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Burlington Police Fatally Shoot Suspect

Burlington Police fatally shot a man on Randy Lane in Burlington’s New North End Wednesday afternoon.

Burlington police Chief Michael Schirling said officers were responding to a call from Ruthine "Dolly" Brunette, who said her son was acting irrationally and destroying property at their Randy Lane home.

“They were confronted by a man wielding a shovel, and the man was not listening to the demands and requests of the officers,” BPD spokesman Bruce Bovat said. Officer Ethan Thibault fired at the man multiple times. He died a short time later at Fletcher Allen Health Care, according to a Burlington Police release.

Bovat said the man – Wayne Brunette, 49, of Burlington – was otherwise unarmed and it wasn’t clear if anyone was in immediate danger when officers opened fire.

Bovat said Burlington police are launching an internal investigation and have also requested an external investigation by Vermont State Police.

State Police Major Glenn Hall said it wasn't immediately clear how many shots Thibault fired or how far Brunette was from the two responding officers when Thibault fired.

The release from Burlington Police said that “as a matter of practice, the two officers involved are on administrative leave for the foreseeable future.”

According to Bovat, two officers responded to the call, but only Thibault opened fire. He said the officer fired "approximately two to three [rounds], but that's not a definite."

The release said this is the first time Burlington Police have opened fire at someone since 1997.

Update 11/8/13 9:25 a.m. Burlington Police Deputy Chief Bruce Bovat explained what options the officers had available to them for subduing suspects: "Everybody has pepper spray, so they would have had pepper spray on their belt. As far as tasers, I believe one or both [of the responding officers] carry."

Update 11/7/13 4:07 p.m. Burlington Police Deputy Chief Bruce Bovat released a 2003 mugshot of Wayne Brunette (posted above). When asked via email if he could provide a photo of Officer Ethan Thibault, Bovat replied "No."

Update 11/7/13 3:58 p.m. The above text has been updated with current information.

Update 11/7/13 12:06 p.m. Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger has released a statement in response to the death of Wayne Brunette: "Our thoughts are with the family of Wayne Brunette, and we offer our deepest condolences.  Our thoughts also are with Burlington Police officers Corporal Ethan Thibault and Corporal Brent Navari, who were involved in yesterday’s extremely difficult situation. I appreciate the efforts of the BPD, Vermont State Police, the Chittenden County State's Attorney's Office, and all who are working hard on the ongoing investigation."

Update 11/7/13 11:41 a.m. According to Vermont State Police Major Glenn Hall, detectives have not spoken with either of the officers involved in last night's incident. Burlington Police Department Chief Michael Schirling says Cpl. Ethan Thibault fired on Wayne Brunette approximately two minutes after arriving on the scene. Thibault used his service weapon, a .40 caliber Glock handgun, according to a release from the Vermont Department of Public Safety.

Update 11/7/13 11:07 a.m. The Burlington Police Department has released the name of the victim and the officer who shot him. Cpl. Ethan Thibault, a 12-year veteran of the department, shot 49-year-old Wayne Brunette of Burlington. Cpl. Brent Navari also responded to the incident, and both officers were uninjured, according to the release. "Mr. Brunette has prior contacts with Burlington Police dating back many years but no contacts recently," the release states. 

The Vermont Department of Public Safety requests that anyone who may have information regarding this incident, including witnesses who may have video, contact Lt. Bob Cushing at the Vermont State Police at 802-748-3111.

Correction: A previous version of this update mistakenly stated that both officers were injured in the incident.

Taylor was VPR's digital reporter from 2013 until 2017. After growing up in Vermont, he graduated with at BA in Journalism from Northeastern University in 2013.
Angela Evancie serves as Vermont Public's Senior VP of Content, and was the Director of Engagement Journalism and the Executive Producer of Brave Little State, the station's people-powered journalism project.
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