Assault suspect in custody after 12-hour manhunt

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BELLOWS FALLS — A man wanted for attempted murder for assaulting a man in Westminster on March 2 and who assaulted another man on Friday afternoon on Hyde Street is now in custody.

According to Bellows Falls Police Chief Ron Lake, officers responded to Hyde Street at 1 p.m. The victim told police he was visiting the house to check up on it while the owner is out of town when he was assaulted and stabbed multiple times with a sharp object. The victim also told police that John-Victor Wetherby, 33, of Bellows Falls, struck him with what he believed was a baseball bat.

Through a photo lineup, the victim identified Wetherby as his assaulter.

With the help of the Vermont State Police, the Chester Police Department and the Walpole, N.H., Police Department, a search was started. At about 11 p.m., K-9 Caesar alerted on a track in the snow, which was followed nearly two miles to Cota Heights Road in the vicinity of Darby Hill Road in Rockingham, said Lake. It was there that Wetherby was taken into custody.

According to a press release from the Vermont State Police, Wetherby was believed to be armed at the time of his arrest. A trooper with the Vermont State Police fired his weapon at Wetherby, striking and injuring him. Wetherby was transported to Springfield Hospital where he was treated and then released into the custody of law enforcement. No state troopers or members of the Bellows Falls Police Department were harmed during the encounter.

The victim of the Hyde Street assault was transported to Springfield Hospital before being moved to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H.

Police believe Wetherby has been hiding out at the home on Hyde Street since at least March 2. On that day, the Windham County Sheriff's Office responded to a report of a burglary and an aggravated assault in Westminster. Upon arrival, they found a man with severe injuries who was transported to Brattleboro Memorial Hospital for treatment.

The Bellow Falls Police Department also received assistance from the Bellows Falls Fire Department and Golden Cross Ambulance.

"We would like to thank all the agencies for their help and cooperation," said BFPD Chief Ron Lake.

An investigation into the officer-involved shooting is in its earliest stages by the Vermont State Police Major Crime Unit and Bureau of Criminal Investigations. Per policy, the trooper involved has been placed on paid administrative leave for a minimum of five days, and then the trooper will return to work on administrative duty status. The trooper's name is being withheld at this time, as is standard practice. The State Police investigation will be independently reviewed by the Vermont Attorney General's Office and the Windham County State's Attorney's Office to determine whether the use of force was appropriate.

Bob Audette can be contacted at 803-254-2311, ext. 151, or raudette@reformer.com.


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