A 35-year-old man died of a gunshot wound after a shooting Thursday afternoon at the Occupy Burlington encampment in Vermont, the city’s mayor said.
Multiple people, including an Occupy Burlington organizer, told the Burlington Free Press they believe the gunshot was self-inflicted.
A hospital spokesman also confirmed the man’s death, but would not provide additional details, the Free Press reported.
Police said they are still investigating the circumstances surrounding the shooting, but said Thursday afternoon they recovered the weapon and there is no danger to the public.
Burlington Deputy Police Chief Andi Higbee said officers received a 911 call a little after 2 p.m. about a discharged firearm in the park.
A motionless man was removed from a green tent where blood was evident around 2:20 p.m., according to the Free Press.
Higbee would not confirm whether the shooting was self-inflicted, but said it occurred either inside or near one of the tents.
Higbee said the victim has been identified but his name will not be released until his family has been notified. He is believed to be a local resident.
The encampment was cordoned off with police tape Thursday afternoon, and Higbee said it would likely be at least several hours before the tape would be taken down.
Law enforcement officials applied for a warrant to go inside the tent “of interest” for further investigation, he said.
City regulations prohibit firearms in City Hall Park where Occupy Burlington has been stationed since Oct 28.
“It certainly gives us cause for concern. Our responsibility is to keep the public safe,” Higbee said. “When you have a discharge of a firearm in a place like this it gives good cause to be gravely concerned.”
Protesters were seen consoling one another in the hours after the shooting, hugging and holding hands.
“He was my buddy,” Joe Edwards, of Burlington, told the Associated Press of the victim.
Edwards said the victim has been at the encampment for about a week but said he did not know full name.
Hayley Mason, also of Burlington, identified the victim by the first name Josh and said he’d been at the encampment for the last several days.
“I don’t know a lot about his personality. He loves the outdoors. He’s been a member of our community,” she said.
The city had threatened to evict the protesters because the park is closed from midnight until 6 a.m., but city officials made special accommodations for them, the Associated Press reported.
Wednesday night protesters were treated to a concert by internationally known gypsy punk musicians from Gogol Bordello, according to the Free Press.