Police: Man stalked, flashed gun at woman, child
Gerald Brian Wright was arrested by Vermont State Police after the incident near Emerald Lake in Dorset on Wednesday afternoon.
Wright, 53, pleaded not guilty in Bennington criminal court on Thursday to single felony counts of aggravated stalking with a deadly weapon and aggravated stalking a person under 16-years-old, and a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence.
Judge David A. Howard granted a prosecutor's request that Wright be held without bail pending a weight of evidence hearing to determine what, if any, release conditions could be set.
Police were dispatched to a residence on Route 7 in Dorset at about 5:54 p.m. Trooper Benjamin Irwin wrote in an affidavit that a 41-year-old woman called 911 and reported her mother and three-year-old daughter were approached by a man in the woods. She told police the man had a gun and had followed them back to their residence.
The 65-year-old victim does not speak English; her native language is Serbian, according to the affidavit. The woman provided a written statement to police through her daughter.
The victim told police she was walking with her grandchild when a man on a four wheeler came up to her. The man, who had two firearms, pulled in front of them and began to yell, but she only recognized the word "police."
"As they returned to the residence he continued to yell and show his gun by lifting his shirt up and down, displaying the handgun on his hip," Irwin wrote.
The victim's daughter told police her mother eventually called her and handed her cell phone to Wright.
Wright was yelling for them to go home "because the child would freeze." Wright also said he would call police "because the child cannot be outside in the cold," Irwin wrote.
The affidavit noted the weather at the time was 70 degrees with light rain.
When the victim's daughter told Wright that he was scaring her mother, he allegedly said, "OK, I'll go and take my medication now, I am sorry." Wright said he would return to the residence later.
Wright was at the residence when troopers arrived. In an interview with police, he allegedly said he was "riding his four wheeler, searching for Sasquatch signs," that he "has seen Sasquatch in the past" and that's the reason he was carrying a pistol.
Irwin wrote he could smell a moderate odor of alcohol coming from Wright, who told police he had driven himself there in his pickup truck with his girlfriend and his two minor children.
A preliminary breath test showed a blood alcohol content of .097. Wright was taken into custody and agreed to provide an evidential breath test that later showed a BAC of .064. Wright told police he had five beers. The legal limit to drive in Vermont is .08.
Wright told police that he only had a pocket knife on his person. He told them that, at the time of the incident, he did have a .38 caliber pistol on his hip and a shotgun. Troopers later seized those firearms, as well as a .22 caliber semi automatic rifle and a 12 gauge pump shotgun, from Wright's home. All four firearms were loaded.
Wright was arraigned via video from Rutland prison.
Deputy State's Attorney Alexander Burke asked that Wright be held without bail. Burke, referring to Wright's comments to police, said: "The state has concerns about his mental state."
Defense attorney Jeffrey Rubin, representing Wright during his arraignment, said his criminal record includes misdemeanor convictions and was not significant. Rubin said Wright would be able to follow conditions if he was released.
"There's no indication he brandished either weapon or made any direct threats," Rubin said.
Howard said testimony was needed until he would consider setting conditions of release such as a curfew. Howard said the hearing would be set as soon as possible.
Ed Damon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @edamon_banner on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 111.
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