Suspect barricaded in home after Delaware officer killed

Authorities investigate the scene of a shooting, Wednesday, April 26, 2017, in Bear, Del. Delaware State Police say a trooper has been taken to a hospital after being shot at the convenience store. The trooper, who was on duty at the time, was taken to Christiana Hospital. (Damian Giletto/The News Journal via AP)

MIDDLETOWN, Del. (AP) — A man suspected of shooting and killing a Delaware state trooper outside a convenience store remained barricaded early Thursday inside his house, where he fired shots at officers as they tried to negotiate a peaceful surrender, police said.

Cpl. Stephen J. Ballard, 32, was shot several times about 12:10 p.m. Wednesday 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 at a Wednesday afternoon news conference. 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.

Carney ordered both U.S. and state flags to be flown at half-staff in memory of Ballard, whose body was taken to the state medical examiner’s office for an autopsy.

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.

Around 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, several loud pops echoed through the neighborhood, as police repeatedly ordered the suspect to come out of the house with his hands up.

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.

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.

“It’s been scary,” said Adkins, who was told by police to go to her basement and stay there.

“Just me and my dog,” said Adkins, who spent the day talking on the phone with her friends and family.

“I’m doing OK. My mom is a nervous wreck,” said Adkins, whose parents, along with other residents, have been unable to return to their homes. A local fire company opened its facility to temporarily house evacuated residents while police continued to negotiate with the suspect.

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. The Appoquinimink School District went on lockdown, keeping all students and staff inside school buildings. They were later allowed to leave as police secured the area.

Police have identified the man, Fournier said, but have yet to release his name.

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.