CAMBRIDGE, VT - Vermont State Police have identified Jonathan Martel, 40, of Stowe, as the suspect killed in a police pursuit in Cambridge earlier this week.
Based on evidence at the scene of the shooting, police believe Martel may have used his cell phone as if it was a weapon to possibly induce the officer to shoot.
At a press conference Tuesday, Col. Tom L'Esperance said Martel was sought in connection with a possible attempted burglary in Johnson. Lamoille County Sheriff's deputies responded to a call by Joseph Carpenter who reported that a man, later believed to be Martel, had attempted to burglarize the home of Carpenter's father. Carpenter attempted to confront the man, but the suspect left in a black Jetta with Florida plates.
Deputies located Martel's vehicle and pursued him down RT 15, eventually losing track of him. Deputies then contacted the Vermont State Police for help.
Around 12:33 PM, state troopers received a call from a resident on Westman Road who reported a suspicious black vehicle in the neighbor's driveway. Police responded and found Martel's vehicle in the driveway, abandoned. Using a K9 unit, a state trooper and a Lamoille County deputy tracked Martel through the woods while another trooper set up a perimeter along St. Pauli Hafenstrabe Road.
While setting up the perimeter, the trooper, Dustin Robinson, encountered the suspect. Trooper Robinson ordered Martel to stop. According to Robinson, Martel then turned, appeared to be fidgeting with his waistband, then faced the trooper in a "shooters type stance" and pointed a metallic looking object toward the trooper. Robinson fired seven rounds toward Martel, who turned and ran. Robinson chased Martel and regained visual of the suspect. Again, Robinson ordered Martel to stop, and again Martel turned in a "shooters type stance" and pointed a metallic object at the trooper.
Believing the object was a gun, Trooper Robinson fired a single round and shot Martel. After Martel fell to the ground, Robinson called for an ambulance and attempted to administer first aid. At that time, Robinson noticed that Martel was holding a cell phone. Robinson said that when he questioned Martel about why Martel had pointed the cell phone at Robinson, Martel said, "I wanted to die."
Martel died in the ambulance on the way to Fletcher Allen Medical Center.
Per policy, Trooper Robinson has been put on leave pending an investigation.
Police reported that they did not know if anything had been stolen during the initial burglary, but the Lamoille County Sheriff's Department is investigating that incident.
"We will await the completion of the investigation and the review from Lamoille County State's Attorney's Office and the Attorney General's before drawing any conclusions about yesterday's events," said Col. L'Esperance. "The vital decision to use deadly force is something that will stay with our trooper, throughout his career. And we will provide support to our member, as needed."