Crime and Justice

Knife-wielding intruder attacks Vermont labor commissioner and family

Michael Harrington, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Labor, speaks at a press conference with U.S. Rep. Peter Welch in 2020. File photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Updated at 6:33 p.m.

A man broke into the Northfield home of Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington on Tuesday night, threatening him and his family with a knife. 

David Young, 32, was transported to Central Vermont Medical Center following the incident after 9 p.m. Tuesday, and was later released to appear in court the next day, according to a Northfield Police press release. After he returned home, Young died by suicide, Northfield Police Chief John Helfant said. 

In a statement, Harrington confirmed his and his family’s safety, asking for privacy.

“My family and I would like to thank those who continue to reach out in support, concerning an incident that occurred at our home on the evening of July 26th,” Harrington wrote, going on to thank the first responders on the scene. 

“We would also like to take this opportunity to emphasize the importance of readily available mental health services for those in need, especially our nation’s veterans,” he added. “The individual who showed up at our door Tuesday night was not the man we knew before that evening. Any other day of the week, he was a kind and gentle soul, and only now, after all of this, have we learned that he was a combat veteran experiencing a mental health crisis.”

Northfield police did not immediately name the victims in the incident, which was first reported by the Vermont Daily Chronicle. Scott’s press secretary, Jason Maulucci, confirmed Harrington’s involvement.

“Governor Scott has been briefed on this tragic situation and details are still being gathered. He is grateful that Commissioner Harrington and members of his household are okay,” Maulucci said via email. 

Northfield police were “dispatched to a residence on Crescent Avenue for a reported burglary and assault,” according to the release, adding that “Young forced his way into a residence and attempted to attack a family with a knife.” 

Helfant told the Chronicle that the homeowner — ostensibly Harrington — “subdued, held down, and sat on Young, without aid of weapon or injury to himself.” Helfant later confirmed that series of events to VTDigger.

Gov. Phil Scott appointed Harrington labor commissioner in June 2020. Harrington had been serving as interim commissioner since September 2019.

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Ethan Weinstein

About Ethan

Ethan Weinstein is a general assignment reporter focusing on Windsor County and the surrounding area. Previously, he worked as an assistant editor for the Mountain Times and wrote for the Vermont Standard.

Email: [email protected]

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