BRANDON — A local man, already arraigned for alleged hate crimes and federal charges of illegally possessing guns, was charged again Monday after police said he had made violent threats against neighbors in July.
Eric A. Grenier, 39, of Brandon, pleaded not guilty Monday in Rutland criminal court to three misdemeanor charges of criminal threatening.
Grenier, who is already being held because of the federal charges, was ordered not to have guns or other deadly weapons and not to have contact with the people who accused him of making threats.
In an affidavit filed in the case, Chief Christopher Brickell, of the Brandon Police Department, said he met with a resident, Michael Shank, on July 9.
Shank brought national attention to his issues with Grenier after writing an opinion piece, published by USA Today and other media outlets in August, saying he was moving. It ran under the headline, “White extremism is winning in my Vermont town. I’m selling my animal sanctuary and moving.”
The sub-headline said, “The assault-weaponed bullies are winning on my road, and I refuse to weaponize myself to fight back. My town is unsafe if you’re non-white or unarmed.”
Brickell said Shank told him that he has had concerns about Grenier for some time and told him about his plans to sell his animal sanctuary and move. He told Brickell he had tried to draw attention to the use of guns by neighbors but found that other Brandon residents disagreed with him. He said he believed Grenier’s use of guns was a way of “intimidating” him.
“Based upon prior complaints by Shank to police and engagement police have had with Grenier, this would be a very realistic assumption,” Brickell wrote in the affidavit.
Shank told Brickell that he believed Grenier, whose property abuts Shank’s, was firing shots from an assault rifle on July 1 and setting off explosives and firing guns on July 3. He said he hadn’t called police because he was trying to de-escalate tensions with Grenier.
On July 4, the situation got “significantly worse,” Shank told Brickell, which led to him calling police. He said around 10 p.m., he heard a loud sound he believed was gunfire or an explosion. When he went outside to see what had happened, Shank heard what he believed was Grenier saying, “I see you, you cop-calling (expletive.)”
Shank said Grenier later said things like, “Go ahead, Mike, come on over,” “I’m coming for you, mother (expletive,)” and “Dead as (expletive,) swear to God.”
Police responded but did not speak with Eric Grenier. Brickell said officers spoke to his wife, Bobbie-Sue Grenier, to make sure all in the Grenier house were safe before leaving. One Vermont State Police trooper said as he was in the area, he could hear someone yelling, “Come and get it, boys.”
A second affidavit, written by Officer Michael VonSchleusingen, of the Brandon Police Department, describes a second alleged threat made to neighbors. Around 8:40 p.m. July 23, VonSchleusingen spoke to a woman who said Grenier had threatened her, her husband, her brother and a second woman.
The woman’s brother said Grenier’s stepdaughter had driven in front of his home and revved her engine “to cause annoyance.” The brother said he decided to take his dirt bike to Grenier’s home and rev the engine in retaliation.
However, he said when he got there, Grenier had a gun in his hand, so he left. He said he heard gunshots but couldn’t be sure if Grenier had fired the gun at him.
The woman’s husband, her brother and the second woman said Grenier went to their home and threatened them, saying he would “take them.” The second woman showed VonSchleusingen a video she made of the incident.
“I observed E. Grenier standing shirtless in the middle of the roadway, yelling at (the two men and the woman.) Throughout the encounter, E. Grenier taunted (the two men) to engage in a physical fight with him. At one point, E. Grenier yelled, ‘I’ll (expletive) the both of you up right now’ and would call the two men ‘a bunch of (expletive)’ throughout the encounter,” VonSchleusingen wrote.
One of the men said Grenier called them “(racial expletive) lovers” and threatened to “snipe them out.”
VonSchleusingen wrote in his affidavit that “numerous home owners on High Pond Road in Brandon have come forward to the Brandon Police Department to verbalize their fear of E. Grenier.”
The woman who called police provided a written statement in which she called Grenier a “ticking time bomb.”
“It is not fair for my family to be living in fear and be missing out on things because we fear what (Grenier) might do next,” she wrote.
In Rutland County court, he has three pending cases beside the one for which he was arraigned on Monday.
Grenier was arraigned in April 2020 on a felony count of attempted burglary and a felony count of unlawful mischief resulting in damage of more than $1,000; in March on a misdemeanor charge of leaving the scene of a crash; and in July, he was arraigned on a misdemeanor charge of simple assault.
The latter charge contained language that would make it a hate crime, alleging the Grenier’s “conduct was maliciously motivated by the victim’s actual or perceived race, color or ancestry.”
Grenier has pleaded not guilty in all the cases as well as the federal charges which allege that he possessed guns despite prior felony convictions which make it illegal for him to own guns.
Each of the counts with which Grenier was charged on Monday are punishable by up to a year in prison.