Police: Robbery suspect killed by officers on Vermont high school grounds

Police surround a man felled by shots while walking with a gun on the grounds of Montpelier High School, Tuesday Jan. 18, 2018, in Montpelier, Vt. Police said the man, who tried to rob the Vermont State Employees Credit Union across the street from the school, was shot and killed by police on the school grounds. (WCAX-TV via AP)
Police surround a man felled by shots while walking with a gun on the grounds of Montpelier High School, Tuesday in Montpelier, Vermont. –WCAX-TV via AP

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A suspect who had just tried to rob a credit union across the street from the high school in Vermont’s capital city was shot and killed Tuesday by police officers on the school grounds, city and state police said.

In video of the shooting posted by local television station WCAX, the suspect can be seen standing at the edge of the athletic fields several hundred yards away from the school building before he falls to the ground. Multiple shots can be heard.

Before he was shot, the suspect can be seen holding a handgun in his right hand, but it was pointed at the ground. After the shooting the suspect can be seen moving on the ground as police and rescue personnel tend to him.

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Montpelier Police Chief Anthony Facos said later at a City Hall news conference attended by the commander of the Vermont State Police and the city school superintendent that the suspect was deceased.

No officers were injured.

“We are treating this as an officer-involved shooting,” said Vermont State Police Col. Matthew Birmingham.

In a statement Tuesday night, state police said officers shot the suspect, identified as 32-year-old Nathan Giffin, of Essex, after he refused orders to drop his handgun and made threatening statements toward law enforcement including suicidal statements.

“Preliminary investigation indicates that a total of nine officers discharged their firearms during this incident, eight of whom were Vermont State Troopers and one Montpelier Police officer,” the statement said.

The shooting was being investigated by the state police major crimes unit to determine if it was justified.

Credit Union spokeswoman Rachel Feldman told the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus it was the first robbery in the history of the institution. The suspect fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Cash was left on the floor of the credit union, which was closed pending the police investigation.

At least four bullet casings were seen behind a snowbank about 250 feet (76 meters) from where the suspect was shot.

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Montpelier High School and the nearby state Department of Labor were placed on lockdown following the incident, which was reported just after 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Superintendent Brian Ricca said the high school was locked down at around 9:45 a.m. The students were moved into the auditorium. Other city schools were not affected.

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