Statewide, Vermont has had 10 homicides and one suspicious death since October

The recent shootings of three college students of Palestinian descent in Vermont’s largest city come as the small rural state, often ranked as one of the nation’s safest, is grappling with a spike in gun violence. Statewide, Vermont has had 10 homicides and one suspicious death since October, including a double homicide in Burlington. Burlington has seen 16 gunfire incidents so far this year. Many communities are experiencing an alarming rise in gun violence with recent shootings happening in Newport, Danville, St. Johnsbury, Brattleboro, Castleton, and others. The shooting deaths around the state this fall have taxed the short-staffed State Police, which has made arrests in two of them. The agency has a 15% vacancy rate — with 51 positions unfilled. Overall the country had a 6% decrease in national firearms homicides between 2021 and 2022, but Vermont saw a 185% jump, according to Vermont State Police Capt. Shawn Loan. About half of the homicides in Vermont involved a firearm between 2017 and 2021, he said. Last year that rose to 86%, Loan said. Statewide, Vermont’s homicide rate last year was about 3.9 per 100,000, compared with Los Angeles at 3.1 and New York City at 2.3 per 100,000. Burlington’s rate was 11.2 per 100,000, exceeding the rates in Philadelphia, Phoenix and Springfield, Massachusetts, according to Loan. “We don’t have enough ambulances to run, we don’t have enough homicide investigators because we’re not designed to have that high rate of violent crime.