Nathan Giffin was involved in significant incident with Hartford Police
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - The bank robber who was shot dead Tuesday morning on a snow covered athletic field outside Montpelier High School began his long series of run-ins with law enforcement in White River Junction back in 2002 when he was just 17 years old.
Nathan Lee Giffin, 32, died in a hail of gunfire shortly before noon on Tuesday after eight members of a state police tactical team and a Montpelier police officer all opened fire on Giffin after officials said he refused to comply with orders to drop a large silver handgun that he was holding.
Witnesses told police that Giffin had just robbed a state employee credit union that sits directly across the street from the entrance to Montpelier High School.
After Griffin's dramatic standoff and his sudden death on school grounds shocked the city and made headlines across the state, news agencies pointed out that Giffin had a criminal record that stretched back a decade-and-a-half to 2002 and included multiple felony convictions for burglaries and a 2010 bank robbery in Williamstown.
Prior to Tuesday's events, Giffin had been in the news over the holidays after tipsters called police and identified him as the Christmas Day burglar seen breaking into the Williston Walmart and the local Toys-R-Us store on surveillance video that was shared with the public.
The first entries on Giffin's lengthy state and federal criminal record date from September of 2002 when he pleaded innocent to a felony charge of possession of heroin and accompanying misdemeanor charges of possession of cocaine and resisting arrest.
At the time, Hartford Police said that Giffin, who back then listed an address on Ledgewood Terrace in Montpelier, had been riding in the rear passenger seat of a car that belonged to him when he and two suspected drug dealers drove down from Barre to the McDonalds restaurant just off the highway interchanges in White River Junction for a pre-arranged drug transaction.
The deal fell apart when the trio panicked after spotted a police cruiser driven by Hartford Police Officer (and now sergeant) Karl Ebbighausen. They drove past the restaurant and then a minute later made a strangely wide and fast turn into the Chambers trailer park off Sykes Mountain Avenue in an apparent effort to try and shake the cruiser that was still behind them.
Suspecting something was amiss, Ebbighausen followed the car into the park and began questioning the "extremely nervous" occupants only to have the two black males in the front seats suddenly bolt from the car on foot, leaving a trail of drug baggies behind them as they fled towards downtown White River Junction. Ebbighausen briefly gave chase and radioed for back up before returning to the suspects car which, he wrote at the time, Giffin had gotten behind the wheel of and had turned around in an effort to flee back to the main road.
Ebbighausen wrote in his report that he was right in front of the windshield and had to draw his gun and give a "final command" to Giffin before the teen finally stopped driving the car directly at him. Giffin was ordered out of the car and onto the ground where he was taken into custody.
Police said that Giffin later told detectives that the two men he was with had brought down a large amount of crack cocaine that they had been planning to sell to a contact of theirs in the parking lot of the fast food restaurant before the sight of the police cruiser gave them cold feet. In addition to finding baggies of crack, police reported finding 70 bags of heroin in the car, which at that time was quite a large bust for the area.
Additional police officers from Hartford, Norwich, Lebanon and Hanover converged on downtown White River Junction along with Probation officers who were nearby and, with the help of a police canine, they soon took both of the men who fled from the traffic stop into custody, finding one of them as he tried to talk his way into a home on Nutt Lane to use a phone and the other walking across the railroad trestle linking downtown White River with neighboring Lebanon, New Hampshire.
Nathan Giffin, seen in this 2015 Willison Police mugshot, had been sentenced in 2012 to two years in federal prison for bank robbery followed by three years of supervised release for the 2010 robbery of the Randolph National Bank branch in Williamstown
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