Orleans County search linked to Caledonia County homicide

Slain man, Gunnar Watson, 27
Photo courtesy the National Gun Violence Memorial site

by Mike Donoghue

BROWNINGTON – Vermont State Police have conducted a court-ordered search in Brownington in connection with the fatal shooting of a Vermont Army National Guard member at his home on Vermont 16 in Wheelock two weeks ago.

Police offered few comments about the major presence of detectives and crime scene technicians with marked and unmarked police vehicles on Friday at the two-story home and surrounding property on Chapdelaine Road off Hinman Settler Road in the Orleans County town of just over 1,000 residents.

Investigators are trying to learn more about the fatal shooting that killed Gunnar Watson, 27, in the doorway of his residence about 6 a.m. Monday Oct. 16.

One report indicated Watson had started his vehicle and had gone back in the front door when he was apparently shot from a hidden location.

A woman at the house called Vermont State Police to report the dead man at the scene.  Troopers responded along with rescue crews from Glover and Hardwick.

Vermont State Police closed off Vermont 16 between Taylor Road and Runaway Pond to all traffic for over 4 hours as uniform troopers and detectives conducted the preliminary investigation.  The Major Crime Unit, which has been busy this month with seven possible homicides, was called into the case.

The body was taken to the office of Vermont’s Chief Medical Examiner in Burlington where an autopsy showed Watson died from a gunshot wound to the torso.  The doctor said she determined it was a homicide, state police said.

Police have been conducting their usual traces of the victim’s connections and for anybody with a possible motive to harm Watson.  Detectives from the Major Crime Unit and Bureau of Criminal Investigations have spoken with witnesses and nearby residents to learn more about the family and the neighborhood.

They also hoped to find any possible area video, including doorbell security footage and game cameras on Vermont 16 and on neighboring roads, especially in the hours leading up to the fatal shooting, but also on the days leading up to the fatal shooting.

Investigators believe it is a targeted incident and unrelated to a half dozen other homicide victims in Vermont since Oct. 5.  At least 6 of the 7 victims had fatal gunshot wounds.

The first victim, an elderly woman, was shot and stabbed in Castleton on Oct. 5, followed by a Hartford, Conn. man shot in Newport Town on Oct. 14.  Two young Massachusetts men were found fatally shot Oct. 24 & 25 in Eden and they were believed to have been dumped off the side of the road.  A woman was found in the town of Washington on Oct. 25, but no cause of death has been released, pending toxicology results.  A 42-year-old Barre man was found in the town of Plainfield on Friday and the cause of death was a gunshot wound.

Watson left behind a wife, Aubrie St. Louis, and two sons, Leo, 5 years-old and Arthur, 14 months-old.

A Go Fund Page was created for the Watson-St. Louis Family with a $10,000 goal to provide support and cover future expenses. As of mid-afternoon Sunday, 200 donors had provided over $31,300, including one anonymous donor for $7,500.

Categories: Crime