Tyshane Smith, the teenager charged in connection with a shooting inside the University Mall full of shoppers earlier this year, will have his criminal case resolved in adult court, a state judge has said.
One person was wounded.
Superior Court Judge A. Gregory Rainville noted during a recent adult court hearing that a judge in family court rejected a prosecutor’s request to have Smith considered a juvenile for the shooting case. It turns out area police linked Smith during 2020 to about 20 incidents, including seven burglary/robbery cases where he was either a suspect or arrested, according to newly released court records.
Smith, who turned 19 last month, has several listed addresses, including in Milton, Shelburne, Essex and Burlington. The new records link Smith to criminal charges for an armed burglary and aggravated assault in Winooski two months before the mall shooting in South Burlington. A Vermont judge also has rejected having those two Winooski cases heard in juvenile court, records show.
Smith denied the South Burlington shooting during a hearing April 2 and Judge Alison Arms ordered him jailed. She ruled the weight of the evidence was great and that he posed “a substantial threat” to the community. He remains at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield.
Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George had filed a motion seeking to have Smith adjudicated as a juvenile and have him face limited consequences in family court.
South Burlington Police Chief Shawn Burke was among the people unhappy with the request by George in her role as chief prosecutor in Chittenden County. Speaking only about the South Burlington shooting, Burke said the case was unsuitable for family court due to the “complete indifference to the public” that Smith had shown during the shooting.
The family court apparently agreed and kicked the case back to adult court.
Authorities have said the mall shooting may have been sparked by a gang-related confrontation. Smith fired at least five shots, three of them at the intended target before he fled with a group of eight people, South Burlington Police said.
Smith left behind the 9-mm firearm believed used in the shooting as he and his associates fled the Dorset Street mall, which was busy with shoppers and diners, police said.
George and defense lawyer Kathy Strahm told Rainville during a recent court hearing that they are still waiting for a report from Victoria Marini, a Shelburne psychologist, before entering negotiations on the South Burlington and Winooski cases.
Records show that Smith pleaded not guilty on Jan. 5 to assault and robbery with a dangerous weapon in Winooski for a Dec. 5 incident. He also denied a related second felony charge of burglary into an occupied dwelling on Malletts Bay Avenue with a deadly weapon. He pointed a gun at a man while trying to steal his wallet during the break-in, Winooski Police said in court papers.
He was released on conditions, but failed to appear for his scheduled arraignment the morning of Jan. 5 and an arrest warrant was issued. He appeared in court later that afternoon and the warrant was nixed. It was less than a month later that Smith opened fire in the mall on Feb. 1 and later fled Vermont, South Burlington Police said. After a nationwide search, Smith was caught near Miami with the help of U.S. Marshals Service on Feb. 25.
Smith, who gave a false name to police, also was arrested on a charge of felony possession of cocaine, but that Florida charge was dropped so he could be returned to Vermont to face the felony shooting charge, officials said.
On the same day George’s office asked the judge to send the shooting case to juvenile court, Deputy State’s Attorney Zachary J. Chen in a written motion requested Smith be held without bail as a danger to the community.
Judge Arms noted that not only did Smith fire three shots at Gabriel Williams, 18, but he continued to fire more shots as he ran through the crowded mall.
At least one innocent bystander, Alexander Stokes, 18, was wounded.
South Burlington Police Det. Tanner Palermo said in a court affidavit that witnesses reported Smith had robbed Williams’ girlfriend and robbed a CBD store operated by the Williams family as well.
Vermont’s new youthful offender statute, which went into effect last year, was approved by the Legislature with little notice. Transferring the adult case to family court would allow the shooting to be removed from Smith’s criminal record when he turned 22, officials said. Some legislators did not want young criminals to be strapped for life for their crimes.