Public Safety

Man arrested at the Vermont Statehouse after threatening House speaker

Jill Krowinski
Rep. Jill Krowinski, D-Burlington, addresses her colleagues at the Statehouse in Montpelier on Jan. 6. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Updated at 7:03 p.m.

A man who allegedly came to the Statehouse with a gun in his car and threatened the speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives on Tuesday has been arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Neither House Speaker Jill Krowinski, D-Burlington, nor the Capitol Police identified the individual in communications describing the incident. But Washington County State’s Attorney Rory Thibault said the man in question was Kyle Wolfe, a Williston resident.

“The state has determined that there's a basis to initiate a criminal proceeding and has filed charges in this matter,” Thibault said.

Wolfe called, emailed and visited the Speaker’s office repeatedly in the past to complain about things as varied as abortion rights and substance use disorder, Krowinski said in an interview Friday. 

But his tone has gotten “more aggressive” in recent months, she said, and recent emails that referenced “owning a gun, being trained, and wanting to hold people committing treason accountable” prompted her to alert Capitol Police. His messages also indicated that he would be coming to the Statehouse on Tuesday.

The speaker was out of the building and police were on alert when Wolfe arrived at the Sergeant-at-Arms’ office in the Statehouse lobby Tuesday morning, demanding to speak to her.

Wolfe was “yelling and screaming,” Capitol Police Chief Matthew Romei said in an interview Friday. Romei said Wolfe could be heard from the building’s second floor.

“Really, his communication was very disjointed and bizarre,” Romei said.

Wolfe resisted attempts to de-escalate the situation, Romei said, and officers ultimately used force to subdue him. Neither Wolfe nor the officers were injured, according to police. 

The man made reference to having a gun in his car during the altercation, according to police, and his car was subsequently seized and searched. A muzzleloader rifle was discovered, although the weapon was not loaded, Romei said.

Wolfe was screened by Washington County Mental Health and admitted to a secure medical facility under a mental health warrant, Capitol Police said.

“We take it incredibly seriously when there are threats against state government employees or our leadership in state government,” Thibault said. “From our perspective, this case highlights the continued need for robust services and appropriate interventions when threats like this become apparent.”

Despite a prior criminal conviction that would prevent Wolfe from owning most types of guns, Romei said it appeared that Wolfe’s possession of the firearm was legal.

“Muzzleloaders, by default, are considered antique weapons, even though this was anything but an antique,” he said. He noted exemptions in state and federal laws around possession of such weapons by people who are otherwise forbidden from owning firearms. 

A policy currently prohibits guns at the Statehouse, although this is not enshrined in law. Lawmakers last session considered whether to ban firearms in public buildings performing “essential government functions,” as well as child care facilities and hospitals. But the bill that ultimately passed the Senate was watered down to just prohibit guns in hospitals and was never taken up by the House.

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