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Double homicide in Burlington appears to be drug-related, police say

A man in a suit stands behind a podium with a plaque that reads Burlington Police. A uniformed officer stands to one side, and behind the men are three flags: American, Vermont and Burlington.
Liam Elder-Connors
Vermont Public
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and police chief Jon Murad speak to reporters at a press conference on Monday. Burlington police responded to a double homicide and two other shooting incidents on Sunday night.

A double homicide in Vermont’s largest city on Sunday night appears to be drug-related, according to Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad.

Police got a call about gunfire at a home on Decatur Street just before 9:15 p.m. Sunday. When officers arrived, they found two men — Anthony Smith Jr., 26, and Khalif Jones, 27 — both of whom had been shot in the head.

There was evidence of drug trafficking at the house, Murad said during a press conference Monday.

Murad also told reporters that police believe Jones shot and killed Smith and then a third man shot Jones.

“A firearm was recovered with Mr. Jones,” Murad said. “We believe that was the firearm used to kill Mr. Smith. And the firearm that was used to kill Mr. Jones is not currently accounted for, although we have found ballistics evidence indicative of more than one firearm at the scene.”

More from Vermont Public: Vermont State Police say string of homicides in October appear to be isolated incidents

Police responded to two other shooting incidents Sunday night and early Monday morning: a report of shots fired around 101 Main Street, and a man who was shot in the foot.

The man who was shot in the foot has not been named, and police say that the incident might also be related to drugs. The man told police that he’d been shot in the foot after a group of people stole drugs from him.

Police don’t think there’s any connection between the double homicide and the person who was shot in the foot. But Murad said there might be a connection between the Decatur Street killings and the shooting near 101 Main Street.

“The proximity of those two acts both timewise, location-wise, and certain aspects of what we are looking at with regard to evidence, do suggest that there may be a connection,” Murad said on Monday.

Alleged arson case at police station

In another incident early Monday morning, Stephen Romprey, 62, allegedly lit a fire in the vestibule of the Burlington Police station. The department had to temporarily relocate its dispatchers due to the incident.

“The fire itself didn't cause a tremendous amount of damage,” Murad said. “It released the sprinkler system, which then inundated large portions of our building and floor, and it's going to be many thousands of dollars in remediation.”

Romprey, who police say is homeless, was arrested Monday and charged with second degree arson and reckless endangerment. During his arraignment late Monday afternoon in Chittenden County Superior Court, Romprey declined to be represented by a public defender and opted to represent himself.

“I don’t need an attorney, I didn’t do nothing wrong,” Romprey said during the hearing.

Romprey continued to talk over Judge Michael Harris, saying that he’d set the fire to test the sprinkler system, talking about the U.S Supreme Court and ignoring the judge’s request to stop talking.

“I’m Judge Harris, I’m trying to conduct a hearing,” Harris said.

“You’re a liar, you’re not a judge — you’re not even wearing a cape,” Romprey said.

Eventually, a court officer removed Romprey from the room.

After Romprey left, Judge Harris, Deputy State’s Attorney Alexandra Sturges, and public defender Sandra Lee discussed how to move forward.

“Based on my observation of the defendant, I do not feel comfortable completing an arraignment with him today,” Harris said. “He displayed an inability to track what I was talking … professing all kinds of things about the underlying incident, not understanding why he was here.”

The court ultimately decided to continue the arraignment on Tuesday, after Romprey was seen by a mental health screener. He’s currently being held in prison.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or reach out to reporter Liam Elder-Connors:


Liam is Vermont Public’s public safety reporter, focusing on law enforcement, courts and the prison system.
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