Screener: Accused Shooter Was On Drugs, Suffering Mental Health Issues

Alfred Charest appears by video from jail in Orleans Superior Court on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021.

A Derby Line man accused of firing a barrage of gunshots from his second-floor apartment window on Monday was on drugs and suffering from mental health issues.

That’s according to mental health screener Tonya Davis who testified during the criminal arraignment of Alfred Charest, 38, in Orleans Superior Court on Tuesday.

“He has a disorganized thought process, impaired judgement, he can’t recall any of the events as they happened yesterday, and he is delusional,” said Davis. “He had some substances in his system yesterday…Methamphetamines.”

Charest has now been charged with felony first-degree attempted murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, attempted aggravated assault and two misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment.

He pleaded not guilty through his attorney Lydia Newcomb to all five charges and was ordered held without bail by Judge Lisa A. Warren pending an inpatient mental health evaluation.

“The court is convinced that Mr. Charest, at this point in time, based on the criminal allegations, should be held without bail,” said Judge Warren. “Mr. Charest is clearly suffering from something at this time, mentally.”

The hold without bail order will be suspended if Charest is transported for in-patient evaluation but he will be returned to the Department of Corrections and likely back into court once the evaluation is completed.

Vermont State Police say they responded at 9:46 a.m. on Monday to reports of shots being fired at 22 Caswell Avenue in Derby Line. Police evacuated the building while Charest was taken into custody outside the building by agents from the U.S. Border Patrol.

No injuries were reported from the gunshots but police did report finding a black .22 caliber handgun, spent .22 shell casings and a large number of bullet holes in Charest’s apartment. Police also found bullet holes in a neighboring apartment building located at 46 Caswell Avenue - which faces Charest’s residence.

“Several holes were observed in a window of Charest’s bedroom that faces the adjacent apartment building, 46 Caswell Avenue,” wrote VSP Sgt. Andrew Jensen in his report. “A large picture window in 46 Caswell was also observed to have several holes in it…”

A resident of 46 Caswell Avenue, Jacob Ducharme, 21, told police he was preparing food in his kitchen when he heard a “pop” and thought it was something in the microwave.

“He said he looked and then heard another popping noise which he could tell struck the house,” wrote Sgt. Jensen. “He walked into the living room and could see glass on the couch from the window. Ducharme then went outside to look at the window and heard someone in a second-story window, later identified as Charest, yell at him and say ‘Green light!’”

Ducharme told investigators he then asked Charest what that meant.

“He said Charest then replied saying ‘It’s time to pay,’” wrote Sgt. Jensen. “Ducharme advised he saw what appeared to be a black gun in Charest’s hands…Ducharme said he could hear more rounds being shot as he was running into his house.”

Police then searched Charest’s apartment at 22 Caswell Avenue.

“Confiscated in the search of Charest’s residence were a .22 caliber Kel—Tec semi-automatic handgun as well as a full box of .357 magnum ammunition, 9 empty 12 gauge shotgun shells, several spent .357 shell casings, two empty plastic rifle cases, and dozens of spent and un-spent .22 caliber ammunition,” wrote Sgt. Jensen. “Also documented inside Charest’s apartment were approximately one dozen bullet holes scattered through the floor and walls of his apartment. There were several holes in both the bedroom window screens that faced in the direction of 46 Caswell Avenue.”

Charest now faces a possible sentence of up to life in prison if convicted. He’s also wanted on a fugitive warrant issued in New Hampshire.

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