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Police: Man fatally shot by police raised pellet gun at them

August 9, 2019
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Vermont State Police investigators stand at the scene of a fatal police shooting involving officers from the Montpelier Police Department on Friday Aug. 9, 2019 in Montpelier, Vt. Police said the shooting occurred at about 5:30 a.m. The man who was shot died at a local hospital. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring)
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Vermont State Police investigators stand at the scene of a fatal police shooting involving officers from the Montpelier Police Department on Friday Aug. 9, 2019 in Montpelier, Vt. Police said the shooting occurred at about 5:30 a.m. The man who was shot died at a local hospital. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring)

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A 62-year-old Montpelier man with a pellet gun was shot and killed by a police officer Friday by officers who were responding to a report of someone trying to get into an apartment with a knife, state police said.

Police identified the man who was shot at about 5:15 a.m. Friday as Mark Johnson, a resident of the Main Street apartment building where he had tried to get into a unit that wasn’t his.

Two responding Montpelier police officers located Johnson in front of the apartment on a Spring Street bridge where they saw what appeared to be a black pistol, state police Major Dan Trudeau said at a press briefing Friday near where the shooting occurred.

The officers tried for several minutes to de-escalate the situation, asking him to put the gun down and offering to get Johnson help. On two separate occasions Johnson climbed into the railing of the bridge, as if he were going to jump.

“Ultimately Mr. Johnson pointed the pistol at the Montpelier P.D. officers and one of them fired at him,” Trudeau said.

Johnson was taken to the Central Vermont Hospital in Berlin where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy determined that Johnson died of two gunshot wounds to the torso, Trudeau said.

He said it was 12 minutes between the time police were first called until the shots were fired, Trudeau said.

The officers were not wearing body cameras, but the incident was caught on a camera in a police cruiser, Trudeau said.

The names of the officers, who have been placed on administrative leave as is standard in officer-involved shooting cases, will be released on Saturday along with other details of the incident, Trudeau said.

The shooting of Johnson was the second fatal officer involved shooting in Montpelier in less than two years. In January 2018, bank robbery suspect Nathan Giffin, who was carrying what turned out to be an unloaded BB gun, was killed on the grounds of the Montpelier High School after eight state troopers and one Montpelier officer opened fire after he refused to drop the BB gun.

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This story has been corrected to show that Nathan Giffin was killed in January 2018, not December 2018.

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