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Burlington Man Dead After Being Shot In Police Standoff

A 76-year-old Burlington man is dead after police shot him at the conclusion of an hours-long standoff in downtown Burlington Monday evening, according to Vermont State Police.

According to a release from Major Glenn Hall of the Vermont State Police Major Crimes Unit, the deceased is Ralph “Phil” Grenon. Police say Grenon, armed with “two large knives,” charged at officers inside his apartment before one officer shot him.

Hall said Burlington Police responded to Grenon’s apartment just after 5 p.m. at the request of a crisis worker. As officers were on the way, the building manager called the police to say that neighbors were reporting that Grenon was “displaying threatening behavior.”

Officers’ initial contact with Grenon wasn’t successful in resolving the situation, according to Hall:

“Upon arrival, Burlington Police Officers attempted to make contact with Mr. Grenon who refused to open the door to his apartment,” the release said. “When officers opened the door, Mr. Grenon was standing inside holding two knives, one in each hand.  Mr. Grenon ignored repeated commands from officers to drop the knives.  Officers deployed a Taser at Mr. Grenon which was not effective.  Mr. Grenon then shut the door and officers backed away.  Additional officers responded to assist.”

Hall said police tried unsuccessfully to communicate with Grenon “[o]ver the next few hours,” and officers even drilled a hole above the apartment door and inserted a camera to try to see him. That too was unsuccessful.

According to Hall, this is what happened next:

The decision was made to enter the apartment in order to check on his welfare.  Officers entered the apartment utilizing tactical shields and while announcing their presence.  Officers located Mr. Grenon hiding in the shower of his bathroom with the curtain drawn.  Mr. Grenon would not respond to verbal attempts to come out and speak with officers.  When officers pulled back the shower curtain slightly, Mr. Grenon was seen holding at least one knife in his hand. 

Officers backed away and continued verbal commands in an attempt to get Mr. Grenon to come out.  Officers then deployed “pepper balls” inside the bathroom, backed away and continued verbal commands with no success.  After a period of time, officers approached the bathroom again, opened the shower curtain at which time Mr. Grenon was seen holding two large knives, one in each hand. 

Mr. Grenon was seen making a thrusting motion with one of the knives towards the officers.  Officers deployed a Taser at Mr. Grenon while he was standing in the shower.  Despite the deployment of the Taser, Mr. Grenon then stepped out of the shower and advanced toward the officers through the doorway while still holding both knives.  As officers were backing away further into the adjoining bedroom, one of the officers discharged multiple rounds from his firearm, striking Mr. Grenon.

Officers “immediately removed the knives and began rendering medical assistance,” but ultimately Grenon was pronounced dead at UVM Medical Center at 10:02 p.m.

Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo released the following statement Tuesday morning:

The officer-involved shooting that occurred last night in our city will be investigated by the Vermont State Police and reviewed by two levels of government: the State’s Attorney and the State Attorney General.  We fully support this important exercise of democratic oversight of our use of deadly force. The VSP will be issuing a preliminary statement in the morning, and details will continue to emerge as the investigation continues. We expect the full disclosure of facts, identities and evidence as the process of law allows. Thank you for your patience.

Grenon’s death is the second incident in three months in which police entered a Burlington apartment and shot the resident, who later died. On December 22, 2016, a DEA agent and Vermont State Police shot and killed 56-year-old Kenneth Stephens in his Elmwood Avenue apartment.

In November 2013, Burlington officers shot and killed a man outside of his home in the New North End of the city.

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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