Hartford Police ID Tuckerbox Shooting Suspect, Still Awaiting Ballistics Evidence

artford police say they have identified the person responsible for the shooting that injured a man outside the Tuckerbox cafe on South Main Street last spring, but cannot make an arrest until they receive additional evidence from the Vermont crime lab.

After a months long investigation, during which police sometimes had multiple suspects, detectives are confident they have identified the shooter and understand the circumstances surrounding the incident, in which Lucas Dennis-Devries, who had recently moved to White River Junction, was shot in the buttocks while walking downtown, Capt. Brad Vail said.

“We’re confident with the fact that we believe we know who did it, and feel it was a random, isolated incident,” Vail said in a recent interview. “The detectives believe they know who did it, they just have to prove it.”

Crucial to the effort to “prove it,” are results of ballistics tests on a gun that police believe was used in the incident, Vail said: Seven months after the incident, police are still awaiting those results from the Vermont Forensics Laboratory.

Vail said that, since the case does not involve a homicide or grievous injury, the lab does not treat it as a priority.

“It’s the way the lab is,” Vail said. “It’s a long time waiting on a lot of this, and other cases take precedence. It’s very frustrating.”

Lab director Margaret Schwartz did not respond to messages seeking comment this week.

Dennis-DeVries, a Strafford native, said that as he was walking from his job at Tip Top Cafe toward Tuckerbox around 9:45 p.m. on April 25, he nodded at a man standing at the corner of Currier and North Main streets. The man, whom Dennis-DeVries said he did not know, was standing with a small German shepherd.

As he continued to walk, Dennis-DeVries said he felt a sharp pain and realized he had been shot in the buttock. He was taken to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and released two days later with a relatively minor injury.

Dennis-DeVries said that after the shooting, he saw the man with the dog run off around a corner.

Dennis-DeVries did not respond to a message seeking comment yesterday.

From the outset, police said that they believed the shooting was random — Dennis-DeVries was not specifically targeted — but that the greater community was in no danger.

In the interview, Vail said police stand by their characterization, but said that releasing more information could jeopardize the investigation.

The shooting, Vail said, was not “premeditated,” but evidence suggests there was no reason to fear other such random shootings.

“I know people were concerned — should I be fearful of walking downtown?” Vail said. “We don’t think that’s the case, but it’s hard to say without letting the cat out of the bag. It’s tough to say that, but it is what it is. We’re pretty comfortable.”

Mark Davis can be reached at mcdavis@vnews.com or 603-727-3304.