ABOVE PHOTO: Cpl. Stephen J. Ballard (Photo: CBS News)
By Randall Chase
MIDDLETOWN, Del. — A man suspected of fatally shooting a Delaware state trooper has been shot and killed by officers after an overnight standoff, state police said Thursday.
The man, who has not been identified, walked out of the home where he had been holed up since the fatal shooting of the trooper a day earlier, “engaged officers” and was shot by law enforcement and died at the scene, police said in a statement. Police planned a news conference Thursday afternoon to release more details.
The man had been barricaded inside the home since Wednesday afternoon, not long after Cpl. Stephen J. Ballard, 32, was shot several times after he approached a vehicle in the parking lot of a Wawa convenience store near Bear.
State police superintendent Col. Nathaniel McQueen said the vehicle had two suspicious people inside. One man got out of the car and shot Ballard several times before running away, McQueen said Wednesday. The other man was arrested at the scene.
“This is a sad day for our state and for the Delaware State Police family,” McQueen said as Gov. John Carney stood at his side.
Police tracked the suspected gunman to his home in a subdivision of two-story houses near Middletown, about 15 miles (25 kilometers) south of where Ballard was shot. The gunman, alone in the house, refused to leave and fired several shots at officers surrounding the home, state police spokesman Master Cpl. Gary Fournier said. No other officers were injured.
“There have been multiple gunshots that have come from the house at police officers,” Fournier said.
Hostage negotiators were on the scene and established contact with the man in an effort to get him to surrender peacefully, Fournier said. But there was no quick resolution as the standoff stretched into the evening.
Shortly after 8 p.m., police used an explosive device to blow the door of the house off its hinges, but officers did not immediately enter the home, Fournier said.
Officers came under fire again Thursday morning and authorities used explosives to blow off windows, but did not immediately enter the home, police said.
A local fire company opened its space to temporarily house evacuated residents while police continued to negotiate with the suspect.
Sarah Adkins, 18, who lives with her parents on the same street where the suspect was barricaded, said that shortly after arriving home early Thursday afternoon, she started hearing sporadic gunfire that lasted for about an hour and resumed at other intervals.
Adkins said the man believed to be the suspect went to school with her brothers, and has always seemed friendly, smiling and waving at her when she last saw him a couple of weeks ago.
Police used a robo-calling system to tell residents in the areas to stay inside and lock their doors.
Ballard had been on the force for more than eight years, according to state police spokesman Sgt. Richard Bratz.
“My heart is with the officer’s family and the officers who have served beside him,” Carney said in a statement.