For many who frequent the Brattleboro Food Co-op, getting wine advice from Richard Gagnon was a pleasing ritual. His knowledge was encyclopedic, and after years as the wine manager, he was a fixture in the homey downtown store.
The co-op, reopened two days after the shooting and has returned, more or less, to its usual pace.
But Mr. Gagnon’s tenure ended abruptly one morning last month when, according to the police, he walked into the office of Michael Martin, his boss, and fatally shot him in the head. Mr. Gagnon, 59, was charged with first-degree murder and is being held without bail.
That this murder would happen in Brattleboro, a magnet for artists, hippies and healers in the southeast corner of Vermont, was unusual enough. But murder in the co-op, an organic grocery store that is owned by its members and committed to democratic principles, was beyond reckoning.
“It’s not Walgreens or Price Chopper or Hannaford’s,” said Kelly Salasin, a member from neighboring Marlboro. “It is something that belongs to us, and there’s a sense of responsibility. It’s as if a murder happened in your own family.”