Donald Ely-Gardner, 27, was shot in the chest around 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 30. He was taken to the Manchester Police Department by a friend, Bill Nichols, who Gardner had called soon after the shooting took place.
The shooting apparently occurred behind the former Movado store on Main Street, according to the Manchester Police Department. That is where the police found the initial evidence of the shooting, they said, although Ely-Gardner told them the incident took place near the mini-roundabout close to the Shaw's supermarket.
"He is going to live," said Manchester Police Chief Michael Hall. "He is in critical but stable condition and at this point we are hopeful that we will have the opportunity to discuss exactly what took place."
Hall said members of the Manchester Police Department and a Vermont State Trooper immediately rendered first aid once Gardner arrived at the police department until the Manchester Rescue Squad arrived on the scene.
"That is an element that is troublesome to us," said Hall about Ely-Gardner choosing to call his friend to bring him to the police station instead of calling 911. "There were at least a couple of phone calls made between Donald and his friend indicating what had happened. Then the fact that 911 wasn't summoned and the decision was made to drive him to our facility, I think that raises some suspicions. I can't speak to why they didn't, there was really no explanation. When these kind of things happen people tend to not think rationally. Hopefully Mr. Gardner can explain that when we talk to him."
The rescue squad transported Gardner to the Southern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington and was then airlifted to Albany Medical Center.
"The medical staff in Albany has provided us with some information, we have not been able to speak with the attending physician directly," said Hall on Wednesday, Jan. 2. "I have heard that the bullet was not going to be removed but I have not had that confirmed by anyone of any authority. I have reached out to some of Mr. Gardner's family members with no response."
Manchester Police, with the assistance of Vermont State Police and detectives from the Shaftsbury barracks, are still conducting an investigation. "We are still trying to make contact with the victim and there are some issues with the availability in order to talk to him," Hall said. "Also we are getting some evidence prepared to get it to the crime lab for analysis. Hopefully we can make some sort of determination by the end of the week." The police still have no evidence relating to who the shooter might have been.
"Absolutely nothing," said Hall when asked if there are any leads as to who the shooter is. "There are no indications of any other witnesses. We basically don't have anything other than the statement from the victim saying that he was shot by an unknown passerby vehicle. There has been no other evidence that would solidify that statement. We are aware of no information that there were any other additional witness's."
A firearm or any evidence of one has not been found at the crime scene. The Manchester Police Department had the aid of a New York State Police bomb detection dog who is also capable of detecting gunpowder residue and found nothing.
"It doesn't mean that there isn't anything there because we were searching under adverse weather conditions, 18 inches of snow," said Hall. "The road has been plowed, there were a lot of issues that interfered with that."
When asked if the incident might have been drug related Hall said that he has no reason to believe that this is drug related based on the information that they have.
"I am not saying this is not possible but we do not have any information that would indicate that," said Hall.
Ely-Gardner has been an employee with Hand Motors for the past few months.
Ely-Gardner was involved in a domestic violence charge on Dec. 26 and the authorities are looking into it as a possible motive.
According to a report by the Rutland Herald, Ely-Gardner has a history of criminal activity in the Bennington area. He currently has seven felony charges pending for a violation of an abuse prevention order. Ely-Gardner also has a pending charge of driving under the influence of alcohol and was convicted in 2010 of domestic assault in Bennington Criminal Court.
More information will be available upon the completion of forensic analysis and a further interview with Ely-Gardner. At the present time Manchester Police do not have any reason to believe that residents are at risk, Hall stated in a press statement released earlier in the week.
Anyone with information on the shooting is requested to contact the Manchester Police at 362-2121.