Police probe Manchester shooting - updated at 11:55 a.m.
Staff Report | December 31,2012
By Patrick McArdle
MANCHESTER - A local man who was shot on Sunday evening told police he was the victim of a drive-by shooting but police are still investigating the circumstances that resulted in the gunshot wound, according to Manchester Police Chief Michael Hall.
Hall said on Monday morning that he believed Donald Ely-Gardner, 27, of Manchester, was no longer in life-threatening danger because of the wound.
Ely-Gardner was taken to the Manchester Police Department by a friend at around 8:30 p.m. on Sunday. He appeared to have been shot in the chest.
Hall said the gunshot wound appeared to have been caused by a small-caliber handgun.
Around 9 a.m. Monday, Hall said that, after a preliminary investigation, police believe Ely-Gardner had been at home with a friend, William Nichols Jr., in Manchester on Sunday evening. Hall said Ely-Gardner told Nichols he was going out for cigarettes around 8:30 p.m.
A short time later, Ely-Gardner called Nichols to say he had been shot. He told his friend he was on Route 7A about 200 feet south of the new roundabout at the intersection of Routes 11/30 and 7A, Hall said.
Hall said Nichols told police he went to the scene, found Ely-Gardner in a parking lot and brought him to the Manchester Police Department which is farther north on Route 7A.
The Manchester Rescue Squad took Ely-Gardner to the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington. He was later taken by helicopter to the Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center where he had been listed in critical condition early this morning.
However, by 9 a.m., Hall said he believed Ely-Gardner was no longer considered to be in life-threatening danger.
The only information that police got from Ely-Gardner was that he had been shot by a passing driver.
“We’re still processing the crime scene up there and still gathering evidence at this point,” Hall said.
While police were doing their on-site investigation, Hall said they might face some challenges because a light snow was beginning to fall in Manchester on Monday morning.
Hall said police had no reason to believe there was an immediate danger to the public.
Ely-Gardner has a criminal history in the area.
He currently has seven felony charges pending for violation of an abuse prevention order. The charges were felonies based on Ely-Gardner’s previous convictions for violating abuse prevention orders in November 2004.
In that case, a woman reported to the Bennington Police Department on July 11 that Ely-Gardner had been sending her text messages in violation of a relief from abuse order issued in April. Sgt. David Dutcher said he had contacted the Manchester Police Department, because Ely-Gardner lives in Manchester, and asked that Ely-Gardner be cited and given new conditions of release which re-stated that he was not to have contact with the woman.
The woman called Dutcher later on July 11 to report that Ely-Gardner had sent her text messages within about 45 minutes of being released by the Manchester police.
Ely-Gardner also has a pending charge of driving under the influence of alcohol.
In March, 2010, he was convicted by a jury of domestic assault in Bennington criminal court.
Both Hall and Bennington County State’s Attorney Erica Marthage said they were not expecting to host a press conference on the incident on Monday.