Sunday January 2, 2011

BENNINGTON -- Police said a Bennington man was ordered held after he allegedly pointed a pistol at New Year's Eve revelers leaving a Main Street establishment shortly after midnight and later crashed his SUV on Beach Street, knocking out power to the area.

Lt. Lloyd Dean of the Bennington Police Department said in a release that people leaving TJ. Carmody's, about 12:19 a.m., on New Year's Day reported that a white male in his 40s driving a 1990s, dark-green Chevrolet Blazer had pointed a pistol at them before fleeing in the vehicle.

At 12:28 a.m., Dean said, Bennington County Deputy Sheriff Joel Howard was on Beech Street, near Branch Street, and facing north on Beech Street. As he was pulling away, Howard saw an SUV approaching him from the rear at a high rate of speed. The operator failed to negotiate the slight curve, police said, and the front of the SUV struck a utility pole, snapping it off at its base. The impact put the SUV in a clockwise spin across lawns, police said, before it went airborne for about 25 feet, sideways.

The sideways SUV landed and slid into a wooden fence and was brought to an abrupt stop by the guy wires of a second utility pole. Due to the stress on this pole, police said, it snapped into three pieces, dropping electric wires on the vehicle and all around the scene. The operator, later identified as Aaron S. Godin, 43, of Bennington, admitted that a gun was in the car. Police said he refused to comply with police commands to show his hands. Police carefully monitored Godin extricating himself from the vehicle where he was taken into custody.

To avoid being struck by the speeding and out of control SUV, Howard had accelerated his police cruiser, and he then approached the crashed vehicle. Godin received minor abrasions to his face and a hand, police said.

He was treated and released from the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. While at the emergency room Godin physically assaulted Howard, emergency room nurses and staff, police said. Godin will be charged with DUI, third offense, assault on an law enforcement officer, assault on an emergency room nurse, disorderly conduct, gross negligent operation and driving with excessive speed.

He is also being charged with aggravated assault and two counts of reckless endangerment relating to the incident on Main Street. A Smith and Wesson .40 caliber pistol, with a round chambered, was recovered at the scene, police said.

Godin was remanded to Marble Valley Correctional Center in lieu of $15,000 cash bail with an arraignment excepted on Monday, Jan. 3.

The Bennington Fire Department responded to the crash scene. Also summoned were Central Vermont Public Service and Comcast crews. Power was shut off on Beech Street at about 12:45 a.m. for an extended period. Beech Street was also temporarily closed to traffic.