Gun Student Denies Trying to Kill Firearms Instructor at Range

Veronica Lewis was charged with attempted first-degree murder.

A central Vermont woman denied trying to kill a firearms instructor whom police said she sought out for knowledge of how guns work.

Investigators said Veronica Lewis, 31, left her Worcester therapeutic group home for people with mental illness and emotional stress, and traveled to Westford for firearms training. While court paperwork indicates she had a normal class at a range there Friday, her second class Monday ended, police said, with Lewis shooting instructor Darryl Montague twice in the face and once in the upper abdomen.

Midday Tuesday, Montague, 48, was listed in critical condition at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington. He is a licensed and experienced firearms safety trainer.

Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan said Lewis has a long list of past convictions out of New York State, which includes convictions that bar her federally from even possessing or purchasing a handgun.

“We don’t know if she disclosed that to the victim,” Donovan said Tuesday. “We don’t know what procedures were in place in terms of asking those questions. Those are questions we still need to ask and get answers to.”

Court papers show at the residential treatment home, Lewis had asked about target shooting as a way to deal with aggression, something the center did not support. Lewis later allegedly lied to people at the home about having a job interview before she went to Montague’s shooting range.

Police say when they arrested Lewis, she had her instructor’s gun in her handbag, loaded and ready to fire.

In court, Lewis’s defense attorney entered a plea of not guilty on a charge of attempted first-degree murder, which carries a potential life sentence in prison if she is convicted. Judge Samuel Hoar ordered Lewis jailed without bail until a weight of the evidence hearing.

Darryl Montague is a very active member of the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs. That group released a statement saying, “Our thoughts and prayers are with Darryl, his immediate family and his extended Federation family… We wish Darryl a swift and full recovery.” 

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