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Vermont State Police name suspect and close investigation into 2023 Wheelock killing

A green car with a yellow stripe that says "state trooper."
Adam Silverman
Vermont State Police
Law enforcement officials announced that they’d identified a suspect in the fatal shooting of a man in Wheelock last October, but no charges will be filed because the suspect killed himself.

Vermont State Police have identified a suspect in the fatal shooting of a 27-year-old man in Wheelock in October 2023. But no charges will be filed because authorities say the suspect killed himself.

According to state police, Gary Larocque, 40, of Brownington, shot and killed Gunnar Watson as he stood in the doorway of his home in Wheelock around 5:50 a.m. on Oct. 16, 2023. The chief medical examiner determined that Watson died from a gunshot wound to the torso.

Police found several .223-caliber cartridge casings at Larocque’s house that matched to cartridge casings found at the crime scene. Detectives also used digital location data to place Larocque at the scene, state police said in a press release Tuesday.

Larocque died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound outside his home about two weeks after Watson’s death, police said. The Caledonia County state’s attorney’s office determined a charge of 1st-degree murder would have been filed if Larocque hadn’t killed himself.

Investigators did not identify any motive for the killing. State police said Larocque and Watson were co-workers at a tree cutting company and had known each other for several years. Watson was also a sergeant in the Vermont National Guard and was married with two young children, WCAX reported.

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

Watson’s death was part of an unusual spate of homicides in rural Vermont in October. 2023.

There have been two arrests in the cases from October; two men were charged in connection to the killing of Jeffrey Caron, 42, in Plainfield, and a 14-year-old was charged with murder after allegedly shooting 14-year-old Madden Gouveia. The teen’s case was eventually moved to family court, where it will play out behind closed doors.

Police are still actively investigating the other homicides, including the killing of Honoree Fleming. The former dean of Castleton University was shot to death while walking on a rail trail in Castleton.

“None of them are generally stalled out,” said Maj. Dan Trudeau, commander of the VSP criminal division on Wednesday. “Even the Castleton one — we're still fielding some tips here and there.”

More from Vermont Public: Vermont State Police release sketch of 'person of interest' in Castleton killing

Law enforcement officials have identified a person of interest in the double homicide of Jahim Solomon and Eric White, two 21-year-old Massachusetts men found dead in Eden. Federal prosecutors, in a motion filed earlier this year, said that Theodore Bland, 28, was a person of interest in that incident. Bland pleaded guilty to an unrelated federal gun charge in March, according to court records.

There have been few updates on the remaining two homicides from October, though earlier this year, the medical examiner’s office determined that 23-year-old Tanairy “Tanya” Velazquez Estrada was strangled to death, and her death in Washington was ruled a homicide. Previously, police were treating it as a suspicious death.

Police have not released any recent update on the death of Wilmer Rodriguez, a 27-year-old shot multiple times at a house in Newport town.

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