MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A 32-year-old robbery suspect shot to death by police on the grounds of a high school was carrying a BB gun, police said Wednesday.
Police said Nathan Giffin robbed the nearby Vermont State Employees Credit Union at about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday and, when spotted by police, went into the school's athletic field bleachers. State police and crisis negotiators tried unsuccessfully to negotiate with him for 50 minutes before the shooting.
Students at Montpelier High School were locked down during the incident.
"Yesterday was scary and stressful," Montpelier School Superintendent Brian Ricca said Wednesday. "Today is just sad. The reality of the gravity of the situation is settling in."
Ricca said that at one time Giffin, of Essex, was a student in the Montpelier school system, although he did not graduate.
Police on Wednesday identified the eight members of the state police tactical team and one Montpelier Police Department officer who opened fire just after 11 a.m. Tuesday about 185 yards (170 meters) from the high school. Police have not said how many rounds were fired or how many times Giffin was hit.
The shooting is being investigated by the Vermont State Police Major Crimes Unit. The results of the investigation will be turned over to the Vermont Attorney General and Washington County State's Attorney to determine if the officers were justified in the use of deadly force. They have been placed on paid administrative leave, as is typical for police-involved shootings.
Police said after the robbery, a school police officer saw Giffin walking down a bike path behind the high school. When the officer called out to Giffin he "took a position on the athletic field bleachers," police said.
During the attempted negotiations, police said Giffin made threatening statements, including suicidal statements, and ignored repeated orders to drop his gun.
In video of the incident taken by a local television station Giffin can be seen holding what appears to be a handgun.
Police haven't said what prompted officers to fire. Giffin was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Authorities said Giffin's criminal history dated to 2002.