Delaware state trooper dies after Wawa shooting; suspect barricaded

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Thursday, April 27, 2017
Delaware State Police Cpl. Stephen J. Ballard

BEAR, Delaware -- Delaware State Police released the identity of a trooper who was shot and killed at a Wawa convenience store in Bear.

He has been identified as Cpl. Stephen J. Ballard.

Ballard, 32, was an 8.5-year veteran of the Delaware State Police and was assigned to patrol at Troop 2, Glasgow.

Meanwhile, the suspected shooter has barricaded himself inside his home in Middletown.

Video from the Action Cam at the scene in Bear, Del.

The barricade situation is happening at a home on the 500 block of St. Michaels Drive in the Brick Mill Farms Development.

Police say the male suspect is refusing orders to surrender and has fired shots at officers.

It is believed that he is inside the home by himself. Hostage negotiators were trying to establish contact with the man.

Delaware State Police say at 8:22 p.m., the Explosives Ordinance Disposal Unit utilized an explosive breaching charge on the front door, however, they have not entered the home, as of yet.

The suspect's name has not been released.

A heavy police presence could be seen from the Action Cam and Chopper 6.

Video: Chopper 6 over search for suspect in Middletown, Del.

Residents in the area have been evacuated. No injuries have been reported.

The trooper was shot around 12 p.m. Wednesday at the Wawa store on Pulaski Highway (Route 40) near Salem Church Road.

Officials say the trooper spotted a suspicious vehicle occupied by two suspects in the Wawa parking lot.

The trooper made contact, officials say, and then there was a struggle.

That's when one of the two suspects got out of the vehicle and fired several rounds, striking the trooper.

Kevin Lerner says he saw the shooting. He works at the barber shop next to Wawa.

"When he pushed the officer he got a little room to run. So he pushed him and ran, and when he ran he ran for like seven or eight feet. And then he turned around and started shooting," said Lerner. "Just instantly started shooting."

Video: Del. state police news conference on trooper's death

Responding troopers arrived at the scene and took one of the suspects into custody without incident.

The other suspect fled on foot prior to their arrival.

The trooper was rushed to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

"This is a sad day for our state and our Delaware State Police family. We ask that you keep the trooper's family, and the Delaware State Police family, in your thoughts and prayers," said Delaware State Police Superintendent Nathaniel McQueen.

A caravan of law enforcement vehicles accompanied the slain officer's body to the state Division of Forensic Services for an autopsy, and observers placed their hands over their hearts as it passed by.

VIDEO: Police escort for fallen Del. trooper

Delaware Gov. John Carney is offering his condolences to the relatives and colleagues of a slain state trooper.

The governor issued a statement after the trooper's death was announced at a hospital in Wilmington. He says his "heart is with the officer's family and the officers who have served beside him."

Carney says "officers go to work every day knowing they put their lives on the line to protect ours." He says Delawareans are "incredibly indebted to their bravery and service."

Wawa officials released a statement Wednesday night saying, "We are deeply saddened by the tragic situation that occurred in the parking lot of our Bear, Delaware store today. Our hearts are broken and our thoughts and prayers are with the officer's family and the entire Delaware State Police community during this difficult time."

The statement notes that the store will remain closed until Saturday "Out of respect to the officer, our associates and all those affected."

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