A transient fighting in City Hall Park in Burlington on Thursday has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after police said he pulled a knife on someone who tried to intervene.
The case is the latest in a series of violent incidents downtown this year.
Police said John C. Tubbs was intoxicated and trying to start a fight with several people at the park at about 10 a.m. He was wrestling with one man when Todd “Highway” Sicca of Winooski tried to break up the fight. According to police, Tubbs and Sicca then started fighting and Sicca pulled out a small knife “in an attempt to protect himself.” At that point, police said Tubbs pulled out a large knife and raised it over his head “in a threatening manner.”
When police arrived, they said, Tubbs dropped the knife, which they recovered.
Tubbs, 27, pleaded innocent to charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Sicca, 56, was not injured, police said.
Tubbs was released on conditions after appearing before Judge Nancy Waples in Chittenden Superior Court, according to a court clerk. A hearing was set for Oct. 20.
City Hall Park and other parts of downtown Burlington, including the Church Street Marketplace, have been the site of numerous altercations and violent crimes this year, the most recent a near fatal stabbing in August near the park that involved two transients. Also in August, an allegedly intoxicated transient punched a restaurant owner in the chest, causing him to fall into a table and chairs before hitting the floor. In March, a fatal stabbing occurred on Church Street.
Prior to the stabbings, downtown merchants near Church and Main streets have been asking the city for help and police have been trying to get a handle on the problem. Chief Brandon del Pozo recommended creating a criminal penalty for those who rack up and ignore violations like public urination and drinking in public or other “quality of life” infractions. City councilors recently agreed to draft a new ordinance for those that don’t pay their civil fines, despite concerns the new law would be used to target homeless people.
In response to Thursday’s incident, del Pozo told VTDigger: “People may disagree about what to do about it, but drunken altercations are a real problem downtown and it’s not fair to the people who want to use and enjoy this civic space.”