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Vermonters urged to 'stand resolutely' against illegal drugs, gun violence


Bishop Christopher J. Coyne of Burlington, Vt., is pictured in an undated photo. The day after a Burlington man was arraigned in Vermont Superior Court in St. Albans for allegedly shooting a man in a Catholic church parking lot, Bishop Coyne issued a statement condemning illegal use of drugs as well as "any act of violence against any person." (CNS photo/Vermont Catholic magazine)

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ST. ALBANS, Vt. (CNS) -- The day after a Burlington man was arraigned in Vermont Superior Court in St. Albans for allegedly shooting a man in a Catholic church parking lot, the bishop of the statewide Diocese of Burlington issued a statement condemning illegal use of drugs as well as "any act of violence against any person."

Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne noted that the incident was reported to be connected to a "drug deal gone bad."

"The fact that the crime occurred in one of our parking lots appears to be a coincidence," he said.

Zakk Trombly, 22, of Burlington was arraigned Feb. 24 at Vermont Superior Court in St. Albans and pleaded not guilty to second-degree attempted murder, St. Albans police said.

He is accused of shooting Dustin Davenport, 22, of Richford in the head; Davenport remained hospitalized in critical condition.

"The shooting did take place on church property in a busy and dense neighborhood," Bishop Coyne said in his Feb. 25 statement. "People were out walking in the good weather. Children were making their way home from school. Normal parish and Vermont Catholic Charities business was taking place in the parish center when the six shots were fired."

No one else was struck by a bullet. "But anyone in the area has been 'struck' by violence, from those who tried to help and comfort the shooting victim, to the parents of the children on the street, to the neighbors whose quiet afternoon was suddenly punctuated by the sound of gunfire," he said. "For all of them, their neighborhood does not seem quite as safe as it once did."

St. Albans, with a population of about 7,000, is located in northern Vermont, about 30 miles from Burlington. It has two Catholic churches: The shooting took place in a parking lot at Holy Angels Church.

Bishop Coyne asked the Catholic community "to stand resolutely against gun violence and illegal drug use and to continue to support our law enforcement officials in carrying out their work as they serve the common good."

He urged people to be watchful in their neighborhoods and families for the signs of illegal drugs while at the same time being supportive of families who are dealing with addiction as well as those who are recovering from addiction.

"I offer my prayers for all whose lives have been impacted by the shooting, for the victim himself and for his recovery, yes, but also the other victims -- the neighbors, the workers, the parish staff, for all whose quiet day suddenly became one of turmoil and fear," the bishop said.

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Urban is content editor/staff reporter for Vermont Catholic, the magazine of the Diocese of Burlington.

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