Former Burlington City Councilor David Berezniak (left) was struck in the head by gunfire shrapnel Sunday night while sitting in his backyard near Roosevelt Park, the scene of of the gunfire. He was treated and released.
By Guy Page
A day after a former Burlington city councilor was struck in the head by gunfire shrapnel in his own backyard, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger demanded the City Council and other authorities help Burlington police stop the shooting spree in the state’s largest city.
According to a VT Digger news report, Democrat David Berezniak, a Ward 2 councilor from 2008-2012 endorsed by the socialist Green Democratic Alliance, was sitting in his backyard near Roosevelt Park in the Old North End at about 7 pm Sunday when he and two people with him heard shots fired. A moment later he felt like someone had hit his head with a rock. He was treated for injuries at the hospital and released hours later.
The “gunfire incident” was the 12th in Burlington this year, compared to 14 all last year – and summer hasn’t even begun. City Councilors, especially Progressives, have downplayed the city’s growing violent crime problem. Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger issued this statement Monday:
“Gunfire incidents in Burlington are dangerous, illegal, and unacceptable. The individuals who are putting themselves and the public at risk through these reckless shootings should be on notice that the City is doing everything in its power to hold them accountable and stop now. To fully protect the public from gun violence, the BPD also needs action from other law enforcement agencies, the City Council, and state and federal lawmakers. Later this week, Chief [Jon] Murad and I will further detail both the BPD’s efforts to reduce gun incidents and the actions we need from partners.”
Burlington Police Department will need outside help because it is understaffed, with just 68 officers in a department requiring 85 for a full roster. The nationwide police shortage, antipathy against police in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing two years ago, and the City Council’s own decision to reduce police funding all have contributed to the shortage.
It is not known yet what steps Weinberger and Murad will take, or how they expect the City Council and other authorities to help. Offering cash awards for information may one of them. BPD is offering a substantial reward for information about a May 23 City Hall Park shooting.
The June 6 Burlington Police Department press release announcing the reward offers these details of the incident:
Officers arrived on scene and provided immediate medical aid to the person with a bullet wound. He was bleeding from his head. He was transported to the UVM Medical Center with a bullet wound channel that spanned between the back of his neck to his ear. His prognosis is good that he will recover.
Initial investigation determined that this person and another engaged in a shootout that left bullet holes in the store front window of Burton Snowboard and Community Bank, both located on College St. There was also a bullet hole in the newly erected public restroom in City Hall Park. Another bullet shattered a window at the Flynn Theater.
During the shootout, bullets barely missed a pregnant female who was in close proximity of one of the shooters. Also, there were several people sitting on the steps of City Hall, who ducked and reported bullets flying past them.
After the shooting, the other gunman fled the scene. That person is described as a white male and a video clip of him is attached. Further, there were two black males who were also present and fled the scene.
Weinberger could pointedly ask Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George to hold shooters in jail upon arrest, and prosecute them promptly, and seek stiff sentences. George is facing an August 9 primary challenge from Williston lawyer Ted Kenney.