Updated at 7:32 p.m.
BURLINGTON — A former University of Vermont student fatally shot a current student and critically injured another person in an Old North End apartment early Monday morning before turning the gun on himself, according to police and school officials.
Mikal Dixon, a 27-year-old from New Hampshire who was formerly enrolled at UVM, broke into the apartment at 47 North Winooski Ave. through a window, Acting Police Chief Jon Murad said at a press conference Monday afternoon.
Using an AR-15 rifle, Dixon shot 22-year-old Kayla Noonan, a UVM student from New Jersey, and another 22-year-old woman who police have not identified, striking her multiple times, Murad said. Dixon subsequently shot and killed himself, the chief said.
Noonan was pronounced dead at the scene.
Murad said the unnamed victim suffered “serious, life altering injuries” and was in critical but stable condition at the University of Vermont Medical Center.
All three people involved in the shooting knew one another, Murad said, though Dixon and Noonan specifically had a relationship “going back several years.”
“This morning’s murder and attempted murder of two young women was a terrible act of violence — among the very worst the city’s seen in the last decade,” Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger said. “Our thoughts right now are very much with the surviving victim.”
Police said Monday they received “a number of calls” about the sound of gunfire at the first-floor North Winooski Avenue residence at around 2:30 a.m.
Upon arrival, officers spoke with the unnamed victim — whom police said lived at the residence — at the door while she was on the phone with an emergency dispatcher, Murad said. He said police could not initially get into the building through the door and broke a window to get inside.
Once inside, they found Noonan and Dixon both deceased, and the other woman “very close to death,” he said.
Dixon initially tried to break down the door of the residence, Murad said, before turning to the window.
Weinberger said Dixon’s family had “local roots,” noting that the 27-year-old attended Burlington High School a decade ago.
The chief added Dixon was known to police and had been arrested in the past, though only for “relatively low-level incidents,” such as retail theft and trespassing.
He also believes Dixon has had restraining orders taken out against him, though they are no longer in effect and did not involve either victim in Monday’s shooting. Police believe Dixon was legally allowed to purchase and possess a gun, the chief noted.
Police have recovered the AR-15 rifle they believe was used in the shooting, Murad said in the press release. At the press conference, he said Burlington police have “seen this kind of weapon before” in the city, but noted it was somewhat unusual.
The chief added that police “believe that all involved persons are accounted for,” and there is no additional danger to the public.
He said the investigation is in its earliest stages.
UVM President Suresh Garimella said in a statement Monday afternoon he was “deeply saddened” by the news that the school’s community was impacted by the shooting.
“My thoughts are with everyone impacted by this tragedy, especially families and other loved ones,” Garimella said.
Monday’s shooting marks the 18th gunfire incident in Burlington this year.
Burlington police distinguish between gunfire incidents and shootings; the latter indicates that someone has been struck. Murad said that as of Monday, the city has seen eight shootings in 2022.
The number of times guns were recklessly fired in the city this year is on a steep rise, data show. Acting Deputy Police Chief Wade Labrecque noted that Monday’s shooting appears to be unrelated to other recent gunfire incidents in the city.
Monday’s shooting was the second gunfire incident in the city this weekend, according to police. In a separate press release, officials said a man in his 40s was injured after being struck by a bullet just before midnight Saturday on Church Street.
He went to the emergency room at UVM Medical Center with a gunshot wound, but his injuries were not life-threatening, police said. Two “unknown males” fled the scene downtown in seperate directions after the shooting, according to police.
They did not release any additional information about the Saturday incident.
At around 9 a.m. Monday, the North Winooski Avenue building was blocked off by police tape, and a portion of the street remained closed. By midday, police reopened North Winooski Avenue to traffic, and the Vermont State Police Major Crime Unit had arrived on scene. Officials could be seen removing evidence from the apartment in plastic bags.
Police also loaded a live animal cage, which held a cat, into a Burlington Police Department vehicle, according to Burlington Police Lt. Jim Trieb, who was present at the scene. Trieb confirmed the cat lived in the apartment where the shooting took place.
Walkers and cyclists passed by the apartment, which is located in a highly trafficked area near the edge of downtown.
Residents who live near 47 North Winooski Ave. told VTDigger Monday morning they felt uneasy, particularly because of the increase in gun violence in the city this year. None heard the gunshots.
“It's unsettling to see,” said DJ Sejovic, who lives near the location of the shooting. “Burlington is a nice city, but it's tough to feel comfortable sometimes.”
Earlier this month, 21-year-old Hussein Mubarak was fatally shot in the head on Luck Street in the Old North End, roughly three-quarters of a mile from the shooting Monday. Police have named a person of interest in connection with the Luck Street shooting whom they arrested July 15 on unrelated charges.
Allen Parker said he lives two blocks from where Mubarak died July 7, and that he had coached Mubarak in Little League. He said he coaches at Roosevelt Park, where a different gunfire incident took place in June. In that incident, shrapnel from the gunfire wounded a former city council member.
“You have a ballgame going on over there, and the next thing you know, there's gunfire going on,” he said.
Parker, who said he’s lived in Burlington for more than 30 years, has “never seen it like it is now.”
Murad said at the press conference that he understands how Old North End residents may be concerned about the safety of their neighborhood, but he wants them to know that Monday’s shooting was “a very contained incident.”
“We are doing everything that we can, with what we've got, to make certain that we are living up to our obligation to work with the community to keep it safe,” he said.
Hilary Wailonson, a University of Vermont student who lives in the neighborhood where Monday’s shooting took place, moved to Burlington two months ago from a more rural area. Wailonson said she was prepared for a change when she moved to the city, but the frequent gunfire is beyond what she expected.
“I definitely don’t feel 100% safe,” Wailonson said.
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