No danger: broken window leads to State Office Complex lockdown

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BENNINGTON — Reports of an active shooter led to police placing the State Office Complex under "lockdown" for about 45 minutes on Monday morning, however there turned out to be no danger.

Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette said a loose item in the back of a state employee's vehicle somehow broke the vehicle's window. The sound, two loud "pops," was similar enough to gunfire that the employee thought they had been shot at. He said a witness nearby also heard the noise and said it sounded like gunfire.

Doucette said officers first secured the scene, then investigated the noise. "Once we were able to determine it wasn't a shooting, we gave the all-clear," he said.

The state facility at 324 Main St., which houses Community College of Vermont, also went under lockdown as a precaution, though Bennington Police did not request that it do so.

Doucette said that the department was flooded with calls after news of the incident was spread around on local Facebook pages. He said a number of people were posting false and misleading information, including, "... a video of a police SWAT team preparing for an entry into a building." He said this behavior created an unnecessary level of panic.

Modern vehicles are fitted with safety glass, which does sound like a gunshot when it breaks, Doucette said. He also cited the August 2015 killing of Lara Sobel, a state social worker, as a reason for the employee to have been concerned.

Sobel was shot outside her workplace by a Barre woman upset over a child custody matter. The shooter pleaded guilty in July to killing Sobel as well as three family members.

Reach Keith Whitcomb Jr. at 802-447-7567 Ext. 115.


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