A Vermont Department for Children and Families worker was shot and killed in Barre City on Friday afternoon by a mother unhappy with losing custody of her child, city and state officials said.
Lara Sobel died from two gunshot wounds as she left the DCF office at the Barre City Place, 219 North Main St., at about 4:45 p.m., Barre City Police Chief Tim Bombardier said.
The suspect, Jody Herring, was tackled by eyewitnesses and held until police arrived, the chief said.
A rifle with a scope lay under a window of City Place, which houses some state offices. The weapon was described by the chief as a “fairly high caliber hunting rifle.”
Sobel, who was “shot in close proximity,” was a resident of Washington County, the police said. The ages and specific hometowns of the victim and the suspect were not immediately released by the authorities.
Herring lost custody of her 9-year-old child July 10, Bombardier said at a news conference about four hours after the shooting. The child remains in state custody.
Herring is expected to be arraigned Monday on a homicide charge in Vermont Superior Court in Barre.
Sobel, who worked for more than 14 years at DCF, is survived by a husband and two daughters.
The police were interviewing about 10 witnesses Friday night. Investigators also were checking to see if Herring and Sobel knew each other beyond the July 10 case, Bombardier said.
“We’re doing the best we can to support our staff,” DCF Commissioner Ken Schatz said at the news conference after Bombardier spoke.
“Any sort of death is a tragedy. In this situation, we lost one of our own,” he said.
“We remain committed to supporting families. There are tensions, and we will continue to do the best we can,” the commissioner said.
Gov. Peter Shumlin ordered extra precautions for state workers in the coming days.
“Until we know more about this incident, DCF staff have been directed to only go out on emergency calls this weekend accompanied by law enforcement,” Shumlin said in a statement.
“This is a tragedy for Vermont,” longtime Barre City Mayor Thom Lauzon said. He said the tragedy affects more than just Barre.
“My heart goes out to the victim and the victim’s family,” said Lauzon, who had been briefed by city police.
At the scene Friday evening, the body lay under a white sheet near a light pole at the edge of a parking lot. A shoe could be seen in the parking lot, several feet from the body.
Crime-scene tape blocked the site and the street as police officers worked. Onlookers gathered.
The Vermont Attorney General’s Office is expected to handle the prosecution, because Washington County State’s Attorney Scott Williams, who took office in February, was among the witnesses to the shooting, according to investigators.
Two Barre women at the scene said they were headed to a church dinner when two gunshots rang out late Friday afternoon.
Judy Pecore and Linda Devine said they heard there was a dispute involving child custody.
“This won’t be the last time,” said Pecore, who noted Barre has changed in recent years.
“Now she will spend the rest of her life in jail,” Pecore said, referring to the suspect.
Chief Vermont Superior Court Judge Brian Grearson, who lives in Washington County, said he had heard about the shooting and checked to make sure the incident had not happened at court.
“As best as I can tell, there were no Family Court hearings today,” said Grearson, who had talked with a court worker. Pat Gable, the state’s chief court administrator, confirmed there was no court hearing Friday.
The shooting occurred a few hundred yards from the state courthouse, which handles family and criminal court matters.
Shumlin noted the hard work that state social workers are asked to perform.
“They do the work out of their dedication to the children and families of this great state. To lose one of our own in the course of that duty is shocking and heartbreaking,” Shumlin said.
“We feel terrible about the DCF worker who lost her life,” said Gabel, who helps run court statewide as the chief administrator. “They handle very tough cases.”
Vermont Sen. President Pro Tempore John Campbell, D-Windsor agreed.
“I am beside myself. These men and women put their lives on the line each day, and we don’t understand the serious nature of these cases,” said Campbell, who also is a state prosecutor.
“This could happen in any state office or court,” Campbell said. “We do not pay them enough and respect them enough.”
“Social workers — these are on the front line dealing with people with substance-abuse and mental-health issues,” he added.
Social workers often go into some of the worst homes without protection from law enforcement.
“They are priest, psychologist and cop all in one,” Campbell said.
A longtime Barre City legislator was dismayed by the shooting.
“My heart and prayers go out to the victim’s family,” said Rep. Paul Poirier, I-Barre City. “And to me it’s just an indication of how dangerous that particular line of work is.”
The Department for Children and Families has been criticized in recent years, Poirier noted, but sometimes the emotional, difficult nature of the work is overlooked.
House Speaker Shap Smith took to Facebook to offer his thoughts.
“Devastated and heartbroken by the news of the shooting of a DCF employee in Barre City. My thoughts and prayers go out to the employee’s family, friends and colleagues,” he wrote.
Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington and an advocate for protecting Vermont children, offered his support.
“My heart goes out to the family and all DCF workers,” Sears told the Free Press.
