Man With Knife Broke Into Home of State Labor Chief, Later Killed Himself | Crime | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Man With Knife Broke Into Home of State Labor Chief, Later Killed Himself


Published July 28, 2022 at 6:38 p.m.

  • Courtesy Northfield Police Facebook page
  • A police vehicle
A man accused of breaking into Vermont Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington's home on Tuesday night and threatening his family has since died in an apparent suicide.

Police said David Young, 32, forced his way into the Northfield residence and "attempted to attack a family with a knife," according to a press release by the Northfield Police Department. An unspecified "homeowner" subdued Young without injury until officers arrived and arrested him a few minutes later. Harrington's family was not injured.

Young was cited for aggravated assault and burglary, then released on conditions, Northfield Police Chief John Helfant said, after a state judge in Washington County denied a request to set pre-arraignment bail.

Young was found dead the following morning, the victim of an apparent suicide.

The Vermont Daily Chronicle first reported the news.

The man had been staying at a residence attached to the duplex where Harrington lives, police said. A statement on Thursday by the commissioner indicated that the two knew each other for some time.

"The individual who showed up at our door Tuesday night was not the man we knew before that evening," Harrington said in the statement. "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."

Following the Tuesday night break-in, Northfield police consulted the Washington County state's attorney and sought to have Young detained on the criminal charges, Helfant said. Seven Days was not able to obtain court records related to the case on Thursday afternoon.

Helfant said once the judge instead ordered Young to be cited and released ahead of a Wednesday court appearance, an officer took him to Central Vermont Medical Center out of concern for the man's health.

The hospital held Young overnight, according to Helfant. An officer returned to the hospital Wednesday morning before 7 a.m. and spoke to Young about his charges. That officer was told the hospital would keep Young until he was screened by Washington County Mental Health Services, the chief said.

Less than four hours later, police responded to a report of Young lying dead on the floor of the Northfield duplex where he was staying.

Young's cause of death was not available Thursday afternoon.

State law limits when people experiencing mental health episodes can be hospitalized without their consent. Harrington, in his statement, sought to "emphasize the importance of readily available mental health services for those in need, especially our nation’s veterans."

The Northfield chief urged Vermont lawmakers to reconsider the state's laws around involuntary hospitalization.

"I understand the legislature's desire to ensure individual rights and freedoms, but I also understand that people in mental health crisis sometimes definitely need help in the short term," he said.

Young had no criminal history in Vermont or previous interactions with Northfield police, Helfant said.