and Alan J. Keyes, VTDigger.org
Shelburne Police have arrested a man wanted after making threats to state employees in Williston and Burlington, prompting heightened security at state offices in those locations Thursday.
Police arrested Malachi Buswell, 34, around 11 a.m., according to Officer Bob Lake.
Lake said Buswell was previously known to police in Shelburne. When an alert to be on the lookout for him was issued on Wednesday, “we started working our sources,” Lake said.
Shelburne police had a tip that Buswell may have been visiting someone at Harbor Place on Shelburne Road.
Officers went to the motel Thursday morning, located Buswell, and arrested him without incident, Lake said. Along with Lake, Shelburne Police Chief Aaron Noble and Lt. Allen Fortin apprehended the man.
Buswell was jailed at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington, Lake said.
On Wednesday, state officials announced they would have armed security for Thursday at state office buildings in Burlington and Williston. The Burlington location houses the Department of Corrections Probation and Parole and the Williston facility is home to offices for the state Department for Children and Families.
Buswell reportedly made threats against those facilities over a child custody issue.
VTDigger obtained an email reportedly from Buswell containing threats he made to corrections and DCF offices in which he wrote about “not allowing them to take my daughter.”
That email stated, “They are about to learn that one man can take out 3 state building and all their employees while sitting in his pos (sic) office.”
Another email sent to staff at probation and parole on Wednesday said that Buswell failed to show for a parole revocation hearing earlier Wednesday at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility.
In announcing plans for increased security for Thursday, Agency of Human Services Secretary Al Gobeille described the threats from Buswell as “not aimed any particular person.”
Thursday, armed sheriff’s deputies were on site at both buildings; each has about 30 employees, Gobeille said.
“We take these matters very seriously and as soon we hear any threat of violence we react swiftly and try to get protection for folks who need it,” he said. “As we’ve seen these issues are real and serious and can never be taken lightly.”
In August 2015, state social worker Lara Sobel was fatally shot outside the state DCF office in Barre by Jody Herring, who was upset over losing custody of her daughter. Herring has since been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for killing Sobel as well as three of Herring’s own relatives.
The Wednesday email to state employees alerting them of the situation said that there were two arrest warrants for Buswell – one from the parole board and “by Burlington” for violating an abuse prevention order.
The threatening email purportedly from Buswell stated: “They are about to learn that one man can take out 3 state building and all their employees while sitting in his pos (sic) office.” It went on to state: “I’m taking everyone of them to my grave with me.”
Steve Howard, Vermont State Employee Association executive director, said Wednesday evening that the situation calls attention to the fact that many state facilities are still in need of security upgrades, an effort begun after Sobel’s killing. In most cases, he said, members of the public can walk right into state buildings.
“The pace of which state government has moved to secure employees and the worksites they work in has been a snail’s pace,” Howard said.
He also suggested that probation officers should be armed with guns, citing the dangerous encounters they are involved in daily in their jobs.