BURLINGTON, Vt. — A Burlington man who has made possible threats toward the distribution process for COVID-19 vaccinations in Vermont was jailed by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on Monday, court records show.
Aaron Loucks, 27, formerly of Charlotte, was held at the Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans, records show. He is expected to appear in U.S. District Court in Burlington today for an initial hearing on a charge of possessing a firearm while also being involved in using drugs.
The ATF said one source advised Loucks is under the belief the government and the “deep state” are after him, and Loucks made mention that he believes the COVID-19 screening precautions are part of a government conspiracy to gain control over the population.
ATF Special Agent Eric Brimo said witnesses are concerned Loucks had deteriorating mental status, was involved in violent incidents, and had been obtaining firearms. Some sources of information for the Howard Center indicated Loucks can be violent particularly when using controlled substances, Brimo said.
Court records from Dec. 15 indicated Loucks had used LSD in the past two weeks, the ATF said.
The ATF said the arrest came after working with Burlington, South Burlington and Shelburne Police, along with conversations with members of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Vermont Intelligence Center, and the U.S. Marshals Service, which is the federal agency responsible for security of vaccine distribution efforts.
Brimo said he went to Burlington Police on Dec. 30 to review ammunition, body armor, a helmet, and several notes, which listed concerning messages regarding the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“These items had been in the possession of Aaron Loucks and were given to BPD by a source familiar with Loucks out of concerns for public safety. BPD advised the notes suggested a threat against vaccine distribution efforts and requested assistance reviewing them,” Brimo wrote in a court affidavit.
Brimo said he obtained six photographs of the notes, which appeared to show a message directed at COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts.
One noted, “There is now the threat that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of censorship and concealment.”
Another note listed tactics and strategies, and others list hospital locations, pharmacies, prisons, long-term care, primary care, EMTs, nurses, doctors, colleges, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont, court records show.
One note noted “Vaccine Deceivers:” with “Pfizer/Moderna,” “US Postal Service” and “Police Force” listed below.
Another note mentions the Vermont National Guard sites, including South Burlington, Rutland, Waterbury, St. Albans and Burke, records show. It also mentions two chain pharmacies in Vermont.
Brimo wrote in court records that in checking with nearby police he found a couple of interactions in 2020, including:
— On Jan. 6, South Burlington Police conducted a traffic stop of Loucks after he was observed by an officer lighting a marijuana-smoking device, commonly referred to as a “bong,” while operating a vehicle.
— On Dec. 10, Burlington Police responded to the area of Church and Bank streets for multiple 911 calls regarding an individual breaking windows at a downtown business with a hammer. Officers obtained surveillance footage and determined Loucks had smashed the windows. Loucks was charged with simple assault, felony unlawful mischief — hate motivated and aggravated disorderly conduct, the ATF said.
— On Dec. 14, Burlington Police received information from a source familiar with Loucks who was concerned for public safety that the suspect has struggled with psychological and drug addiction issues since high school. Police learned Loucks had recently purchased two firearms and he reportedly stated to others that he would use them to defend himself if anyone “comes for him.”
The source informed Burlington Police that Loucks indicated he was willing to shoot police officers, the records show.
— On Dec. 15, Burlington Police was contacted again by a source familiar with Loucks concerned for public safety because of the defendant’s declining mental health status. Loucks had reportedly purchased a handgun “to protect himself and his family.”
The source advised Loucks is under the belief that the government and the “deep state” are after him and he made mention that he believes the COVID-19 screening precautions are a part of the government conspiracy to gain control over the population.
— On Dec. 16, Chittenden County law enforcement agencies responded to a residence in Shelburne after a Warrant for Emergency Examination was filed for Loucks. Law enforcement had received information that Loucks was reportedly en route to the source of the information’s residence and might be armed.
Shelburne Police sent an urgent request for available area police. Officers identified Loucks as the only occupant in the vehicle when he pulled up at the residence. He admitted he had a firearm, and police later found a Taurus 9-mm semi-automatic pistol inside the car after he stepped out of it.
The firearm was unloaded in a box, but there were two loaded magazines.
An additional firearm, a Colt M4 Carbine, 5.56 caliber AR-style rifle also was later turned into Shelburne Police by a family member of Loucks’ out of concern for him possessing it after the Dec. 16 incident.
Brimo said he went to the Powderhorn Outdoor Sports in Williston and confirmed Loucks purchased the Colt Model M4 Carbine, 5.56 caliber AR-style rifle on Nov. 30, along with ammunition and several firearm accessories. There were no records located for the Taurus semi-automatic pistol.
A trace showed the Taurus semi-automatic pistol was purchased by Loucks from M&R Guns & Ammo in Highgate on Dec. 13, three days before it was recovered by Shelburne Police, the ATF said.