Police: Tunbridge man threatened neighbor with gun

By JOHN LIPPMAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 09-20-2023 8:29 PM

TUNBRIDGE — A Tunbridge man whose Siberian husky was dognapped out of his home earlier this year was forced to his knees and held at gunpoint by his neighbor before the neighbor discharged his gun while the man was talking on the phone with his ex-wife, police said Wednesday.

Thomas Hynes, 65, of New Brighton Hill Road, has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and unlawful restraint in the first degree, both felonies, after he allegedly confronted neighbor Brent Morrill, 55, also of New Brighton Hill Road, and accused Morrill of stealing his property, according to court documents.

The bullet fired from the pistol did not strike Morrill and he was not injured, police said, and both a projectile and the casing were recovered from the scene.

Morrill, who himself has a history of run-ins with the law, is currently under supervision by the Hartford Probation and Parole office.

He resides on a property at the end of New Brighton Hill Road in Tunbridge, several miles up from Route 113.

In January, Vermont State Police issued a news release seeking the public’s help in locating Morrill’s Siberian husky, named Tundra, after Morrill reported that Tundra was stolen from his home while he was away.

Morrill told the Valley News several weeks later that he retrieved Tundra from the people who took him, although he declined to elaborate on how he learned who took the dog or why they had taken him.

Police said they were notified at around 2:40 p.m. Tuesday of “a shooting on New Brighton Hill Road” when Morrill called them to report “that his neighbor … made him get on his knees, pointed gun at his head, then shot round into” a nearby embankment, explaining that his “neighbor did this because he was upset with (Morrill) and believed he had stolen something from him.”

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The neighbor, subsequently identified as Hynes, of Saunderstown, R.I., then walked back to his house.

Morrill told police that the unneighborly confrontation began when he had left his house at 85 New Brighton Hill Road, where he does not get cellphone reception, and walked down the road to make a phone call.

When he passed Hynes’ driveway at 40 Brighton Hill Road while talking on the phone with his ex-wife, Morrill said Hynes “approached him on the road” and ordered him to “get on your knees,” exclaiming, “Why the f--- did you break into my cabin?” according to account from police.

“He pointed a gun at the back of my head, and I thought I was done,” Morrill told police.

Police also said they interviewed Morrill’s ex-wife, who told them that she heard what sounded like a gunshot while she was talking on the phone with Morrill, the affidavit said.

Police subsequently interviewed Hynes in his driveway. When questioned, Hynes “indicated that he has frustrations with Brent from past interactions (and) believes that Brent stole from his property earlier in the year.”

But Hynes denied to police that he was involved in the shooting incident with Morrill or that he possessed a handgun, the affidavit said.

After investigators retrieved a casing and projectile from the scene, police later Tuesday evening were granted a search warrant to search Hynes’ residence, where they found a Springfield Armory V10 Ultra Compact .45 caliber pistol “inside a blue Weber grill on the property.”

Hynes was arraigned in Orange County Superior Court on Wednesday, where he pleaded not guilty to the charges and afterward was ordered held in lieu of bail.

As of late Wednesday afternoon, Vermont Department of Corrections online records showed that Hynes, who was booked into jail the prior night, was being held in Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield pending payment of $2,500 in bail.

Contact John Lippman at jlippman@vnews.com.