Vermont labor commissioner defends family against knife-wielding home invader

45 Crescent Avenue, Northfield (public real estate photo)

After release on citation, alleged attacker killed himself

By Guy Page

The next-door-neighbor of Vermont Dept. of Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington broke into his Northfield duplex home Tuesday night, threatened him and his family with a knife, and was then subdued by Harrington, according to police and other sources. 

Police say David Young, 32, was brought to the Central Vermont Medical Center and released with a citation for burglary and aggravated assault. He then returned home that night to 45 Crescent Avenue and shot himself to death. 

State of Vermont photo of Dept. of Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington

The motive for the home invasion is being withheld by police as part of the ongoing investigation. But it wasn’t theft or vandalism, Northfield Police Chief John Helfant said Thursday. Vermont law construes any unwanted home entry with a deadly weapon as burglary and aggravated assault. Young did not have a criminal record, Helfant said, adding that he would leave any discussion of Young’s mental health to his family members.

Helfant would not release the name of the victim or his family. However, public records show that Harrington lives at 45 Crescent Avenue, Northfield, the address of both Young and the victim. Gov. Phil Scott’s office and other sources provided confirmation. 

The home is a duplex, Helfant said. Young was apparently staying at the home with the permission of its owner, Helfant said. 

According to a Northfield Police Dept. statement, dispatchers at 9:14 pm on Tuesday, July 26 sent officers “to a residence on Crescent Avenue for a reported burglary and assault. Northfield Police arrived and took Young into custody. Subsequent investigation found that Young forced his way into a residence and attempted to attack a family with a knife. Young was then transported to Central Vermont Medical Center. He was released on conditions and flash cited to appear in Vermont Superior Court- Washington Criminal Division on 7/27/2022.”

Helfant said that the homeowner subdued, held down, and sat on Young, without aid of weapon or injury to himself. 

Gov. Phil Scott is aware of the incident, Press Secretary Jason Maulucci said yesterday: “Governor Scott has been briefed on this tragic situation and details are still being gathered. He is grateful that Commissioner Harrington and members of his household were unharmed.”

Harrington, appointed Deputy Commissioner for the Vermont Department of Labor by Governor Phil Scott in January of 2017, became Interim Commissioner for the Department on September 3, 2019, and was appointed Commissioner on June 1, 2020.

Prior to joining the Scott Administration, Harrington served as the Economic and Community Development Director for the Town of Bennington. He was born in Bennington, and for a period of time held the role of Director of Client Relations and Training for his family’s Vermont-based international organizational development firm.

The police incident was the second in seven days for a member of Scott’s cabinet. John Quinn, the State of Vermont’s Secretary of Digital Services, was cited for disorderly conduct Wednesday, July 20 on State Street in Montpelier, Montpelier police said yesterday. The other individual in the non-violent parking lot disagreement also was cited for disorderly conduct.

Categories: Crime

9 replies »

  1. Although in this case it may be coincidental, attacks on public officials over the last few years have become very concerning. What is equally as concerning is that when an offender commits what can only be described as a serious case of burglary and assault with a deadly weapon in an occupied dwelling, he is not held in custody for some period. If this derelict was in custody, his suicide would most certainly have been prevented. It is open to debate as to whether the planet is better off with or without him, but he did die by his own hand. Since the legal system does not send out proper messaging that attacking someone in their own home is socially unacceptable, what really needs to happen in these cases of imminent deadly threats is a commensurate use of deadly force directed by the victim toward the perpetrator. Not all criminals who engage in violent home invasions show the courtesy of removing themselves from society in such a timely manner.

    • I find this an incredibly insensitive response to a loss of life. Any life. Attitudes like this contribute to violence in our society, they do not help quell it.

      • You can expect that from the general audience that read the completely biased and trashy reporting that comes from The Vermont Daily Chronicle. It feeds the angry mob that, hopefully, is still a minority in Vermont.

  2. It is unbelievable to me that a person who commits burglary and aggravated assault ONLY gets a citation and is released! What do these wacko officials think is going to happen to society when people are not held accountable for their bad behavior? Anyone with common sense can see every day the escalation of violence, as the woke-thinking policy makers are clueless to reality on the streets!

  3. Jeezum Crow people! Everybody ought to downshift a couple gears, it’s not worth getting killed over some hair across your butt..Thank God he was “subdued” without Harrington getting slashed, anyone here ever been stabbed? It’s NO fun & hurts like hell, IF you survive! That being said, a good alert dog, even a small one, and a handgun handy help when a 911 call averages a 20 minute response. The VSP ought to do tox-screens of ALL the perp’s to see if the proliferation of SSRI’s/SSNI’s & other drugs contribute to the rise of these crazy incidents, about 1 in 10 Americans are NOW on these drugs, any correlation here? They should compile THESE stat’s along w/all the others in their reports. If the Vt. AG’s office can sue over opioids..Maybe there’s an “underlying problem” here..

  4. To focus on the positive, Harrington subdued him unarmed and protected his family. Sounds like heroic action to me.

  5. On July 16, Gov Scott said this: “What I hope Vermonters take away from this discussion is: It’s okay to not feel okay. Because you’re not alone, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of in getting some help or just taking some time to care for yourself,” Scott said. “I also want people to know there is still a lot of good out there, and there is always reason for hope.” Two weeks later, his Labor Commissioner is involved in a home invasion by a person obviously under duress. The “attacker” is taken to CVMC, not evaluated, released, and the person returns to the scene of the crime and commits suicide. How many failures in our system do we see in this one incident? If the victim did not involve a bureaucrat, would it get so much attention? I’m sure police agencies deal with this every single day and have been for decades now. What I see, beyond the obviously tragic situation, is further evidence of a failed system and a corrupted State government. All the sympathy pours out to Mr. Harrington. Yet, the deceased has a story that led him to his last day on Earth. God is watching all of this and His hand is moving. Get beyond the sensationalism of the story and realize there is much more of this going on every day. It is going to be much worse if People don’t stand up and refute the desecration of humanity caused by own representatives and corrupted systems.

  6. Melissa,
    How many failures in your logic do we see in this one posting? That Mr. Harrington is a bureaucrat has little to do with the fact that a person endangered a family with a lethal weapon yet was released the same day and committed suicide. That’s a trifecta that pays out in the media regardless of occupations. What type of corruption do you feel was at play here? Also, are you saying that a disturbed person committing suicide is “His hand moving”? And what particular desecration of humanity and corrupted system do you feel caused whatever it is that is bothering you? If there is any fault at all in this scenario, it is a system that does not require holding someone accused of threatening lethal force until it can be fully determined that they are no longer a threat to others or themselves.