A Vermont Department for Children and Families worker was killed by a woman who was unhappy about recently losing custody of her child, according to news reports.
Police said Jody Herring used “fairly high-caliber hunting rifle” to fire two shots that killed DCF worker Lara Sobel as she left the agency’s office in Barre on Friday, according to the Burlington Free Press.
At a news conference Friday, Barre City Police Chief Tim Bombardier said Herring was tackled by witnesses moments after Sobel was “shot in close proximity” and restrained until police arrived.
“The connection that we’ve been able to find between the victim and shooter is the result of cases in family court involving DCF and Jodie Herring and some child custody and child welfare issues, the last one of these being July 10 of this year,” Bombardier said.
Authorities said Herring lost custody of her 9-year-old child, who remains in state custody, according to the Free Press.
She is scheduled to appear in court on Monday to face a first-degree murder charge.
Downtown business owners have already turned over surveillance video that shows Herring approaching the DCF building with a gun, according to CBS affiliate WCAX.
Authorities are trying to determine whether Herring and Sobel knew one another beyond their July 10 court date.
Sobel was a 14-year veteran of the agency and is survived by a husband and two daughters, according to the Free Press.
“We’re doing the best we can to support our staff,” DCF Commissioner Ken Schatz told reporters at Friday’s news conference.
“Any sort of death is a tragedy. In this situation, we lost one of our own,” he said.
Gov. Peter Shumlin intensified security for state workers in the wake of the shooting, which took place several hundred yards from the state courthouse that handled family court cases, according to the Free Press.
“Until we know more about this incident, DCF staff have been directed to only go out on emergency calls this weekend accompanied by law enforcement,” Shumlin said in a statement, noting that DCF employees confront “the most challenging family situations that one can imagine.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued a statement Saturday:
“Today is tragic day for Vermont. In the past 24 hours, a public servant was murdered and three other Vermonters were killed in circumstances that are not yet clear. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families and friends. As is always the case, I know Vermonters will rally together in the aftermath of this horrible tragedy because that is what we do in a crisis. I have contacted Gov. Shumlin and I am confident there will be a full investigation into what happened and why.”