A Delaware State Police trooper was fatally shot outside of a Wawa convenience store near Bear on Wednesday in an apparent ambush attack, police say.
The fallen trooper has been identified as Corporal Stephen J. Ballard, 32, an 8-year veteran of the state police.
One suspect was taken into custody at the scene, police said. Another shooter fled from the scene and is believed to be barricaded inside a home in Middletown, Delaware, state police said in a press release.
“The subject continues to remain barricaded inside the residence and is armed with an unknown type firearm,” police said. Officers at the scene are trying to negotiate with the gunman to persuade him to surrender peacefully, police said.
Bear and Middletown are located near Newark, Delaware. The shooting happened about 12:10 p.m. outside the Wawa convenience store at 1605 Pulaski Highway.
The suspects have not yet been identified. The standoff remained ongoing at 10 p.m.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Witnesses Say the Gunman Shot the Trooper Multiple Times, Including After He Fell to the Ground
A witness told The News Journal he was at a red light near the convenience store when the shooting occurred. Clarence Travers told the newspaper he heard gunfire and saw a police officer in a blue uniform fall to the ground.
Travers told The News Journal he then saw a man get out of his vehicle, walk around the car and shoot the officer on the ground multiple times, before running away.
Another witness told the newspaper the trooper’s SUV was parked “catty-corner to another vehicle, as if he quickly stopped and approached it.”
State Police Colonel Nathaniel McQueen Jr. said the trooper, Corporal Stephen Ballard, saw a suspicious vehicle outside the Wawa, withe two suspects inside.
McQueen said the trooper “made contact with the occupants and shortly thereafter, a struggle ensued. It was at this time that one of the two suspects exited the vehicle and proceeded to fire several rounds, striking the trooper.”
One suspect was taken into custody by responding troopers “without incident,” McQueen said. The second suspect fled on foot, he said.
2. Bystanders Started CPR on Corporal Ballard After the Shooting & He Was Rushed to a Local Hospital
The state trooper, Corporal Stephen Ballard, was rushed to Christiana Hospital, The News Journal reports.
Colonel Nathaniel McQueen Jr., the State Police superintendent, told reporters at a 5 p.m. press conference that the trooper, later identified as Ballard, had died.
“It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we announce the death of a Delaware state trooper,” McQueen said. He did not identify the trooper, pending notification of next of kin.
A witness said people started CPR on the trooper before emergency responders arrived. Monica Moore told The News Journal she heard the gunshots and then saw the trooper on the ground face down. She said bystanders quickly rushed to begin CPR.
“I saw him and just wanted to help,” Moore said.
3. The Gunman Fired Shots at Officers After Barricading Himself Inside a Home, Police Say
The gunman barricaded himself inside a home in the Brick Mill Farm Development in Middletown, according to a Delaware State Police press release. The development is located in the 500 block of St. Michaels Drive.
“This investigation is related to the incident in which a trooper was shot outside a Newark area convenience store. A male suspect has refused orders to surrender and continues to fire rounds at police officers,” state police said. “No further details are available at this time and updates regarding this incident will be sent hourly or until the situation is resolved.”
A heavy police presence was seen in the area, and residents were warned to stay inside.
“Multiple Special Operations Response Teams and Conflict Management Teams from allied police agencies are attempt to make contact with the male subject and are continuing to attempt to persuade him to surrender,” state police said.
Police used an explosive device, but did not enter the home, according to a press release:
At 8:22 p.m., the Explosives Ordinance Disposal Unit (EOD) utilized an explosive breeching charge on the front door. At this time, no entry has been made into the residence. Multiple Special Operations Response Teams and Conflict Management Teams from allied police agencies are attempting to make contact with the male subject and are continuing to attempt to persuade him to surrender.
4. Schools Near the Neighborhood Where the Man Is Barricaded Have Been Put on Lockdown
All schools in the Appoquinimink School District in Middletown, Delaware, were placed on lockdown as a precuation, the school district said on Facebook:
Schools, Offices on lockdown – We have been notified by police that an armed individual is in the vicinity. The police have set up a perimeter. As a precaution, ALL area schools have gone on lockdown. Brick Mill Elementary buses that were returning from a field trip have temporarily been diverted to the Marion E. Proffitt Training Center. Parents, the police have indicated that you are to refrain from going to our schools. You will not be allowed to enter the area. As soon as an “all clear” has been received, we will be notifying you. STUDENTS WILL NOT BE DISMISSED FROM SCHOOL UNTIL WE HAVE AN ALL-CLEAR FROM POLICE. That means dismissal will be delayed. Again, the safety of students, staff and schools is our #1 priority. We will notify you as soon as we receive the “all clear.
The lockdown was later lifted:
LOCKDOWN LIFTED! The police have given us the “green light” to lift the lockdown at schools. Secondary schools will be dismissing first. Then buses will return for their elementary runs. Since we are running late, we need to ask for your patience. We estimate a 30-45 minute delay in the drop-off times for our elementary students. If your student is a car rider, then you can report to school at the normal time. Walkers will be leaving at their normal time. Thank you again for all your support this afternoon!
5. Streets Have Been Closed & Residents Are Being Told to Stay Away From the Neighborhood Where the Gunman Was Located
Several streets in the neighborhood where the gunman is believed to be barricaded have been closed, Delaware State Police said in a press release.
“Brick Mill Road is currently closed between Marl Pit Road and Middletown Odessa Road (SR299). Commuters are advised to seek alternate routes of travel,” police said.
Police said, “Residents in the area are advised to stay inside their homes and lock their doors until notified otherwise.”