An investigation is underway into what led up to a murder, an attempted murder, and a suicide early Monday morning in Burlington, Vermont.
Police said 27-year-old Mikal Dixon shot two 22-year-old women inside an apartment on North Winooski Avenue before killing himself.
One of the women, University of Vermont student Kayla Noonan, died. The other 22-year-old, whom police declined to identify, survived but suffered what investigators described as life-altering injuries.
The president of the University of Vermont, Suresh Garimella, released a statement Monday about Noonan’s death. In it, Garimella said Dixon was a previously-enrolled UVM student.
"My thoughts are with everyone impacted by this tragedy, especially families and other loved ones," the UVM president wrote in a message to the campus community and beyond. "I ask you to join with me in supporting and caring for one another in the wake of this tragedy."
Acting Chief Jon Murad of the Burlington Police Department revealed his department took a short-barreled AR-15-style gun from the scene.
Several people in the area of North Winooski Avenue expressed worry and anxiety over seeing a crime scene investigated so close to home.
"I guess fearful is my overwhelming feeling," said a Burlington resident named Shai who lives close to the shooting scene.
"When it comes to safety, it’s like, tonight when I come out and have my dinner and drinks with my friends, is this something I’m going to have to think about now?" said J.D. Fultz, who was back visiting the neighborhood she moved away from several years ago— where she said she always felt safe. "That’s disturbing."
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"To hear at work — my coworkers were talking about it — somebody was literally murdered, yeah, it makes you sick," said Natalie Senior, who lives a block away from the scene of the violence.
At a late-afternoon press conference, police and city leaders said all three people knew each other, and that the violence was contained to that apartment.
"This is an incident that does not have further implications on the immediate safety of the public or of that neighborhood," Murad said in response to a question from NECN & NBC10 Boston. "Does that mean that it doesn’t affect how people feel in the neighborhood in which they live? Of course not. Of course it does affect how they feel. And we take that very seriously."
Mayor Miro Weinberger, D-Burlington, joined Murad in expressing deep sympathy to the family of the victims. The mayor noted the suspected gunman was a Burlington High School student just a decade ago.
"This incident is another awful reminder that Burlington is not immune to the steep increases in gun violence the country is experiencing," the mayor added. "And that as a result of our disastrous gun laws, Americans are vastly more likely to have to endure terrible tragedies like this than any comparable nation."
Police say they are still investigating the nature of the relationship between Dixon, Noonan, and the surviving female victim. The living victim’s statements will be critical to understanding what happened, investigators indicated.
If you or someone you know needs help, please contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling 988, call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting ‘Home’ to 741741, anytime.