Shelley Martin, the president of the Vermont State Employees Association, said the union will offer support to members.
“Our prayers and thoughts tonight and in the coming days are with all the employees in Barre, their families and especially the family, friends and co-worker of the employee killed,” Martin said in a statement.
Mayor Lauzon said the Vermont State Police will work hand-in-hand with Barre City Police.
Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn said his department offered all support needed by Barre City Police. He said the department’s Major Crime Unit and Crime Scene Search Team were dispatched to the shooting scene.
State Police Capt. Kraig LaPorte, director of the major crime squad, said at about 7 p.m. that officers were attempting to sort out details. The Crime Lab arrived about 8:35 p.m.
Flynn said he had briefed both Gov. Shumlin, who is on vacation, and Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, who is the acting governor.
The incident occurred on the final day of work for State Police Director Col. Tom L’Esperance. A retirement dinner was starting to get underway in South Burlington when reports of the shooting arrived, and some troopers had to detour to the scene in Barre, about 40 miles from Burlington in central Vermont.
Gov. Peter Shumlin’s office issued the following statement Friday night in response to the shooting of a DCF worker. The statement reads in full:
Earlier this evening, a Department of Children and Families (DCF) employee was fatally shot outside of a state office building in Barre. While the investigation is ongoing, it appears at this time that the incident is in connection with the employee’s work on behalf of DCF. The identity of the employee is being withheld pending notification of the family. Gov. Shumlin has been briefed on the incident and is receiving updates as they become available. He issued the following statement.
“While we won’t know all the details for some time, the initial reports are horrific and break my heart. I’ve asked the Department of Human Resources to immediately make available crisis and grief counseling services to state employees affected by this incident. I have also asked the Agency of Administration to work with Vermont State Police to support the investigation. While there is no indication of a broader threat, the Agency of Administration will review security procedures in state buildings in light of this tragic event and provide any additional measures immediately. Additionally, until we know more about this incident, DCF staff have been directed to only go out on emergency calls this weekend accompanied by law enforcement.
“The employees at DCF deal with the most challenging family situations that one can imagine. They do the work out of their dedication to the children and families of this great state. To lose one of our own in the course of that duty is shocking and heartbreaking.”
80 Million Stimulus Check Direct Deposits Have Been Processed. When Will They Arrive?
Americans will start to see their stimulus payments this week, a centerpiece of the $2.2 trillion rescue package meant to provide a buffer against the coronavirus pandemic that’s shuttered much of the U.S. economy.
The Internal Revenue Service has begun sending $1,200 payments to middle and lower income adults, plus $500 for their minor children, though it could take until September for every eligible person to get the money.
The first payments “should be deposited directly into individuals’ bank accounts; the precise date you will see payments in your account depends on how long individual banks typically take to process direct deposits,” according to a press release from House Ways and Means Committee Republicans.
The IRS will first send the money to individuals for whom the agency has direct deposit information. The remainder will be mailed as checks. That process is expected to begin April 20 but could take until the fall to complete.
The IRS processed more than 80 million payments on Friday that should be available in bank accounts early this week, Sunita Lough, the IRS deputy commissioner for services and enforcement, said in a video conference Monday.
Payments will be made first to those earning the least.
The IRS has launched a tool for non-tax filers, such as those who had income under $12,200 last year and weren’t required to file a federal return, to enter direct deposit information to get their payments.
The agency plans to have a second website up by April 17 that will show people the status of their payments, including the date the money is scheduled to be deposited or mailed. That tool will also let people who’ve typically gotten their tax refund in the mail to provide their bank account details to get their stimulus payment more quickly.
The IRS is using information from 2018 and 2019 tax returns to process the payments. It says taxpayers who’ve yet to file a return this year should do so as soon as possible, and elect to receive the refund via a direct deposit. The information can then be used to distribute the stimulus payments. Social Security and disability recipients will receive their payments automatically.
The tax deadline was extended to July 15 from April 15 to give people more time to file and pay during the pandemic.
Taxpayers who don’t need extra time and who expect to get a stimulus payment should file as soon as possible so the agency has their most up-to-date details on file, said Christina Taylor, head of operations for Credit Karma Tax.
“The quicker, the better,” she said.
Americans earning $75,000 or less, or $150,000 and below as a couple, are eligible for the full $1,200 payout per adult, plus $500 for each child under 17. Those amounts are reduced for people with higher incomes, and people who make $99,000 or more in earnings (or $198,000 for a couple) get nothing, even if they have children. Individuals must have a Social Security number to receive a payment.
A Case of Hantavirus Has Been Reported in China. Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Worry.
