The people of Moriah overwhelmingly support their local police department. At least that’s the impression Supervisor Tom Scozzafava received at the September town board meeting.
At noon on Oct. 4, a male identifying himself as George Demarais, 57, of Middlebury called 9-1-1 and said he “wanted to die via suicide by cop” and that he would be in the woods 150 yards behind his home.
According to a release by Chief of Police Thomas Hanley of the Middlebury Police Department, immediate attempts were made by officers of the Middlebury Police Department to reach Demarais by phone. The calls were unanswered. Police responded to the area to locate Demarais and were unable to determine if he was in his home or not. Concurrent investigation determined Demarais lived in the home alone. Due to the threat of “suicide by cop” officers were placed in a perimeter around the visible front of the home, pending repeat efforts to contact Demarais.
Late in the afternoon, Demarais come out of the home carrying a long gun and approached Case Street. Sgt. Jason Covey called to him and asked him to drop the gun and attempted to speak with him. Demarais turned and walked around to the rear of the home toward the woods carrying the gun.
Officers later located Demarais on a steep slope behind the home when he began firing at them. There was an exchange of gunfire, during which Covey made further efforts to convince Demarais to surrender. Demarais continued firing and in the exchange of gunfire Demarais suffered a fatal wound. It is unknown at this time if the wound was self inflicted or caused by police gunfire.
During the attempt to locate and contain Demarais, Case Street (Route 116) was closed between Cobble Road and Quarry Road for several hours.
The investigation of the incident was turned over to the Vermont State Police under the auspices of the Addison County State’s Attorney.