Police: New Year's Eve shooting wound was self-inflicted

MANCHESTER - The Manchester Police Department has concluded that the shooting incident involving Donald Ely-Gardner, 27, on Dec. 31, was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, according to Manchester Chief of Police Michael Hall.

Ely-Gardner remains at the Albany Medical Center in stable condition.

Immediately following the shooting, Ely-Gardner was taken to the Manchester Police Station by a friend, Bill Nichols, where Ely-Gardner had indicated that he was shot by an unknown person. From there he was transported by the Manchester Rescue Squad the Southern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington and subsequently transferred to Albany Medical Center.

"From that point we really were not able to interview him because of the extent of his injuries," said Hall. "We started our investigation based on the information that we did have. The evidence indicated that it most likely did not occur as described by Ely-Gardner."

From that point the Manchester Police looked into the evidence until Ely-Gardner was available for questioning on Thursday, Jan. 10, Hall said.

"We recovered the firearm. It was recovered from the family who found it and brought it to the police," said Hall. "We followed the leads and the evidence which subsequently put us in the position of confronting Gardner, who admitted that he had injured himself."

The firearm that was recovered and was the cause of the gunshot wound was a .22 caliber pistol, he said.

According to Hall, the next steps in the investigation are to review the medical records and follow up with a conversation with the Vermont State's Attorney, prior to closing the investigation.

When asked if Ely-Gardner might be criminally charged for anything, Hall said that it is very rare to pursue such action against victims of self-inflicted injuries.

"It is not general practice of the police to pursue criminal complaints against individuals who try to harm themselves. I don't expect that to be different in this particular case," he said.

The police have yet to receive a toxicology report from the night of the incident, said Hall, but the Manchester Police will ultimately have possession of those documents.

"The only reason we would give out this information that this was a self-inflicted gunshot when we have a victim that has been identified is because it is an appropriate thing to do to put the public at ease," said Hall. "Any time anyone gets shot there is never a happy ending. From a public prospective it certainly does ease the public's fear of the unknown. Now that we know what happened we are just hopeful that Mr. Gardner will get himself physically and mentally well and continue his life."

Prior to the shooting Ely-Gardner had been arrested on charges of domestic violence on Dec. 26.

"I really wouldn't want to speculate on a motive," Hall said. "I think there is some information that we got from the interview that we will take under advisement. There is nothing that would indicate that Gardner poses any kind of threat to the general public. Normally we don't discuss personal matters to that extent."


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