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Police fatally shoot subject of Bethel-area manhunt; hostage unharmed

  • Authorities force entry into a home at 896 Gage Road on Saturday, May 11, 2019, in Royalton. Police were searching for Jeremy Potwin, 39, of Bethel, who violated conditions of release stemming from a conviction in a fatal car crash and escaped from Probation & Parole, police said in a press release. Police asked anyone in the home to come out before forcing the door open. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint »

  • Vermont State Police Trooper Jeremy Lyon walks over to an ambulance at a road block Gage Road on Saturday, May 11, 2019, in Bethel. Police were searching for Jeremy Potwin, 39, of Bethel, who violated conditions of release stemming from a conviction in a fatal car crash and escaped from Probation & Parole, police said in a press release. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint »

  • Vermont State Police Trooper Jeremy Lyon rolls up spike strips at a road block Gage Road on Saturday, May 11, 2019, in Bethel. Police were searching for Jeremy Potwin, 39, of Bethel, who violated conditions of release stemming from a conviction in a fatal car crash and escaped from Probation & Parole, police said in a press release. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint »

  • Jeremy Potwin walks out of court after being arraigned on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017, at Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt. Potwin was arrested on Saturday after allegedly being involved in a fatal accident in Royalton on Friday night. (Valley News - Charles Hatcher) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • The Vermont State Police is alerting the public about a potentially dangerous individual, Jeremy Potwin, 39, of Bethel, Vt., and asking for tips to help locate Potwin, who is wanted on two arrest warrants - violation of conditions of release, and escape from Probation & Parole - arising from his conviction in 2018 for leaving the scene of a 2017 motor vehicle crash with death resulting in South Royalton. Mr. Potwin also is wanted for questioning in connection with a vehicle pursuit with the Vermont State Police on Friday, May 3, and with an aggravated assault and kidnapping that occurred Thursday, May 9, in Braintree in which he is suspected of assaulting a male associate and discharging a firearm. No one was seriously injured. (Vermont State Police via AP)



Valley News Staff Writer
Sunday, May 12, 2019

TUNBRIDGE — Vermont State Police on Saturday night fatally shot a 39-year Bethel man following a standoff after he emerged from a Gage Road home with a female hostage and pointed a weapon toward members of a SWAT team, authorities said.

Jeremy Potwin, who had been the subject of an intensive manhunt in recent days, died following the shooting, police said. The woman he was holding hostage was uninjured, police said.

Police described Potwin as “an armed and dangerous suspect in an escalating series of crimes over the past several weeks” and said they had information that he was at a home on Gage Road in Tunbridge, according to a state police news release early Sunday.

The state police Tactical Services Unit and crisis negotiators responded to the scene and determined that Potwin was in the home with a woman who he knew.

Discussions began in an attempt to get Potwin to surrender, but he also fired “multiple shots out of the home” during negotiations, according to the news release.

Shortly before 8 p.m., after several hours of the standoff, Potwin came out of the home “carrying two handguns and holding the woman hostage,” the release said. He then “pointed a weapon in the direction” of the SWAT team, and two troopers shot him with patrol rifles.

The news release said personnel provided first aid to Potwin, and he was taken to Gifford Medical Center in Randolph and pronounced dead.

Minutes after the shooting, police were seen forcing their way into a home at 896 Gage Road, which straddles the Royalton-Tunbridge line, and where a neighbor said Potwin had been living, to search it.

Nobody else was injured in the incidents, though the woman who had been held hostage was being evaluated at Gifford for precautionary reasons, police said.

Police did not immediately release the names of the two troopers who shot Potwin, and per agency policy, they were placed on paid administrative leave for a minimum of five days, after which they could return to administrative duty.

The news release said the investigation into the incident is in its “earliest stages” and involves the Vermont State Police Major Crime Unit, Bureau of Criminal Investigations and Crime Scene Search. It will also be reviewed by the Vermont Attorney General’s Office and the Orange County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Gage Road is also known as Gage Hill Road, feeds into Route 14 in East Bethel, and straddles part of the Royalton-Tunbridge town line. State Police, aided by the FBI, had been searching for Potwin in the area throughout the week.

Members of the Tactical Services Unit, for instance, were seen in the heart of East Bethel on Thursday night.

Earlier on Saturday, police had asked the public for help in finding Potwin, who had two warrants out for his arrest and was a suspect in an assault and kidnapping on Thursday in Braintree, Vt. In that incident, he was accused of assaulting a man and firing a gun, police said. No one was seriously injured.

They also wanted to question Potwin about a car chase involving Vermont State Police in the White River Valley on May 3.

He was wanted for violating conditions of release stemming from his conviction in a fatal car crash in South Royalton in 2017 and for escaping from Probation & Parole, police said in a news release.

Potwin had pleaded guilty in January 2018 to negligent operation, leaving the scene of an accident and driving with a suspended license in the crash, which killed a childhood friend.

In that case, he was sentenced to 180 days of 24-hour home confinement, and was to spend 60 days on a work crew, as part of a three-to-eight-year sentence that was otherwise suspended.

The armed standoff and fatal shooting Saturday night capped a tumultuous couple of weeks in the neighborhood. Police have also been investigating a fire that destroyed a house and garage on April 23 at 908 Gage Hill Road, one of at least three suspicious fires in Tunbridge last month.

It also was the second shooting involving Vermont State Police in the Upper Valley in less than a week.

A trooper shot and grazed an armed 19-year-old Quechee man last Sunday following a domestic dispute in which he allegedly fired a shotgun at a house.

Correction

Vermont State Police searched a home that was owned by Jeremy Potwin at 896 Gage Road in Royalton shortly after shooting and killing him during an armed standoff on Saturday night. An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect street number for the house.