayThe Montpelier Police Department (MPD) reported a “significant delay” between the shooting and when the police department was notified. First Student, the company that provides busing to U-32, “removed the students, changed buses, and returned to their headquarters prior to law enforcement arrival,” police said. “The safety of our employees and the students we transport is a responsibility we take very seriously. We are thankful no one was hurt in the incident,” said Jen Biddinger, First Student communications manager, in an email to The Bridge. “The First Student staff/bus driver made student safety their immediate priority before, during, and after the incident,” stated the Oct. 30 release from the MPD. Up until the July flood, people had been camping on the property, which is next to the Winooski River off Route 2 near Agway and where the city-run FEAST Farm had been located, although the city does not own the property. After the flood, FEAST Farm was relocated to the city’s Country Club Road property, but the encampment returned, and apparently grew.
Incidents Were EscalatingIn the days and weeks leading up to the shooting, reports of incidents coming from the encampment had been “escalating” according to David Ide, owner of Montpelier Agway, next door to the site. It didn’t register as an issue to the farm-and-garden business until this week, when “they started to yell at us that ‘we hear you’ and ‘shut up’ and things like that,” Ide said. “They cross our parking lot all the time” and have started using the Agway nursery water supply to wash clothes, he said. But Ide said it wasn’t until recently — when he noticed “they’re starting to build things there, and they’re entering the old house and … breaking windows” — that he started contacting the city of Montpelier to voice his concerns. After several phone calls, he said, he was able to reach city manager Fraser on Friday. According to the release, the Montpelier assessor shows the owner of the property as Food Works, a Vermont nonprofit organization, and added “the owner of the property has not requested the removal of the encampment since it has been established.” The last post on Food Works’ Facebook page is dated Sept. 22, 2013, and its website link no longer works. “The city did not approve camping on the site because it is not owned by the city,” Fraser wrote in an email to The Bridge. “Our policy calls for tolerance unless people are being disruptive.” Police also said they are working with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives on the investigation as well as with U-32 staff members, the Vermont State Police, the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Berlin Police Department to further the investigation. Police ask that anyone with additional information contact the MPD at 802-223-3445.
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