A man who died in China Monday reportedly tested positive for a hantavirus, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should worry another pandemic is coming…
A man who died in China Monday reportedly tested positive for a hantavirus, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should worry another pandemic is coming.
Hantaviruses are a family of virus that spread through rodents, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Yunnan Province, a man died on his way back to Shandong Province, according to Global Times, an English-language Chinese news outlet.
“He was tested positive for #hantavirus. Other 32 people on bus were tested,” the news outlet tweeted.
The tweet, sent amid a pandemic caused by a new coronavirus, has been shared more than 15,000 times.
Though countries across the globe are on high alert due to uncertainty around the coronavirus, there is no indication that the hantavirus poses a global public health threat.
According to the CDC, hantavirus cases are rare, and they spread as a result of close contact with rodent urine, droppings or saliva.
Certain kinds of rats and mice in the United States can carry the virus, which is transmitted when someone breathes in contaminated air.
“The hantaviruses that cause human illness in the United States cannot be transmitted from one person to another,” the CDC says on its website. Rare cases in Chile and Argentina have seen person-to-person transmission when a person is in close contact with someone sickened by a type of hantavirus called Andes virus, the CDC says.
In the U.S., the virus can cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, a severe respiratory disease that can be fatal. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, muscle aches, headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems. Coughing and shortness of breath can occur later in the disease as the lungs fill with liquid, the CDC says,
Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, found mostly in Europe and Asia, can also occur, which causes pain, fever, chills, nausea, and blurred vision, the CDC says. More serious symptoms include acute kidney failure.
Cases in the United States have typically been concentrated in the western and southwestern states.
From 1993 to 2017, there were only 728 confirmed hantavirus cases in the United States, with most being non-fatal, according to CDC data. In comparison, since late January, when the first known coronavirus case was identified in the U.S., there have been 46,805 confirmed coronavirus cases nationwide, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.
In May 1993, a hantavirus outbreak occurred in an area between Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. A 2012 outbreak in Yosemite sickened 10 people. In seven states, 17 people were infected in a 2017 outbreak.
Developments in Presidential Race, Trump does Terribly at Forum as Clinton shines
November is lurking around the corner and will be here before you know it, so my question to you is, have you decided who you will vote for? I have, and I proudly say my choice is Hillary Rodham Clinton. I am informing you all that there are ample development in the race for the presidency of the United States…
November is lurking around the corner and will be here before you know it, so my question to you is, have you decided who you will vote for? I have, and I proudly say my choice is Hillary Rodham Clinton. I am informing you all that there are ample development in the race for the presidency of the United States.
First of all, Donald Trump, according to Kristina Vong’s article at Thehill.com, wrongly corrected a veteran Marine during a forum. The veteran, a woman named Rachel Fredericks, asked Mr. Trump how he plans to stop 20 veterans from committing suicide, daily. Trump tried to correct the woman, who needed no correction. He said it is actually 22, trying to emerge correct, when he was essentially incorrect.
Mr. Trump also does not have a real plan to defeat ISIS, as “his plan is to have a plan” according to Igor Bobic at the Huffington Post. He also insulted military leaders calling them embarrassments to the country when they were under President Obama. He wants to give the generals 30 days to come up with a plan to defeat ISIS. Of course, this even makes it more obvious that Mr. Trump does not have a plan to defeat ISIS. Why, then did he call our current president the founder of ISIS? How can you give your vote to someone so unprepared and unfit for the presidency that constitutes a whole country? Sorry to say, but Donald Trump is not someone to vote for, at least not as US President!
According to Sean Colarossi at PoliticusUSA.com, a presidential forum highlighted how prepared Trump and Clinton are compared to each other, with Clinton appearing as the more prepared one, very easily. Clinton was engaged with questions, expressed gratitude, and was very prolific and intelligible in her responses. To reiterate, Trump has not a plan to defeat ISIS, where Hillary has a well thought-out plan. She outlined her plan, entailing it could take any form and she iterated and supports the idea that terror suspects should not be able to purchase firearms. Clinton also covered issues like mental health, illuminating the fact that it is overlooked, and mental health should no longer be stigmatized and victims of mental disorders should have access to resources. On the other hand, Trump gave generic answers like that he knows what is going on in the world. Also according to Colarossi’s article, Trump showed as an “empty suit” and “showed he is not prepared to be commander-in-chief” and that the contrast between him and Clinton could not be clearer”; this essentially means Clinton showed to be immensely more prepared to lead and did not focus on attacking others, like Trump’s approach does.
Lastly, Donald Trump has insulted women, children, ethnic groups, religious groups, his opponent, our current president, the military, and the list goes on. He is patronizing and unprepared to preside over our country as well. He constantly attacks others, with no action in mind. Consider if you want to have him as president, seriously!
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