Hartford man held without bail following weekend standoff and shelter-in-place advisory

John Beane, of Hartford, Vt., wearing what a court officer referred to as a

John Beane, of Hartford, Vt., wearing what a court officer referred to as a "suicide smock," listens during his arraignment in Windsor County Superior Court on Tuesday, May 28, 2024 in White River Junction, Vt. Beane was taken into custody on Saturday, following a standoff with police the day before. Tommi Mandell, a defense attorney who represented Beane on Tuesday, stands in the foreground. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Jennifer Hauck

Lee Works, of Hartford, Vt., sits in the sun with his dog Joey on Tuesday, May 28, 2024. Works said he and Joey were walking toward one of the units at Stony Creek Condominiums on Friday when police ordered him to turn around because of a standoff with a resident at the complex. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Lee Works, of Hartford, Vt., sits in the sun with his dog Joey on Tuesday, May 28, 2024. Works said he and Joey were walking toward one of the units at Stony Creek Condominiums on Friday when police ordered him to turn around because of a standoff with a resident at the complex. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Jennifer Hauck

By JOHN LIPPMAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 05-28-2024 9:46 AM

Modified: 05-28-2024 7:57 PM


HARTFORD — A Hartford man will be held without bail after police sealed off and issued a shelter-in-place advisory at a residential complex when the man allegedly threatened to shoot officers and burn down his condo building during a domestic incident on Friday.

John Beane, 66, was denied bail at his arraignment Tuesday in Windsor County Superior Court on felony and misdemeanor assault charges after police said he attacked members of his family at their residence in the Stony Creek condominium complex off Hartford Avenue.

In denying bail, Vermont Superior Court Judge Lisa Warren concluded that "based on the totality of circumstances," Beane presented "a substantial physical risk" to both family members and the public.

Beane, who was arrested and charged on Saturday and detained at Southern State Correctional Facility over the holiday weekend, through an attorney who was standing in until his application for a court-appointed attorney would be filed, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Beane physically assaulted a 66-year-old female relative when she informed him of information that “agitated him,” according to a police probable cause affidavit. He then lacerated the hand of a 91-year-old female relative who came to the first member’s defense with a “wooden dowel,” according to the affidavit.

When Hartford police responded at the scene to investigate a complaint called in by another family member, Beane threatened to shoot the police and set his residence on fire. At one point he told the family member that “the only way he would come out is in a body bag,” the affidavit said.

The dire warnings led Hartford police to secure a perimeter around the residential complex during the six-hour standoff and forbid residents from entering or leaving, forcing some of them to wait it out and park their vehicles in the shoulder along Route 5.

Hartford police dispatched two negotiators to the scene who made phone contact with Beane, Patrol Commander Connie Kelley told the Valley News on Tuesday.

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The negotiators spent several hours on the phone with Beane and “were able to establish a pretty decent rapport” with him, Kelley said, and assessed that, despite the threats, the public was not in danger.

“The subject made it clear to them that he was not going to come out until Tuesday and they made a plan with him to check in every day, asked him if he needed anything and our negotiator felt they could believe what (Beane) was saying,” Kelley said.

But police were back at the condo complex on Saturday afternoon after a relative alerted them that Beane was “semi-conscious” and “possibly in comatose in an attempt to commit suicide” and in need of medical help, according to the police affidavit.

When they got to Beane’s condo they found he had barricaded himself inside his bedroom, which required “forced entry” in order for an EMS crew to “stabilize” his blood sugar level. Beane’s attorney said during his client’s arraignment that Beane has diabetes.

During his arraignment held via video conference from Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield, Vt., Beane appeared without a shirt and only partially clad because, a prison staff member explained, he was being held on suicide watch. 

The judge ordered jail staff to find a shirt for Beane before she would proceed with his hearing.

Beane’s neighbors at Stony Creek told the Valley News on Tuesday that they had little information about what had occurred at their residential complex on Friday evening other than the place was swarming with police — some staked out under the trees between the buildings for most of the night — and that officers politely but firmly requested they stay indoors.

On Tuesday morning outside Beane's end unit condo at the foot of the front steps was a red planter with plastic flowers and a small American flag. 

Residents of Stony Creek said they kept checking the complex’s private Facebook page for news updates and information but to little avail.

Retiree Lee Works, who has lived for eight years in the apartment building opposite Beane’s condo, said the first he learned about the police operation outside his door was when a friend called him early Friday evening “and asked me what’s going on there.”

Works said he took his dog, Joey, outside for a break and walked the usual route to the front of his apartment building when a female police officer advised him with a “loud request” to return to his apartment. 

“Half the building was in the garage looking out,” Works said.

Chance Lindsley, an educator who lives in a corner condo unit across from Beane, said that he occasionally would see Beane outside kicking a soccer ball and described his neighbors as “very nice.”

“I know he was in a lot of back pain,” Lindsley said on Tuesday of Beane.

Jessica, who declined to give her last name, was visiting her mother and sister who live in the apartment building across from Beane’s condo. She had managed to pull in just before police blocked off the entrance to Stony Creek by parking an SUV cruiser sideways across the entry.

Given the heavy police response and the shelter-in-place order, Jessica said she thought it “a little weird” that around midnight police determined it was safe enough to withdraw from the scene without explanation.

“Even if someone threatens to be armed, you shouldn’t just leave. You should have at least one person here,” Jessica said on Tuesday as she was outside the apartment taking the family’s 4-month old Shih Tzu/Bichon Frise mix named Zeus out for a walk.

But Kelley, the Hartford police commander, said that Beane’s threats of violence had been directed only at police and the priority of negotiations was not to escalate the situation any further.

“We didn’t want to make the situation worse than it needed to be and once our negotiator was confident that (Beane) was going to follow through on our plan, we left the scene,” Kelley said.

When police and EMS crews responded to Beane’s medical emergency on Saturday, Kelley said police did not have an affidavit to search Beane’s residence to establish if he ever in fact possessed a firearm.

“If there was something in plain view it would have been listed in the affidavit,” she said. 

Contact John Lippma n  at jlippman@vnews.com.