Occupier shoots himself
Published: Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Updated: Friday, November 18, 2011 12:11
A man was fatally shot inside a tent in City Hall Park on Nov. 10, prompting a police investigation that resulted in the removal of Occupy Burlington tents.
Joshua Pfenning, 35, was later identified as the victim, according to the Burlington Free Press.
Pfenning was pronounced dead at around 5 p.m. after being transported to the Fletcher Allen Hospital shortly after 2 p.m. The gunshot wound was believed to be self-inflicted, the article stated.
Deputy Police Chief Andi Higbee said that Pfenning had been consuming alcohol prior to the shooting and had been with three other people in the tent.
"He pointed the gun directly at one of the three people in the tent and made comments," Higbee said to the Burlington Free Press.
John Ciori, who had met Pfenning the week before and had been inside the tent with him, said that they had been fooling around with Pfenning's gun, taking it apart and putting it back together.
"It was all fun and games, and then [suddenly] it wasn't fun and games anymore," said Ciori, who said that Pfenning shot himself in the head.
After the shooting, police retrieved the gun, which was later confirmed as having been stolen from a home in Derby in 2009, the Burlington Free Press article stated.
Police Chief Michael Schirling sectioned off the park with crime scene tape and announced that the occupation was a risk to public safety and could not continue, Vermont Public Radio reported.
"We're happy to allow [City Hall Park occupants] to do activities in the park from 6 a.m. to midnight to get the message out," he said. "Right now, the biggest impediment to safety is the presence of tents."
Later that night, confrontation broke out between protestors and police when Hayley Mason, 23, was handcuffed after she got too close to the police tape, the Burlington Free Press stated.
A vigil mourning Pfenning was held the next day, where dozens of Occupy Burlington participants attended to reflect on the emotional turn of events.
The Occupy Burlington group met on Nov. 12 to discuss the future of the movement, and as of Nov. 14 the encampment in City Hall Park had officially ended, thanks to an agreement made with protestors and police.
In a letter to the Occupy Burlington General Assembly, Schirling expressed gratitude for the assembly's compliance with the city, the article stated.
"We very much appreciate the amicable way in which the issue of encampment seems to have been resolved," he said.