Man shot by police murdered man with hammer 20 years ago

By Guy Page

A Castleton man shot to death by a Fair Haven police officer Monday was convicted in 2005 for murdering a man with a hammer for drug money. 

Kenneth Barber, 38, was shot to death Monday by Detective Shaun Hewitt following an altercation. 

State Police say the incident began shortly after 7:30 p.m. Monday when Barber left a 26 Washington St., Fair Haven home while armed with a handgun. Barber engaged in a dispute with several residents of 28 Washington St., who ultimately were able to restrain him and separate him from the gun. 

Hewitt arrived on scene in response to emergency calls about the ongoing fight. Barber subsequently broke free, managed to access a vehicle and attempted to drive away, at which point he struck Hewitt with the car. Hewitt fired his service weapon one time, hitting Barber.

An autopsy was completed Tuesday, June 20, 2023, at the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Burlington. The cause of Barber’s death was determined to be a gunshot wound to the torso, and the manner of death was classified as a homicide.

Hewitt has served with the Fair Haven department since 1998 after beginning his police career with the Rutland County Sheriff’s Department in 1991 and subsequently working for the Brandon Police Department. In Fair Haven, Hewitt acts as the department’s firearms instructor.

State police continue to investigate this incident. Anyone with relevant information is asked to call the Rutland Barracks at 802-773-9101 or leave an anonymous tip online at

Detectives have spoken with witnesses and reviewed bystander video of the incident; the Fair Haven Police Department is not equipped with body-worn cameras or cruiser cameras. The Crime Scene Search Team processed the location of the shooting, centered on a vehicle outside a residence at 26 Washington St.; completed its work Tuesday afternoon; and released the scene. The Fair Haven Police Department is cooperating with the VSP investigation.

Convicted of murder in 2005 – Barber was sentenced in 2005 to 15 years to life in the death of elderly WWII veteran Charles Schlosser, of Benson. Barber admitted to hitting Schlosser in the head during a robbery intended to get drug money.

Media reports in the Rutland Herald of the trial of the 2003 murder say a burglary accomplice told Barber “to hit Shlosser with something. He said he found a hammer nearby and struck Shlosser once in the head. Shlosser fell to the floor in the living room, the affidavit stated.” Items then stolen included model trains, miniature toy cars and military pins. 

Barber reportedly was furloughed in 2018. 

Categories: Crime

13 replies »

  1. I would assume being hit by a car would be attempted murder of a police officer and the officer was within his right to shoot. However given our new Att. General, I guess anything can happen.

  2. Unless I read that wrong “the manner of death was classified as a homicide”.
    That means he was killed without cause. Sorry a tree stops a car and only the driver gets hurt.
    Not justified.
    Like I said yesterday a cops have to be better trained. This was a needless death even if the guy was an ex-con. And yes Betty, it will be pushed under the rug.

    Thanks for giving Vermonters another reason or two to not call the cops or to own and practice with their own firearm. Didn’t the state get money for body cams and a cop car w/o a camera ??? Why is it that they are not out in service. Sounds like another reason to “get away with it”. Remember by default cops are believed over citizens in court. Funny, how in most other setting, that is not the case.
    I don’t even let cops stay behind me when I drive. No, you will not have an excuse to pull me over, let me guess, income generation. No thanks

    • Shannon, homicide is the killing of one person by another. It is not necessarily without cause (although it can be). There are many gradations of homicide.

      • Thanks . I still think the cop was wrong to shoot like that. he had options I think but w/o footage to clarify I find most cop shootings unnecessary. The used to beat a guy down now that is all but unheard of.

    • Well, I would contend that someone who killed someone’s with a hammer while pulling a robbery shouldn’t be out walking the streets in the first place…what a wimpy sentence for aggravated 2nd degree (at least) to begin with. On the bright side, if he was still in jail it would be costing us all a lot more money. Lastly, attempting to run someone over with a car (aka a deadly weapon) is clearly aggravated assault with intent to kill, thus using deadly force to stop the threat is totally warranted.

  3. Just think of all the hammers that could have been taken off the streets and murders prevented if we legislated hammer control 20 years ago when we had the chance.

  4. Just to clarify Shannon’s comment. “Homicide” means that the deceased had died as the result of the action of another person. “Murder”, on the other hand, means an unjustifiable killing of another. A person using a gun to intimidate or threaten another, who strikes a police officer with a car, minimum of assault with a deadly weapon, in an attempt to escape has shown homicidal intent. Since the man fleeing has a prior murder conviction, I doubt that there is a jury that would convict.

    I cannot support Shannon’s . Although police need continual training, I would not contemplate charging a police officer in these circumstances described.

    But Charity Clark is free to disagree, and have another case thrown out of court.

