On Sunday, December 2, 2001 at approximately 10:00am, Robert A. Woodward, age 37, entered the All Souls Church located in the West Village Meeting House in Brattleboro, VT. Mr. Woodward was recently residing in Bellows Falls, VT and was not a member of the All Souls congregation. There were reportedly between 60-75 men, women and children in the church when Mr. Woodward entered the church.
Mr. Woodward approached the podium and made statements to the congregation. He also passed out blank checks, some of which had written statements on the back. At this point, members of the congregation escorted approximately 15 children into the parking lot.
One member of the congregation used his cellular telephone to contact the Brattleboro Police Department and informed the police dispatcher that the church had an unwanted subject. Adult members of the congregation started to leave and Mr. Woodward became upset with this. He reportedly became agitated and pulled out a knife and held it to his eye. This information was passed on toe the Brattleboro Police Officers headed to the church.
Mr. Woodward requested a cellular telephone to make telephone calls. A member of the congregation engaged Mr. Woodward in conversation and placed several calls for Mr. Woodward. Mr. Woodward put the knife away at some point. A member of the congregation requested that the remaining members of the congregation leave and Mr. Woodward then took the knife out again.
Officers Terrance Parker, William Davies, and Marshall Holbrook of the Brattleboro Police Department arrived at approximately 10:15am and entered the church. Officers Holbrook and Parker discharged their service pistols when they believed their safety and members of the congregation's safety was threatened. Officer Davies did not discharge his service pistol.
Approximately 15-20 members of the congregation remained in the church at the time of the shooting.
Officers called for an ambulance for Mr. Woodward. Mr. Woodward was transported to Brattleboro Memorial Hospital and was eventually airlifted by DHART to the Dartmouth Medical Center. While undergoing surgery Mr. Woodward died shortly before 2:00pm.
Brattleboro Police contacted the Office of the Windham County State's Attorney. State's Attorney Dan M. Davis responded to the scene of the shooting. After consulting with Deputy Chief John Martin, Davis contacted Vermont State Police and Sgt. Reginald Trayah from the Shaftsbury office was assigned to lead the investigation. Other VSP detectives from southern Vermont were called in to assist with the investigation. The church was secured overnight and members of the Forensic Laboratory are processing the scene at this time.
An autopsy is currently being performed in Burlington, VT by Dr. Paul Morrow, Chief Medical Examiner.
All three officer's service pistols as well as Mr. Woodward's knife have been secured for examination by the Department of Public Safety's Forensic Laboratory. At present, it appears that one officer discharged four rounds of ammunition and one discharged three rounds.
Investigation is continuing at this time.