BELLOWS FALLS — Bellows Falls police are conducting an investigation into possible criminal action during the off-duty firing of a handgun by a Windham County deputy sheriff.
The incident, which occurred on School Street near the Bellows Falls Middle School on Friday, is being investigated for possible criminal charges. The incident occurred at the deputy’s home.
No injuries were reported, but a neighbor said a bullet traveled into a neighboring house and pierced several walls, but it was not clear if anyone was home at the time of the incident.
Windham County State’s Attorney Tracy Kelley Shriver said Monday she has insisted to Mark Anderson, the Windham County sheriff, that the investigation examine possible criminal action.
“On Friday, I made very clear to Windham County Sheriff’s Office that I expected an investigation into possible criminal charges would be provided to my office,” Shriver said in a text message Monday.
Anderson, in his release on Saturday about the incident, said his department was conducting an internal investigation into the incident, and he apologized to the community for the incident.
The deputy, whose name has not been released, has been placed on leave, without pay, pending the outcome of the investigation.
“The community holds deputies to a high standard. They are trusted with immense responsibilities. The Vermont Police Academy and my department train our deputies in proper handling, maintenance, and care of their equipment,” Anderson said in his release about the incident. “I am thankful that no one was injured in this incident. I have directed my staff to conduct an internal investigation to identify what occurred, what safety principles and policies were not followed, and identify our next steps.”
There are several former Bellows Falls Police Department officers on the sheriff’s department roster, including former Sgt. Mario Checchi, who was on the scene “immediately” after the shooting, a neighbor told the Reformer.
Bellows Falls Police Chief David Bemis said Monday that his department is investigating the incident, but he declined to say much of anything about what happened.
“We are investigating and it will be reviewed by the state’s attorney’s office. The sheriff’s department is investigating as well,” Bemis said.
Shriver said the Vermont State Police were asked to conduct the investigation into the firing of the deputy’s weapon but declined.
Vermont State Police Lt. Anthony French on Saturday only said the state police were not involved.