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DCF Employee Fatally Shot In Barre

Barre city, seen here, is one of six cities and towns the ACLU has asked to repeal anti-panhandling ordinances.
Steve Zind
VPR File
Officials say Department for Children and Families employee Lara Sobel was shot and killed outside this Barre office building Friday afternoon.

An employee of the Department for Children and Families (DCF) was fatally shot outside a state office building in Barre on Friday, Gov. Peter Shumlin's office announced.The Associated Press reports that the suspect in the shooting a mother who was upset about losing custody of her child. Barre police confirmed Friday night that they arrested the suspect, 40-year-old Jody Herring of Barre Town. Vermont State Police released a mugshot of Herring Saturday evening and confirmed that police recommended a charge of first-degree murder.

Authorities confirmed Friday night that the victim was 48-year-old DCF employee Lara Sobel. The state's online employee directory says Sobel was based in Barre.

Vermont State Police released this photo of Jody Herring, taken after her arrest. Police have recommended a charge of first-degree murder.

In a statement, Shumlin said there is no indication of a continuing threat, but the state is taking extra precautions for now.

"While there is no indication of a broader threat, the Agency of Administration will review security procedures in state buildings in light of this tragic event and provide any additional measures immediately," the release said. "Additionally, until we know more about this incident, DCF staff  have been directed to only go out on emergency calls this weekend accompanied by law enforcement."

Agency of Human Services Secretary Hal Cohen says Sobel had worked for DCF for approximately 15 years.

Cohen says its not yet been determined when DCF employees will resume making normal calls. 

He say the first priority is the safety and welfare of the department's staff.

"We are working very closely in Barre with Washington County Mental Health Services. They will be at the Barre office at 8:15 Monday morning," Cohen says. Counseling services will also be being provided to personnel at other DCF offices.

Cohen, who has been AHS Secretary for just seven months, spent nearly 20 years working in social services in Central Vermont.

"This is hitting me very hard," he says. "Lara is someone in my local community, she's a member of my synagogue, we know her family and her children. To a person, everyone who talks about Lara talks about a lovely human being who really cared."

The Vermont State Employees Association, the union that represents state workers, announced Saturday that there will be a vigil for Sobel in Barre on Sunday. The union invites the public to congregate at 46 Granite Street in Barre at 4 p.m. for a march to Barre Place at 5 p.m.

This post was updated at 8:27 pm 8/8/15.

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.
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