BENNINGTON -- A Pownal man is being held without bail after he was accused of pointing a muzzleloader at people during an argument early Monday morning in Pownal.

Ryan M. Cote, 28, of Lincoln Street in Pownal, pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and a misdemeanor charge or reckless endangerment. He will be held until a "weight of the evidence" hearing which will determine what conditions he can be released on, if any.

According to an affidavit by Vermont State Trooper Lauren Ronan, on Monday at 4:08 a.m. she and two other troopers were sent to Burdick Mobile Home Park where Anthony Otero said Cote had been knocking on his 9-year-old daughter’s window. Otero said Cote had a gun, that there had been an argument, and five shots had been fired.

Police could not find Cote right away, either in the mobile home of a friend, or his own, and so they spoke to witnesses.

Two women in Otero’s home said they had gone outside to confront Cote after he had argued with Otero. They said he had a rifle and pointed it at them, but no shots were fired. The boyfriend of one of the women then came out and punched Cote in the face. The man who did the punching said he did this to keep Cote from hurting himself or someone else, then he left.

The girlfriend said she used to date Cote and helped him inside after he was punched, but then was told to leave.


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Cote’s sister then came up to police and said he was asleep in his home.

According to Cote, he was only trying to protect his home. He said he woke up to people accusing him of knocking on windows when he had not been. He said he went outside with the muzzleloader while angry and upset.

Cote told police after he was arrested that he had a few drinks and was walking home down the railroad tracks past Alta Gardens Mobile Home Park at about 3 a.m. He said at no point did he stop to knock on any windows and went to his home to sleep. He admitted to pointing the gun in the direction of the two women, and that he brought it out to scare Otero. It was not loaded at the time, he said.

Ronan noted that a muzzleloader is not capable of firing five shots in rapid succession as Otero had described.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.