Gunshots in Brattleboro result in no-bail detention for St. Johnsbury, Vt., man


BRATTLEBORO — A Vermont man told police he was "going to blow the town up" after threatening two victims with guns and allegedly shooting at their camper, according to court documents.

John E. Merrick, 50, of St. Johnsbury, pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, reckless endangerment, and firearm possession after conviction of a violent crime. He was held without bail after his arraignment in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division on Tuesday. He is facing up to five years in prison for each of the alleged felonies.

"Merrick told dispatch that there had been a murder at his house and that people were going to die," Brattleboro Police Officer Michael Cable wrote in an affidavit. "Merrick has a history of threatening to shoot law enforcement officers."

When Cable called Merrick, Cable was yelled at, according to the affidavit.

"Merrick was making comments to the effect of, 'I'm going to blow the town up,' 'I'm fortifying my position,' 'I'm loading up all of my guns,' 'I'm going to die with honor,' and, 'If you come up this hill, I'll shoot you first,'" Cable wrote. "Merrick also mentioned being unhappy with the way he was treated at the hospital and mentioned that they had sent him home to die. Merrick eventually hung up on me without allowing me to speak to him."

Merrick had access to a black powder pistol, rifle and semi-automatic rifle, according to police. He was upset due to a disagreement with a doctor, a witness said.

Merrick had a gangrene infection in his right foot, according to the witness. Merrick's left foot had previously been amputated.

Cable said he was told it would not be wise to go to the residence where Merrick was staying at as the witness believed Merrick might try to shoot at the police.

Police said two people living near the property claimed to be threatened by Merrick. The victims said Merrick pointed two guns at them and Merrick had shot the canopy of their camper while standing two feet away from them.

"(Victim) said that she thought the camper was set to explode because Merrick had caused it to make a beeping noise," the affidavit stated. "(Victim) said she thought she was going to get hit in the head with shrapnel as they were running away."

After interacting with an officer, Merrick had "calmed down and was going to leave to go to a hospital in New Hampshire," police said. The victims told police they were afraid for their lives.

A psychiatric examination of Merrick was ordered by the court to see whether he was mentally competent to stand trial. His previous convictions include an abuse-prevention order violation, grand larceny, a third driving under the influence charge, simple assault, petit larceny of $900 or less, careless or negligent vehicle operation, disorderly conduct and fireworks possession.

Call Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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