MIDDLEBURY (AP) -- It was unclear Friday if a Middlebury man who said he wanted to commit "suicide by cop" was killed by a police bullet or if he shot himself during an exchange of gunfire behind his home in a rural part of the community, town police said Friday.
The man who died Thursday afternoon was identified by police as George Demarais, 57, who lived on Vermont Route 116 about four miles northeast of downtown Middlebury, at the base of the Green Mountains.
At mid-day Thursday police received a 911 call from Demarais who said he "wanted to die via suicide by cop" and that he would be in the woods 150 yards behind his home, police said.
At first police formed a perimeter behind the home, but they were unable to locate Demarais. Late in the afternoon he came out of his home carrying a long gun and approached the road.
Sgt. Jason Covey told Demarais to drop the gun, but Demarais walked into the woods carrying the weapon.
Officers late found a note on Demarais’s car that said, "Come and get me, I hope you can shoot straight because I can."
Police then found Demarais on a steep slope behind the home when he began firing at police.
There was an exchange of gunfire, during which Covey made further efforts to convince Demarais to surrender.
Police did not say how many police officers fired their weapons during the exchange or how many rounds were fired by police and Demarais.
During the shooting Demarais suffered what police describe as a fatal wound. It is not known if Demarais died of a self-inflicted wound or if he was shot by police.
The case is being investigated by the state police and the office of the Addison County state’s attorney.