  5. Shannon. While some money was provided for local agencies to equip with cameras it didn’t cover all costs. Secure storage of the saved video is costly (not covered by the original grant) and dealing with requests for video (court, public records requests, etc) is labor intensive. Consequently many small agencies did not bite when the money to purchase cameras was dangled years ago. There is no pot of money ongoing funds for cameras. Not knowing any facts over and above what was reported you’ve concluded that this veteran officer, who as a firearms instructor has to attended more training than the average officer, is in the wrong. Police are not some phantom entity. They are our employees. If you don’t like the way business is done educate yourself and get involved. Go to board meetings. Engage with your local chief and ask questions about their training and policies.

  6. I’m very concerned over the processes which led this murder to be released from custody after serving what appears to be the minimum of his sentence. Violent men stay violent into their 40’s or beyond. Was he such a model citizen behind bars that we were duty bound to release him into society? We had the ability to hold him as long as it took to make sure chances of him being involved in violent crime again were minimal. How sure were the professionals that we would be safe from this murderer? That’s why indeterminate sentencing was created. Not so the majority could end their terms at the minimum. This man was in prison at least for 16 years, nearly half of his life, and nearly all of his adult life where many of his influences were other convicts. The justifications used to release this murderer so early need to be examined by our legislature and parole/furlough authorities. I’m glad he was the only one killed or injured in this incident. I wonder how many other crimes he was involved in since his release from prison. I will be writing my representative on this one.

  7. “In Fair Haven, Hewitt acts as the department’s firearms instructor.” He certainly has earned that distinction…one shot, on target…well done, Officer. Too bad the recent actions of a scumbag murderer like that have to bring darkness to your own doorstep, but as a taxpaying, law-abiding Vermonter I am grateful that this miscreant is not roaming free any longer. Didn’t think we had the death penalty for murder in Vermont any more, but sometimes that’s how things work out, in the absence of a credible justice system. We havn’t heard the last of this case, have we Atty Gen. “Charity”?

  8. It is too bad that too many people do not notice the “stun Gun ” comment part of my comment, nor the SC decision about a lack of “protection” by the same police.

    Justified? career cops ? Don’t think the victim cares either.
    here is the decision in part.,police%20have%20no%20specific%20obligation%20to%20protect.%20

    No, cops are trigger happy, and they will shot first . Remember the recent incident with the cop and the beanbag round, even their own had a problem with that. As you can also see a cop shot someone to answer the problem.
    I fear cops, as a non threatening, law abiding citizen, and Black man. I have had cops lie in court, had cops laugh at me for denying a speeding ticket ( you know income generation) and had more than one cop approach me with hand on gun, to me and many other we consider that a threat. I have seen cops shot unarmed men running away from them (body shot). I have had cops ignore me and ask my white wife of 30 years, “are you okay ma am” when pulled over for ” black while driving ” and that is a number I am sorry to say is in the dozens. Most days I avoid driving because of any and all cops looking for income generation. I have seen cops stand by as killers kill CHILDREN.

    Apparently with all the trans garbage we forget the various black men , unarmed who were killed by cops and started a riot over it, No I do not trust a cop and never have seen a reason to do so. Don’t care about how many years of “training”, he still by instinct (you know training) pulled out his gun and KILLED A MAN. I have training to shot at a target, to disable and I can split a playing card at 25yrd with of all things a pellet gun. Shooting is shooting, I can do the same with a standard rifle. Why can’t they. Yes I train for stimulus response and combat close quarters. No need to be shooting with so many other options available.

    Of all people Jim Carrey said in Batman forever, “Don’t kill him, that way he won’t learn nothin” . No lesson learned for a dead man.

    Is this why he was released from jail, so he could be executed. I am not impressed and I will handle my own protection as I have since I was old enough to defend myself.
    I have no personal problem with the cop but I don’t know him and really don’t want to, I do know he shop an unarmed man.
    If you all do not agree with me fine, you are not me and I am not you, I have a right to my opinion.

  9. I won’t be emotional in addressing this; it clouds the issue. I will, however, ask:

    Why was the now dead man dumped on the street after a long time in prison with a very obvious lack of resources?

    It has been remarkable to me that I am hearing very very little about illegals. You know, the unvetted people from God-knows-where who have been provided with free housing, food…well, you all get it. With the prevailing governmental effort to (yet again) stack the next election in their favor.

    Again: illegals who do NOT think like us, live like us. Who did NOT come here to be American, but rather to just suck up what they can. FREE.

    So what I am seeing is a refusal to address the obvious elephant in the state and/or country! What I am seeing is just way too many people PREFERRING to claw at each other rather than making the effort to speak AS COUNTRYMEN re: these very real fears. It appears to be way too scary to too many Vermonters.

    NO ONE is bringing up the increased, never before seen, crime erupting in Vermont!
    Let me bring this to the forefront: Those of us who capitulate to the subliminal divide and conquer strategy are contributing to our demise.

    It’s time to clear the head and be brave enough to face the deliberate demise of our once great nation. STOP fighting with each other. We NEED each other.

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