Owner of Vermont firearms training center arrested following altercation, police say

The owner of a firearms training center in Vermont who was ordered arrested by a judge in December in a long-running legal battle with a town has been taken into custody after a struggle and now faces charges of resisting arrest and aggravated assault, authorities said.

Daniel Banyai is expected to be arraigned Thursday. His attorney did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Banyai was a passenger in a vehicle that a Pawlet town constable pulled over for speeding Wednesday, Vermont State Police said. Banyai got into a physical altercation with the constable, who then used pepper spray to be able to arrest him, according to police.

VERMONT FIREARMS TRAINING CENTER OWNER ARRESTED UNTIL PARTS OF HIS 30-ACRE FACILITY ARE DEMOLISHED

He was treated at a Rutland hospital for minor injuries, and the constable was evaluated by a rescue squad. Banyai is being held at a prison in Rutland for lack of $15,000 bail, pending arraignment, police said.

Daniel Banyai, the owner of Slate Ridge, speaks to supporters on April 17, 2021, in West Pawlet, Vermont. Banyai, the owner of a former firearms training center in Vermont, was arrested on Wednesday in Pawlet, Vermont, state police said. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring, File)

In December, a Vermont Environmental Court judge ruled that Banyai was in contempt of court for failing to completely remove all unpermitted structures on his property in a long-running legal battle with the town. It was the second time last year that a judge ordered him arrested.

The Rutland County Sheriff and Vermont State Police were ordered to report to the judge on their efforts to arrest him and said in court papers that they had visited the property multiple times and were told he had left the state.

VERMONT GUN RANGE OWNER ORDERED TO DISMANTLE ALL ILLEGAL STRUCTURES ON PROPERTY

The Pawlet property, known as Slate Ridge, included buildings and two firing ranges. After complaints from neighbors, the town attempted for several years to get Banyai to remove the structures. Three years ago, the Environmental Court ordered Banyai to end any firearms training at the center and remove unpermitted structures. His appeal to Vermont Supreme Court was rejected.

In February 2023, a judge issued a scathing order that Banyai was in contempt of court for deliberately flouting a series of court orders issued since the start of the case. At the time he faced jail and fines that could exceed $100,000 if he failed to comply by June 23.

In response to Slate Ridge, a bill was passed in the Legislature making it a crime to own or operate paramilitary training camps in the state. Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed it into law in May.

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