UPDATED: Armed fugitive survives being shot by state police overnight in Rockingham

ROCKINGHAM - A Bellows Falls man who was actively being sought by police following a set of aggravated assaults that had taken place in recent days was injured overnight when he was confronted and shot by police at a residence in Rockingham.

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    In a press release issued Saturday morning, the Vermont State Police said that during the manhunt overnight in the Bellows Falls area for an individual accused of several aggravated assaults, the Vermont State Police encountered the suspect, John-Victor Wetherby, at 22 Cota Heights Road in Rockingham.

    Preliminary investigation indicates the suspect was armed, police said, adding that during the ensuing confrontation, a member of the state police fired his weapon at Wetherby, who was struck and injured.

     Wetherby, 33, of Bellows Falls was transported to Springfield Hospital, where he was treated and then released into the custody of law enforcement.

    No state troopers, nor any members of the Bellows Falls Police Department, who were also on the scene at the time of the 12:30 a.m. incident, nor other individuals were harmed during the encounter, police said, adding at an investigation into the officer-involved shooting is in its earliest stages by the Vermont State Police Major Crime Unit and Bureau of Criminal Investigations.

    "Per policy, the trooper involved has been placed on paid administrative leave for a minimum of five days, and then the member will return to work on administrative duty status. The trooper’s name is being withheld at this time, as is standard practice. The state police investigation will be independently reviewed by the Vermont Attorney General’s Office and the Windham County State’s Attorney’s Office to determine whether the use of force was appropriate," the press release said.

    Wetherby is the suspect in an aggravated assault that occurred about 1 p.m. Friday, March 8, on Hyde Street in Bellows Falls.

    Wetherby also had a warrant for his arrest outstanding on suspicion of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and violation of probation from the Windham County Sheriff’s Department.


    As the investigation continues into this morning’s officer-involved shooting in Rockingham, John-Victor Wetherby has been taken to the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield and jailed on warrants for aggravated assault, and for violation of probation arising from a 2018 conviction for reckless endangerment.

    The probation warrant requires that Wetherby is jailed without bail. The Bellows Falls Police Department is continuing its investigation, as well, into the assault on Hyde Street on Friday, March 8. Charges related to these incidents are expected to be filed as early as Monday, March 11.

     State police investigators have learned that, following the aggravated assault on Hyde Street, Mr. Wetherby left the scene on foot and made his way to Cota Heights Road, where he broke into a vacant home located at 22 Cota Heights Road.
    Bellows Falls and state police, with the help of K-9s, successfully tracked Mr. Wetherby to the house. He was located in a bedroom and proceeded to point a firearm at a trooper, who in response discharged his service weapon multiple times.
    Mr. Wetherby suffered a single graze-type wound and was immediately taken into custody and rendered medical assistance. The exact number of shots fired and additional details regarding the confrontation remain under investigation. Charges against Mr. Wetherby related to the encounter with police are expected pending further investigation and consultation with the Windham County State’s Attorney’s Office.
    An updated mug shot of Mr. Wetherby was taken following his arrest this morning: 

Vermont News can be contacted at vermontnews802@gmail.com

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