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VT – SELF-PROTECTION – Militia training site terrifies neighbors in West Pawlet

In the remote hills of southwestern Vermont, a group of locals gathered last week to talk with a reporter about chilling experiences they’ve had with a nearby property owner. The property owner, Daniel Banyai, 47, and groups of men armed with large guns have had confrontational exchanges with local residents many times over the past four years. Sometimes, neighbors say, they have been followed or confronted by the armed men. On weekends, they hear rapid gunshots, and sometimes explosions — part of paramilitary training that takes place at two shooting ranges on the 31-acre property. Banyai runs Slate Ridge, a center for paramilitary training and “professional gunfighting,” which operates in a remote pocket of Rutland County. Located near Route 22, on Briar Hill Road, the center is a 50-minute drive from Rutland’s State Police barracks, the closest law enforcement other than the town’s two constables. The neighbors met with VTDigger near Briar Hill Road, which undulates beneath forests and through farm fields, lending a sense of isolation to the area. During the meeting, an unfamiliar truck sped into the backyard, several hundred yards from where the group had gathered. They didn’t recognize the vehicle, and their fear was palpable as the truck turned and peeled away. Some jumped to their feet, while others called out in alarm. “I have no idea who that is. Who the heck is that?” One resident pulled out a phone to record, and another ran after the vehicle as it left the property. They worried the driver could be Banyai, or one of the men acting under his direction. In the past two weeks, men from Slate Ridge have surrounded individual neighbors in attempts to intimidate them. Banyai also threatened to kill bow hunters who had been near his property.  [full article]

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