BURLINGTON, Vt. — Police say two Vermont men decided to settle a dispute about a woman by meeting to fight on a railroad bridge that crosses about 50 feet above a river. The confrontation, which occurred Sunday with witnesses gathered around, ended when one of the men fell to his death, reports CBS affiliate WCAX.
Police have charged Joshua Granger, 20, with murder in the blunt force trauma death of Jared Streeter, also 20.
Witnesses told police that Streeter appeared "groggy" after Granger punched him, causing Streeter to stumble and hit his head on a metal rail, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by the Burlington Free Press. When Streeter got back up, Granger allegedly punched him again, the witnesses said, causing Streeter to fall back and roll off the crossing, known as the Blue Bridge, the witnesses said.
The newspaper reports that Granger told investigators it was the hardest he had ever punched someone, according to the affidavit, which also quotes Granger saying he did not mean for Streeter to fall off the bridge and that he hoped the victim survived.
Granger initially left the scene, but turned himself in to police about 10 minutes later. He pleaded not guilty Monday to a charge of second-degree murder and was ordered held without bail. Granger faces a minimum of 20 years to life in prison if convicted.
Caleb Moore, who told WCAX he was a good friend of Streeter's, said the victim "was taken too soon in a way that nobody should go."
"He would give the shirt off his back to anyone, and even if it was his last five dollars and we were hungry, he would get something," Moore said.
At a press conference Monday, Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo decried the decision to fight on a bridge.
"It seems like both of them had their whole lives ahead of them. Like so many people they weren't perfectly straight arrows, but that's fine. I mean -- it's life," del Pozo said. "But there's no reason to solve your problem with a fight in such a dangerous location where the hazards are so clear."
WCAX reports that the Blue Bridge was also the site of a brutal 2011 murder. In that case Daniel Whalon stabbed and Ralph Bell, whom he had a romantic relationship with, in the neck and chest. Bell then fell from the bridge and died. Whalon was sentenced to 25 year to life in prison.