St. J attempted murder a drug deal gone bad, court records say

by Guy Page

Tuesday’s shooting of a Barnet man by a Chicopee, Massachusetts man was a drug deal gone bad, according to court statements published in today’s Caledonian-Record.

The Vermont State Police has arrested two suspects in connection with the July 5 shooting of Nathan Smires in St. Johnsbury.

Felipe Cotto Jr., 40, of Chicopee, Massachusetts, is facing charges of attempted second-degree murder and aggravated assault for the shooting of Nathan Smires, 36, of Barnet in the Maplefields convenience store parking lot on Railroad Street.

Casey Jean Squires, 21, of Sheffield, is accused of being an accessory to those same charges. Police say she has housed and transported Cotto and other drug dealers.

The pair were arrested after members of the Vermont State Police including the Tactical Services Unit executed a search warrant Wednesday afternoon, July 6, at 1241 Mathewson Hill Rd. in Lyndon. Four others in the house were interviewed by detectives.

Investigators determined that the shooting occurred in the parking lot outside the store, and that the incident occurred due to a dispute between Cotto and Smires. All the individuals involved knew one another.

According to court statements reported by the Northeast Kingdom daily newspaper, Cotto and Squires met Smires, driving a car with three passengers, to sell him drugs. Cotto wanted to sell him heroin, but Smires wanted methamphetamines. Witnesses say a discussion ensued, and that Cotto then shot Smires because he had been “disrespected” – including being shorted by Smires on a previous deal.

Video surveillance footage shows Cotto firing a gun at Smires as he’s driving away.

Smires, 36, of Barnet was initially brought to Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital in St. Johnsbury and later transferred to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, for treatment of life-threatening injuries.

Cotto was ordered jailed without bail, while Squires was held for lack of $25,000 cash or surety. Cotto refused to appear for his arraignment, according to media reports.

Squires is a former licensed nurses aide (LNA), holding an expired Colorado license. Smires has a criminal record – he was arrested March 22 this year on Railroad St. in St. Johnsbury on an active warrant and lodged at the correctional facility for lack of $500 bail. He was found in violation of court-ordered condidtions of release in 2019.

Categories: Crime

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